This one-shot comes in the middle of The Batman Who Laughs mini-series. It details the origin of the efficient and deadly Grim Knight. This new Dark Knight is similar to our Batman in that there are no supernatural powers or amalgamations with the Justice League. He’s just ruthless, uses guns, and oh yeah, he kills. He kills a lot.
The cover of this issue is very dark in colour. It features the Grim Knight standing with the night sky behind him. Guns are drawn and the moon is low in the sky. A smattering of bats fly through the night sky. This Dark Knight almost feels more dangerous to the others as he has more of a human evil quality to him. Jock’s cover is excellent!
Eduardo Risso and Dave Stewart handle the art and colours respectively. They are some neat contrasts. The scenes from The Grim Knight’s origin almost look like water-colour portraits, whereas the remainder of the book is in a more conventional style. I like the conscious choice to use different styles to differentiate between flashback and present, as it gives his past a sort of nostalgic feel.
Acting as a sort of pause in The Batman Who Laughs mini-series, this issue gives an idea as to why Gordon was kidnapped, and toys with the idea that maybe The Batman Who Laughs isn’t the one in charge.
While it begins with the Grim Knight moving Gordon along through underground passageways, where this issue is at its best is when it delves into his history. This is a Bruce Wayne that picked up Joe Chill’s gun and shot him in cold blood immediately after his parents were killed, and then set up a big brother sort of system to control every aspect of Gotham. The city itself became his weapon to use against criminals.
Gordon comes into this as the Grim Knight’s Jim Gordon was the one to finally stop him. Pulling this worlds commissioner into this perhaps gives him a chance to satisfy his desire for revenge. The only future teaser given is when The Batman Who Laughs hints that his own plans are for something far worse.
This is a well written book, and while it doesn’t move the main series plot forward much, it acts as a solid companion piece.