Title: The Man Who Laughs
Author: Ed Brubaker
Illustrator: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
An Unbalanced Collection of Two Batman Stories - 3 stars - a book review
I still cannot imagine for the life of me why DC Comics published these two Batman stories together in one volume, let alone why the volume was name The Man Who Laughs (other than the title story sharing the same name). I can only wager a guess that when it was published The Dark Knight (the movie) was looming on the horizon and DC Comics wanted to get as much Joker/Batman as they could on the shelves. The two stories contained in this graphic novel include Batman: The Man Who Laughs and Batman: Made of Wood.
Batman: The Man Who Laughs introduces (again) the Joker, Batman's number one villain and a fan favorite from the beginning. While the story is familiar to most (especially those outside the comic world who have seen the original Batman movie), it is portrayed in an excellent, very straightforward fashion. There is not a lot of depth to the story; but the visuals and characterizations are what make this story strong.
Batman: Made of Wood was originally a three part story in Detective Comics, revolving around an unsolved mystery. Not only does the Joker not appear in this arc, but the Green Lantern makes an appearance. The story itself is a typical murder mystery with a retired Jim Gordon playing a major role as well. The depiction of Jim Gordon is perfect, in my opinion. In a collection titled The Man Who Laughs, one would expect the Joker to be a central figure in both stories; however, no mention of the Joker is made in Made of Wood.
Both stories are well told and wonderfully illustrated, making the stories real and full of life; but the seemingly polar opposites of the stories make this an awkward collection. With so many great Joker stories out there, and trying to capitalize on the Batman/Joker mania with the upcoming (at the time of publication) The Dark Knight film, could there not have been a better collection? Especially considering that Batman: Made of Wood was longer than Batman: The Man Who Laughs.
Fans of Batman will be sure to enjoy this one; but fans of the Joker will surely be disappointed.
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