There are times when curiosity gets the best of people. These times often lead to discoveries from beyond our understanding. Sometimes, those discoveries unleash monsters seeking destruction. Such is the case with Scott Snyder’s Dark Nights: Metal, a 2017 comic book event from Detective Comics, also known as DC comics. In this event, there are fifty-two parallel earths in what is known as the multiverse. Batman, a human tactician who has mastered every fighting technique, has peered too far into the multiverse, thus getting the attention of a hybrid creature, the Batman Who Laughs. Additionally, The Batman Who Laughs is a monster that primarily resembles the theories mentioned in theses one and five of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” After unveiling this monster’s exclusive traits, it will become evident why theses one and five are most suitable for this creature.
The Batman Who Laughs is a creature from the dark-multiverse where worlds are created from people’s’ fears and hopes. Bruce Wayne, the Batman, has accidentally opened a doorway for an army of Batmen to cross over from the nightmare worlds onto earth. These so called Batmen have come to invade earth to cause chaos and destruction. There are seven dark knights, all different version of the original Batman; however, the most formidable one is The Batman Who Laughs. He is a hybrid monster with the brains and body of Bruce Wayne and the insanity of the clown prince, The Joker. Furthermore, this creature is a dark and twisted reflection of Batman. He has a sinister smile that resembles The Joker and like The Batman, he has a gothic leather look. This monster wears a visor-cowl over his eyes that give him the Batman look. He also wields three jokerdized robins in chains.
In “Dark Nights: Metal #3,” The Batman Who Laughs states that every time a person feared or hoped for something, it would give birth to a new world in the nightmare worlds. Moreover, each of the dark knights is Wayne’s fears come to life (Snyder 14). The idea that a monster is born from peoples’ inner fear comes from Jeffrey Cohen’s “Monster Culture, Thesis I: The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body.” He asserts that “the monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), giving them life and an uncanny independence” (Cohen 4). The Batman Who Laughs fits perfectly to Cohen’s theory of a monster incorporating fears and desires into a being. Bruce Wayne has always had a no-kill rule that he must oblige by. However, his fear of crossing the line and killing one day gave birth to earth -22. In this alternate earth from the dark-multiverse, The Joker succeeds in taking over Gotham city killing Batman’s closest ally, the commissioner. Batman finally decides to end their long year rivalry by killing his long time opponent. After Joker dies however, a toxin is released infecting Batman and shutting off his moral compass. He becomes this infected monster seeking to destroy anything in his path and making it his mission to eradicate. In “Monsters on the Brain: An Evolutionary Epistemology of Horror,” Stephen T. Asma observes that “we use the imagination in order to establish and guide our own agency in chaotic and uncontrollable situations” (Asma 954). Just the like dark-multiverse that gave birth to new earths every time Batman and the heroes of earth feared for situations that were out of their hands. The mind tends to wonder in different directions when people are afraid. They create ideas and feelings of dread and terror creating new monsters everyday. The Batman Who Laughs is a metaphor in real life for the fear we have within us. It creates monsters that seek to destroy the well being of the body.
Snyder’s monster is also an idea that is based of “Monster Culture, Thesis V: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible.” In this thesis, Cohen articulates “the monster stands as a warning against exploration of its uncertain demesnes” (Cohen 12). Curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge caused Batman to call forth dark version of him from the nightmare worlds, the dark-multiverse. Batman is always seeking knowledge to better his state of mind and to prepare for the worst. Since the multiverse was created, he studied them closely using a cosmic tuning tower to learn more about the different earths in this realm. However, by searching too far, he was used as a portal for the evil Batmen to enter in this reality causing a mess in the world. In “The Flash #33, Bats Out of Hell part one,” as part of the Dark Nights: Metal event, The Flash explains that “the known multiverse exists on different vibrational planes and this cosmic tower was designed to align them. But Batman studying it is part of why we’re all in this mess to begin with” (Williamson 7). The Batman Who Laughs stands as a warning of further exploring of the unknown. He shows the heroes of earth that you don’t mess with things that are not comprehensible.
The idea behind DC’s epic event comes from the study of mirror worlds by physicists. What if they actually exist in our world? Physicists have always studied the way our universe works and they have found studies that reveal the existence of other worlds. “In 1928, Paul Dirac realized that the equations of quantum mechanics allowed for the existence of particles with properties beyond those anyone had seen before […] and predicted that the hidden worlds of antimatter would double the number of fundamental particles known in the universe” (Brooks). In comics, it is reflected through Batman the possibilities of alternate realities. It even goes further into mirror worlds, dark versions of those realities. Batman represents our curiosity of the unknown and The Batman Who Laughs represents the outcome of seeking greater knowledge of the universe.
Batman has always been part of pop culture, weather you know him through comics or movies, his name alone is recognizable. Scott Snyder took advantage of this character to create a new sinister monster. He combined the likeness of The Joker and Batman to create something terrifying and unique, The Batman Who Laughs. Fans of The Batman mythos have critically acclaimed his creature. It is an A monster suitable of Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” that represents his theses one and five. Snyder gives readers a warning of fears made into life and the dangers that lurk in the unknown. The Batman Who Laughs is overall scary. Not only does he have a sinister smile, he also has no remorse and gives the readers nightmares. Now remember, if you look too far, don’t be surprise when you hear a sinister laugh creep up behind you.
Asma, Stephen T. “Monsters on the Brain: An Evolutionary Epistemology of Horror.” Social Research, vol. 81, no. 4, Winter 2014, pp. 941–968. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=102354688&site=ehost-live. Asmas studies the physiology behind fears and what causes them in people. He helps the readers understand the evolution of the mind as well. I am using this source to help me tie it with Batman’s creation of The Batman Who Laughs through his fears. The source is reliable because it is written by a social researcher studying the human mind based on fears.
Brooks, Michael. “Welcome to the Mirror World.” New Scientist, vol. 242, no. 3233, June 2019, pp. 34–37. EBSCOhost. Michael Brooks’s research is about the studies done by physicist on the possibility of alternate realities. He gives different examples on how the research came about. I am using this source as a way to tie it to my second paragraph. The comic event comes from the idea that there are multiple worlds in our reality. This source is reliable because it is a research done by physicist that hypothesizes on the possibility of mirror worlds.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis)” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, 1996 pp. 3-20. Cohen theorizes the seven different theses that make up a monster. He goes into detail describing each theses and how its become part of our culture. I am using this source to talk about theses one and five as part of my monster evaluation. This source is reliable because it is written by a professor of english and director of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Snyder, Scott. “Dark Nights: Metal #3.” Dark Nights: Metal, no. 3, Detective Comics, 16 Aug. 2017. Scott Snyder is the creator of the 2017 Dark Nights: Metal event. In this event, Batman opens a portal to the dark multiverse and accidently brings evil versions of himself. This event lasted six issues with a couple tie-ins. I am using issue three to talk about the origins of The Batman Who Laughs. This source is reliable because he is a professional writer.
Williamson, Joshua. “The Flash #33.” The Flash: Bats Out of Hell Part One, no. 33, Detective Comics, 25 Oct. 2017. Joshua Williamson writes this tie-in issued to Snyders comic event. In this issue The Flash explains to his colleague how all the chaos that was caused by the evil Batmen was Batman’s fault. Concurrently, the evil dark knights attack them and they get captured. I am using this single issue as my source to talk about how it ties to Cohen’s thesis five. This source is reliable because it is written by a professional writer.