Overview: With one decision, we see Bruce become the most lethal Batman in the multiverse.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): In the sewers of Gotham, the Grim Knight escorts Jim Gordon to The Batman Who Laughs. Gordon tries to appeal to the Knight’s noble side. He states the man underneath this Batman costume is the same one who is Gordon’s friend on this Earth. He tells the Knight he does not have to do this. He does not have to follow the Batman Who Laughs’ plans.
Gordon asks where they are. The Grim Knight knows exactly where; they are underneath Crime Alley – where this all began.
On that cold night many years ago, Bruce heard the loudest noise he had ever heard when Joe Chill shot his parents. He thought he would be trapped in that moment forever. His parents were murdered before him, and he did not have time to tell them goodbye. On another Earth, this may have been Bruce’s eternal prison. But on this Earth, he would fight back.
After Joe Chill shot the Waynes, he frantically looked for Martha’s pearl necklace. He threw his pistol to the side and searched the immediate area. Bruce looked at it and looked back at Chill. At that moment, he chose to not be stuck in that moment forever. He picked up the gun and shot Joe Chill multiple times.
In the present, the Batman Who Laughs radios the Knight and wants a status report. He states the Knight has gone off the route. The Knight mutes his radio and continues walking.
Gordon asks the Knight why he is doing all of this. It makes sense why the Batman Who Laughs is the way he is. He has seen Batman do a whole host of ridiculous things to avoid firing a gun even if it is the most logical thing to do. But, the Knight is different. He kills with an efficiency the Batman does not have. He asks why this.
The Knight knows why. It took years of training and learning everything he could from every assassin and mercenary across the world to gain the skills necessary for his mission. However, it was still not enough. He needed a way to kill evil. He needed a weapon to become Gotham’s angel of death. Late one night in the study, a bat flew through the window. Bruce immediately shoots the animal down. But at that moment he knows what he must do: he shall become a bat.
When the Knight first started his campaign against evil as the Batman, he paid a visit to a particular dinner party. However, these guests at this party were crime lords and corrupt politicians. The Knight blew a hole in the wall and stepped through. He tells them they have eaten well. They have eaten Gotham’s wealth and it’s spirit. But, their time to feast is over. And with that, he burns all of them alive.
After his statement to Gotham’s filth, he went after any of those who walked in the path of evil. He took down Falcone, Zucco, and all the other crime bosses. This was the beginning of his scorched Earth campaign.
Gordon asks the Knight if the Joker is as screwed up as the one on his Earth. Gordon then wonders if it was also Two-Face, the Owls, or Bane that drove the Knight mad.
Because of the Knight’s efficiency, there was never any colorful rogues gallery. As his mission continued, the Knight faced an enemy far more focused and determined than any other Batman from any other universe.
The Knight takes Gordon inside his hideout. He has Gordon’s office and home under surveillance, but what was worse is the Knight also has his daughter’s, Barbara’s, apartment under watch. The Batman Who Laughs has dastardly things planned for him and his family. It took the Knight a lot of convincing to make the Batman Who Laughs to change his plans. The Knight ties up Gordon in a chair and declares he wants to save him. A swift death is a gift instead of what the Batman Who Laughs has planned.
The Knight thought back to his past. The Gordon on his earth was not much different than the one on this earth. Despite the rest of the GCPD, Gordon was fundamentally against the Knight’s actions. The Knight could no longer be judge, jury, and executioner of Gotham.
Gordon’s first attempt to bring the Knight down was by ambush. Using the Bat-Signal, he summoned the Knight on the GCPD’s rough top. As the Knight drew closer, Gordon unleashed his surprise – the Bat-Signal was refitted with a powerful magnet. Gordon was able to incapacitate the Knight. However, the Knight tells him his plan is a failure. The Knight asks the group of officers, who accompanied Gordon to the rooftop, how much Gordon paid them. He also tells them they can take off all their masks, he knows who each and every one of them are. Gordon tells him he used the best tech from Wayne Enterprises to conceal their identities. The Knight smiles and tells him it was money spent well.
