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[This story contains spoilers for DC’s The Batman Who Laughs No. 7.]
DC has teased its upcoming Batman/Superman comic book series by hinting at the identity of the “Secret Six” — six characters infected with a virus that will transform them into corrupted versions of themselves. But, as the final issue of the Batman Who Laughs series reveals, the corruption is already underway.
Throughout its run, The Batman Who Laughs has featured Bruce Wayne struggling against the effects of his own infection, after being given a toxin that was transforming him into something akin to the Joker — the Batman Who Laughs of the series’ title. That there’s also a villain called the Batman Who Laughs (who happens to be the Bruce Wayne from an alternate dimension) trying to transform the regular Batman into the Batman Who Laughs merely speaks to the existential meta-textuality of the entire series.
It was the latter Batman Who Laughs — the one from the alternate dimension — who is responsible for the story’s final twist: After the Batman Who Laughs has been captured and his plan to corrupt the entire city of Gotham foiled, an epilogue to the series reveals that at least one character has, unbeknownst to anyone else, fallen prey to his scheme: Commissioner James Gordon, who stares at the reader with all-black eyes and claims that he’s not only feeling fine, “in fact, never better.”
If the corruption of Gordon seems like a big step, it’s just the beginning; previews and advance solicitation copy for the Batman/Superman series have revealed that three more heroes are expected to join Gordon in his altered state: Shazam!, Hawkman and Supergirl.
In April, Batman/Superman writer Josh Williamson told Heat Vision that the story of the transformed characters is one that will prove to be increasingly important to DC’s comic book superhero line in coming months.
“It definitely changes the DCU in a lot of ways, it impacts the characters and the dynamic between some of them, moving forward in the next year,” he said, with Batman/Superman artist David Marquez adding, “This isn’t throwaway, like ‘everything is perfect and back to normal,’ illusion of change stuff.”
The Batman Who Laughs No. 7 is available digitally and in comic book stores now. Batman/Superman is set to be released Aug. 28.
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