Take a little bit of Batman, a little bit of Joker, and a whole lot of Dark Multiverse, and you get the 2017 introduction of DC Comics’ The Batman Who Laughs. The name is a play on “The Man Who Laughs,” itself a well beloved retelling of the Joker’s early days by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Doug Mahnke (and of course their comics work is named for a silent film that is often attributed to inspiration for the Joker’s creation!).
As a combo platter of a true Batman warped by the poison of a Joker toxin, The Batman Who Laughs has quickly become one of the deadliest and most twisted enemies in Earth-0 Bruce Wayne’s rogue’s gallery.
Below you’ll find a complete reading order for comics featuring The Batman who Laughs, as the character continues to play more of a major role throughout the DC Universe.
Related Reading Orders:
The Batman Who Laughs Comic Book History
An absolute blast, one of my favorite comic book events all time, and the debut of The Batman Who Laughs. I’d recommend reading the entire event, but if you’re in a crunch, then the Batman Who Laughs sequence should flow as the first three main event issues of Metal, The Batman Who Laughs one-shot, and then the remainder of Metal. But seriously, you’ll be missing out on both a great event, and lots of Batman Who Laughs if you take this approach!
For the whole event, check out Comic Book Herald’s complete guide to Dark Nights Metal.
Collects: Justice League #8-12
At the end of Metal, the Batman Who Laughs is subdued, but in the pages of the Scott Snyder written Justice League we learn that he’s now kept imprisoned by Lex Luthor. The Legion of Doom leader is effectively wielding the Batman Who Laughs like a weapon here, much to the chagrin of the Joker, who is quite rightly bothered by the very existence of this Dark Multiverse creation.
Scott Snyder and Jock reunite for a seven issue miniseries of Batman vs. The Batman Who Laughs. I felt like the story would have worked better as an “Elseworlds” tale, but make no mistake, this saga of The Batman Who Laughs murdering multiversal Bruce Waynes and attempting to infect all of Gotham is somehow very much in continuity.
Note for those reading outside the collected edition, The Grim Knight one-shot was published after Batman Who Laughs #3.
Batman/Superman #1 to #5
“The Infected” crossover begins here! The Batman Who Laughs sows discord and distrust throughout the DC Universe by infecting a “secret six” selection of DC heroes!
Collects: “Hell Arisen” #1 to #4
“The Infected” and the “Year of the Villain” intersect in this Batman who Laughs vs. Apex Lex throwdown for all the villainous marbles.