Brubaker’s The Man Who Laughs is generally highly regarded as a great Joker story. I don’t get it. Maybe I don’t get the appeal of the Joker, because I also didn’t like Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum and people lose their minds over that one, as well. Well, it’s up to you. Just know that it wasn’t for me. Fortunately, Brubaker’s Joker story is only half of this particular collection. The back half of this trade paperback also includes Detective Comics #784-786, which is an awesome short run featuring OG Green Lantern Alan Scott.
(For my literal money, Detective Comics always has the best Batman stories. It’s amazing to me how high the quality of the writing has been over the decades. I’ve got fantastic stories from the 1980s-2000s in my collection.)
This version of Green Lantern was first active in 1940, and these stories put him in roughly that same time. He’s an old fashioned good guy, and a dark, unsolved crime from his past has come back to haunt modern day Gotham. A hobbled Jim Gordon, a delightfully brooding Batman, and all-around good guy Alan Scott team up in a race against the clock to stop a serial killer.
The mystery itself is interesting, but what I liked the most was the interaction between Batman and the Lantern. At one point, Batman says out loud something along the lines of, “This crime is beneath you,” meaning he doesn’t want Alan Scott to have to sludge through the muck that Wayne is so used to living in. It kind of reminded me of the scene in Civil War in which the Punisher gets slapped around by Steve Rogers and just takes it because he respects the man so much. It’s sad to me that Batman thinks so little of himself, and there’s a couple of panels in the comic showing Alan Scott might think so, too.