Trade Post: Batman The Man Who Laughs

batman the man who laughs Batman: The Man Who Laughs (DC)
Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Doug Mahnke & Patrick Zircher
Collects Batman: The Man Who Laughs, Detective Comics #784-786

I’ve gone a little crazy requesting trades from my local library network. It’s been a lot of fun searching for all kinds of books I may have missed over the years or haven’t read in a while. Batman: The Man Who Laughs actually combines both of these because I somehow missed Ed Brubaker’s take on the Joker in the 2005 Man Who Laughs one-shot, but did read the three issue run on Detective Comics from 2003 also included in this collection.

I remember Man Who Laughs being a pretty big deal when I started working at Wizard in 2005. The prestige format book had come out before I got there and Brubaker’s star was definitely on the rise. A few of the guys on staff were huge fans of Gotham Central, which Bru co-wrote with Greg Rucka and so there was a lot of buzz about his then-new Captain America run and his other projects including the excellent Sleeper. Because of this, Man Who Laughs was a tough book to get your hands on in the Wizard library as people were constantly asking about it. Plus, one book like this can be very difficult to find in a huge, fairly unorganized library like that.

Basically, MWL is a story about the first meeting between Batman and the Joker. It acts as a nice sister story to Batman: Year One because, up to this point, the Dark Knight has only really faced off against mobsters, criminals and street thugs, but the appearance of the Joker takes things to a whole new psychotic level. In true Joker fashion, he comes on the scene like a bomb, presents rules for a game that he has no intention of following and eventually finds out exactly what kind of adversary he has in the form of Batman. Like I said when I wrote about the Lex Luthor-centric run of Action Comics recently, this is one of those stories that helps define a hero by the villains he attracts. Plus, as I’ve said in many a Books Of Oa post, Doug Mahnke is just the best and should draw everything ever.His Joker is waaaay creepy.

After that you’ve got a three issue arc from Detective Comics that teamed a pair of Gotham’s protectors up to solve a series of murders with roots back in the post-WWII era. Green Lantern Alan Scott tried to find a serial killer back in the day who carved “Made of Wood” into his victims. When a new killer with the same MO pops up in modern times, he joins forces with Batman to figure out what’s going on. This is a pretty straightforward whodunnit with a retired Jim Gordon working the case from a different angle. This is the kind of crime solving tale Bru became known for in Gotham Central, but with the added flare of seeing a par of superheroes working the case that makes stories like this set in a shared superhero universe fun.

I got pretty nostalgic reading these issues of Detective Comics because they came out when I was in college. I would come home for a break and my mom or dad would have my pull list waiting for me. I’d spend a good deal of time organizing everything and then putting them in a desired reading order before diving in. These comics reading experiences were much further and farther between than I was used to, but they were a lot more intense because it was such an immersive, deep-dive experience. When we get into a house one of the many things I’m looking forward to is getting my comic collection all in one place so I can go back, re-read books like this and see what’s worth keeping.

Halloween Scene Trade Post: Terror Inc.

TERROR INC. (Marvel)
Written by David Lapham, drawn by Patrick Zircher
Collects Terror Inc. Vol. 2 #1-5
When Marvel’s Terror Inc. came out from the adult-oriented MAX line in 2007, I had never read an appearance of the character, was not a fan of Lapham’s (haven’t read Stray Bullets, but HATED his run on Detective Comics) and yet, I really dug the book. It reminded me of the days when Vertigo was the home of weird, wild and violent versions of DC Characters no one really cared about. The idea is that a long time ago, this dude got cursed with eternal life, but his limbs would rot. As a bonus, he could get rid of the old parts and his body would accept new ones, integrate them into his body and read their memories. Nowadays he works as an assassin with his helper Mrs. Primo. After a lengthy flashback sequence explaining where he came from, Terror gets a job that turns out to be a set up benefiting a terrorist group. The rest of the story follows our hero as he eviscerates his enemies, absorbing more parts along the way than I can count.

Lapham does a good job of keeping the story tight and action-packed with lots of blood and gore to keep me interested. Plus, Zircher’s art in this book is just SICK. He does a great job of drawing everything from the monster hero to the super-hot Mrs. Primo and elaborate machines to intricately detailed guts. I liked the guy on Cable/Deadpool (a really under-rated bookto my mind) but he really got to flex some muscles on Terror Inc.

Even though it’s filled with blood, guts and curses, the book actually feels more like a big screen action movie with aspects from other genres. If I was a producer trying to get this movie made, I’d get Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the guys who did Crank, Crank 2 and Gamer) to direct and see how they can do an action/horror movie. My only problem with the book is that Terror kept saying that the curse was in the arm Terror keeps from his long-dead wife, which doesn’t make sense with the story. Maybe I missed something. Anyone else read this book? Thoughts?