My saga goes ever onward to catch up on Batman starting from Year One. The Man Who Laughs is a one-shit that’s a direct sequel to Year One which shows us Batman’s first run-in with The Joker. Not just Batman but Gotham and Gordan as a whole as well. We also get mentions of Red Hood again. Batman is a little bit more skilled in this comic and doesn’t get hurt quite as often. The introduction to The Joker is perfect. It shows how much he just loves chaos and no one understands his motive.
The art direction in this one is fantastic. With every shot of Joker looking perfectly twisted and insane. Joker’s goal is to poison all of Gotham and turn them into Joker’s and create an army. Batman’s trying to work with Gordon to figure out what Joker’s goal is. He originally just threatens Bruce Wayne and another rich guy, but it’s all distractions of course and he never keeps his word. The comic is ultimate chaos. It really just shows us that Batman will have his hands full with this one and is the first real threat to him and Gotham on a large scale. Joker murders without remorse and so do his goons.
There aren’t any direct references to Year One outside of continuity with the introduction to the first major villain for Batman. We do get a surprise at the end that shows us the first time something very iconic was introduced to the storyline. I don’t want to spoil what it is. The pace of the comic itself is great with storytelling being told during action or event sequences. Batman’s inner dialog, and Gordon’s, explain a lot while things are happening which keeps things going. There aren’t any strange plot twists with this being a one-shot, but it’s done very well and it’s a great part of Joker’s comic timeline that’s a must-read.
Overall, The Man Who Laughs is iconic and is a must-read for any Batman fan. Even if you are a fan of just the movies and want to learn about how Batman first came across The Joker then this is it. Now, don’t go into this expecting Joker’s origin story. That’s not what this is at all. This is just the moment when the two meet for the first time and how that all goes down.