(Sort of) spoilers ahead for Justice League #7.
The conclusion to this week’s Justice League #7 revealed that Lex Luthor has been keeping the Batman Who Laughs in a dungeon beneath the Hall of Doom.
Well, technically the solicitation for this month's Justice League #8 (cover above) revealed it three months ago. But that's neither here nor there.
Why would Lex Luthor need to speak with the Batman Who Laughs?
And how does this tie into the The Batman Who Laughs limited series that Scott Snyder and Jock are creating for six issues beginning in December?
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out.
Newsarama: Scott, in this week’s Justice League issue from you and Jim Cheung, we saw the debut of Starman in the title, a surprise that you already explained. But there’s another surprise — it looks like Lex Luthor has the Batman Who Laughs chained up in his basement. Can you provide some insight into that moment we just saw at the end of Justice League #7?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, Lex has him chained up in, like, a three-level-down dungeon inside of the Hall of Doom. So the whole idea is that he’s locked him there with magic, with cosmic forces, with literal material forces, so he can’t get out.
Nrama: Why does Lex want him?
Snyder: Lex understands how key the Batman Who Laughs is to this whole story of the Multiverse, because he’s one of the few figures that, having been sort of a conqueror and the great supervillain of the Dark Multiverse, has seen many, many versions of how this whole thing could play out, given people’s worst fears and highest hopes.
So he’s an extremely powerful character to the story.
Nrama: OK, so how does this lead into the The Batman Who Laughs mini-series you’re doing with Jock?
Snyder: What we’re going to do in The Batman Who Laughs in December is relatively self-standing, but if you want to know how he gets out and what sets up everything that’s going to happen in that series, it begins in Justice League #7.
Nrama: And we’ll find out more about Lex’s purposes for him, and how he contributes to the Justice League story, in future issues of Justice League?
Snyder: Yeah, right away. He’s actually the focus of Justice League #8, the “Legion of Doom” issue.
The issue really focuses on a conversation between him and Lex Luthor. It raises the stakes of the whole series tremendously.
Nrama: OK, so I’m trying to imagine this conversation and why it’s so important. I guess they’re both super-intelligent, though, right?
Snyder: Right. I mean, what I love about him … I mean, people think he’s kind of the Joker, but he’s not.
Nrama: He’s Bruce Wayne.
Snyder: Yeah, he’s Batman. He’s Bruce.
Some of my favorite lines from him are the reminders that he’s Bruce Wayne. There are some amazing lines from James [Tynion IV, who wrote Justice League #8] and in the Legion of Doom series that’s coming up.
So Lex says to him at one point, how do I do this? Why did I not win the way I thought I would win in that first battle with the Justice League?
And he says, “Well, do you remember back when you joined the Justice League, you came to the Batcave and you asked me how to win over everybody?”
Nrama: So the Batman Who Laughs has shared memories from the Bruce Wayne we know?
Snyder: Yeah, he has the same memories as Bruce, up to a certain point, up to Dark Nights: Metal. So he says, “Do you remember what I told you? And by the way, do you remember the little sandwiches that Alfred made us, with that pepper jam? I miss those so much.”
Nrama: OK, so that suddenly makes him a really interesting resource for Lex.
Snyder: Yeah, Batman is a character that looks at everybody from every angle, and he has this kind of analytical mind. Where Martian Manhunter, for example, is the most empathetic and thinks about how everybody’s feeling.
Batman sort of sees the strategy of how everyone’s going to act.
When you get a Batman Who Laughs — a Batman who’s completely evil, with no codes, no restrictions — all he thinks about all the time is how to win.
That joke about how Batman always wins? This is the way Batman always wins. He is the ultimate apex predator of the DCU. There’s nobody he hasn’t considered in some way or thought about eight ways or a hundred ways to bring them down.
So you can keep him in a cage, but even as you’ll see in that “Legion of Doom” issue, he’s like, “I’m in a cage because I want to be in a cage right now. You’ll never get the one-up on me.”
So I love him.
Nrama: So yeah, it’s as if he’s the Joker, but so much worse.
Snyder: Joker, to me, exists in relation to Batman — at least our version of him. He doesn’t really exist in relation to the DCU. He doesn’t think about Superman. He doesn’t really think about, you know, Aquaman.
But the Batman Who Laughs is like the “Tower of Babel” arc by Mark Waid writ exponentially larger.
This is Batman if he wasn’t just, like, how do I take you down in case you go bad? It’s like, how do I discover a hundred ways to take you down and enact all of them immediately?
So that’s why I love writing him, because there’s just nothing — he’s almost the most evil and most vicious and most predatory character you can imagine. There’s just nothing that’s too far for him, in terms of, you know, no one’s off limits, from Alfred to anybody for him.
Nrama: You keep packing these issues with surprises, and this week, you had two new concepts at the end. I mean, it’s like, “but wait! There’s more!”
Snyder: Yeah. We do slow it down in the next couple issues, to give people a minute to catch their breath, but then it goes even farther in the next arc or two.
Newsarama note: Courtesy DC, here's the solicitation for December's The Batman Who Laughs #1.
THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #1
written by SCOTT SNYDER
art and cover by JOCK
variant cover by BEN OLIVER
“A Batman who laughs is a Batman who always wins.”
Left rattled by the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Bruce Wayne must come face to face with the nightmares spawned from the Dark Multiverse. But even though evil devoured evil in the collapse of Challengers Mountain, the Dark Knight still has his doubts. He discovers that the Batman Who Laughs not only survived the fight with The Joker at the end of METAL, but now he is enacting a sinister plan across the Multiverse—something both terrifying and oddly familiar. But when Bruce Wayne realizes the only way to stop this madman is to kill him, he must consider violating the very rule Batman won’t break…the same rule that created this insatiable villain—the Batman Who Laughs!
ON SALE 12.12.18