The officers’ body armor begins to glow red with intense heat, and the officers’ chests explode. The Knight calls out a disarm code, and the magnet disengages. The Knight congratulates Gordon for being a worthy opponent, but he leaves Gordon alive on the rooftop surrounded by the dead officers. He warns Gordon to leave him alone. The Knight walks away, and Gordon sees two explosions in the night sky. Dispatch tells him Blackgate prison and Arkham Asylum have been blown up.
The Knight thinks back to the good days where he had Gotham in his hands. In the cave, he tells Alfred the city is his scythe. Earlier that night, he poisoned a child predator, shot a mugger who was planning to kill, and he killed a corrupt judge. Alfred tells him this is not what he signed up for. The Knight threatens Alfred if he leaves, but Alfred tells him to go ahead and activate the bomb in his head. Alfred walks away, and the Knight chooses to spare him. He then asks the computer for an update on Gordon, and the computer responds it has been six weeks since there was a sighting.
In a hideout, Gordon figures out who the Knight is – the Knight is Bruce Wayne.
Gordon goes to Harvey Dent, the mayor, and presents evidence the Knight is Bruce Wayne. He has a warrant and tells them they also have the assistance of the FBI.
Gordon and company go to the Wayne Manor and calls Bruce to come out peacefully. Bruce tells him he must have had the wrong person. Gordon states Alfred has given them the kill codes. There is nothing more he can do except surrender. In a moment of rage, Bruce pulls a gun on Gordon and Gordon disarms him. Gordon humiliated Bruce in front of the GCPD and FBI. Bruce lost his focus because of his rage – a rage fueled by having his life mission stopped.
Seated in front of the Knight, he tells Gordon he wanted him to understand and long for the kind of order the Knight longed for. He draws his pistol and places it Gordon’s temple. He pulls back the hammer and squeezes the trigger. Before the hammer can hit the bullet, the Batman Who Laughs interrupts and stops the gun from firing. He tells the Knight this is not the way. The Knight tells him this Gordon is not the same as the one on his Earth. He is ill-equipped for their plans. The Batman Who Laughs agrees with the Knight but tells him Gordon must understand anyway. Gordon asks why stop the Knight from having his revenge? The Batman Who Laughs tells him the Knight was showing him mercy because what he has planned for him is worse than death.
Analysis: Ever since the first issue of this miniseries, I have been in love with the Grim Knight. He is basically Marvel’s Punisher and Batman combined into one.
Just like the Dark Knights: Metal preludes, we learn how the Grim Knight became the Grim Knight. Bruce picked up Chill’s gun and kills him. An eight-year-old grabbing a gun and shooting his attacker is bold.
In stressful situations, our bodies go into a state of fight or flight. This is common knowledge. In some extreme situations, our brains will shut down and we will freeze. This is a way for our bodies to protect ourselves. The Bruce Wayne from the earth we know and love froze that night. In fact, you could say he is still frozen at that moment. He is still a child in shock, and he is dealing with this tragedy the best way he knows how. This is why the Batman Who Laughs told Bruce he is the most miserable version out of all the Bruce Waynes in the multiverse. Bruce cannot escape that moment. He is still frozen.
However, the Grim Knight chose to fight. He grabbed the gun and shot Chill. He got closure on his parents’ murders. His life’s mission was to eliminate evil. We see the Knight’s Year One story. He goes to the dinner party and burns them all alive. When I read that page, that is when I understood how far this Batman is willing to go to eliminate crime and corruption. In the original Year One, Batman crashes the party, throws a smoke bomb, and delivers a threat. The Grim Knight eliminated the threat permanently.
I have liked the other Batman’s from across the Multiverse, but I connect to the Grim Knight the most. His story is extremely organic. Just by one decision, he would become a totally different Batman – one that would eliminate all evil instead of seeking justice.
However, we still see the Knight being human. Although his Gordon was one of his greatest adversaries, he still had great respect for his opponent. He is trying to save Gordon from the Batman Who Laughs’ plans. I was surprised by that. It also seems the Knight is not on board and potentially threatened by what the Batman Who Laughs is up to.
I felt the art was okay. It is definitely a step below the great work Jock has done in this miniseries. I would give the art a middle rating as it was just lackluster.
Final Thoughts: I’ll bet anyone ten dollars that the Grim Knight turns on the Batman Who Laughs.