Flashback Friday: The Batman Who Laughs
*** ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 6, 2017 ***
Sigh… Let's do this Batman Who Laughs thing and get it over with… We'll start with the facts so we can get everyone on the same page.
So we can all agree, those two statements are true… So let's look at the individual books.
Fact 1: Scott Snyder said the first appearance of The Batman Who Laughs is Metal #2.
Fact 2: Metal #2 1st print has a total print run of 149,487 reportedly sold through Diamond. The 2nd printing is reported to have sold 13,336 copies through Diamond.
Fact 3: The Batman Who Laughs appears in the center of a double page spread and a close up on one panel on the last page. He speaks in 2 word balloons. The first is “I'm right here” and the second is “This is gonna be fun.”
Fact 4: Barbatos, the Robins and Baby Darkseid have larger appearances in this issue than Batman Who Laughs.
Side notes: The lowest print run version of Metal #2 is the Gabrielle Dell'otto Red Virgin Variant. Due to damaged copies and replacements, there seems to be questions as to how many copies are actually in circulation; it's supposed to be 950. Also the replacement copies probably factor into the total number of Metal #2 2nd printing copies. The NYCC Blue virgin Dell'otto I believe is also going to be part of that 2nd printing run.. since one would think DC would have run the replacement reds and the NYCC Blues at the same time.
Fact 1: The Batman Who Laughs appears on cover A.
Fact 1: The Batman Who Laughs is the major antagonist for the issue. So naturally he appears throughout the comic. The exact number of pages is only 3 and a page of word balloons on a 4th page. His creepy Robins also appear on the first page attacking the Riddler. So depending on how you look at it, that's roughly 25% of the 20 page comic.
Fact 3: The combined print run for both Teen Titans #12 covers A and B is 57,359 copies total, reported from Diamond.
Fact 4: We don't know the individual print runs for covers A and B. There seems to be fewer copies of Cover B out there.
OK, so that's the information that's important to the market, right? We can all agree that those things listed above are more or less true and factors into the larger discussion… So here's where I throw you for a loop…
Prior to Metal #3, the Batman Who Laughs largest in comic appearance is actually Green Arrow #32. BWL has been the major antagonist for the Metal Tie-in crossover, BUT his largest appearance is in the final chapter, which is Green Arrow #32. Everything else up to this point is a brief appearance. GA#32 is also brief if I'm being totally honest.
What about the Metal #3 virgin variant!
Ben Steiniger said it best in the Top 10, “this cover art is just sick–like next level sick“. I'd add that this cover just sums up the Batman Who Laughs so succinctly. At the time of writing this, there is no other cover image of BWL like it. It will be sought after for as long as BWL is relevant and it's his only real “full issue appearance” early on.
It's also important to point out the other two verison of this shared variant cover have Robin cropped out of the image. Making the virgin variant truly unique, scarce, and just that much more creepy. For many people, this book might be out of their price range. So my advice is settle for the color version with trade dressing.
Does any of this really matter?
Let's cut the crap, this argument is very simple and really comes down to print runs. It's not even about the size of the Batman Who Laughs appearance in any book. It's about a grading company slapping the answer you want on a label to justify a price you want someone else to pay you for it. Since we're not talking about actually reading it, we're talking about future value… Lower print run variant covers will assuredly factor into that. So here's what this all really boils down to…
- Metal #2, combined print run 1st and 2nd print = 162,823
- Metal #2 Red Virgin Dell'Otto 950 copies according to the retailer.
- Teen Titans #12 combined print run of both covers A and B = 57,359 copies.
- Green Arrow #32 combined print run of both covers A and B = 48,898 copies.
- Metal #3, combined 1st print run = 158,698*
- Metal #3 Virgin Mattina 600 copies according to the retailer.
*Second printing numbers are unavailable at time of publication.
While I'm being blunt about all this, because of the size of the print runs, neither Metal #2 or Teen Titans #12 are going to be the huge money book people are hoping they will, but I could be wrong. Due to the quickly growing popularity of BWL, $20-$30 doesn't sound out of line right now for TT#12, which is what it's selling at on eBay.
When you look at the sales on eBay, Teen Titans #12 is the book people are clearly buying; it's not the A, B and C covers of Metal #2 that's for sure… well they are, but at below cover price in most cases. The Metal #2 Red Dell'otto Virgin is still available from Bulletproof's website at the time of writing this.
When the dust settles and smoke clears it's going to probably end up being the Metal #3 Virgin Mattina that will command the highest prices of these early BWL appearances.
What about the Batman Who Laughs One Shot?
Yes, of course this book matters. It's his origin story after all. So yes it's important but it also was released after the aforementioned books. It's awesome, you should own it as with all the books mentioned here and dare I say actually read it.
What about those future Metal covers?
I won't lie, both the issue #4 Mattina and the issue #5 Dell'otto covers are dope, no doubt. I think they both have merit. Personally, I like the Metal #4 with the Metal logo on it better than the virgin. If you read my new column it's obvious I dig trade dressing. The Metal #5 Virgin is another in a long line of absolutely exquisite Dell'Otto covers.
Look, comics are supposed to be fun, not nearly this level of arguing, bickering and pretending to care about a character's first appearance when what people really care about is long term value… otherwise they would own all the issues in question. I'm not going to pretend I don't like money cuz that would be a flat out lie. For me the money and value will always be secondary to the love of the comic art medium.
That's all for this year, see you again in 2018!
Check out my new column, “Wouldn't That Make a Great Cover!” every Monday!
Updated: OK, seems like some folks feel that Dark Days: The Casting and Dark Nights: The Red Death should be added to the conversation…
Dark Days: The Casting: I intentionally left this book out because it's more important when talking about Barbatos in my estimation as opposed to the Batman Who Laughs. The major reason it was left out is because of Scott Snyder's statement pertaining to Metal #2 being the first appearance of BWL and not this book. It sells for $4-5 with an estimated print run of 128,261 copies sold through Diamond. It contains the BWL and the other Dark Nights in shadow at the top of the final page splash. For those who are unaware, it predates Metal.
Dark Nights: The Red Death: This book was released after Metal #2 and TT#12. It breaks down to roughly 3 pages of narration scattered across 4 or 5 pages. About 4 panels of word balloons across the bottom of a double page spread and a total of 2 close-ups of BWL's teeth. It was pointed out that it's been selling around $25 shipped on eBay. The print run is roughly 81,904 1st prints and 9,841 2nd printings reported sold through Diamond for a combined total of 91,745. So it appears some people believe in this book enough to spend the same type of money that TT#12 is selling for.
Side Note: BWL makes some type of brief appearance in each of the one shots.
Metal #1 It contains the BWL and the other Dark Nights in shadow in the middle of a page splash. It comes down to there's no real descript image of them… think of it like this. If you are talking to someone and say, “the Dark Nights are coming”. If you have no idea who these Dark Nights are, people would not be able to form an accurate image in their minds as to what these characters look like. Since comics are a visual medium, this and The Casting are both visual cheats. Which is why Scott Snyder has said Metal #2 is the BWL's first appearance, not Metal #1 or The Casting.
Well for those in the Metal #2 camp, now there's finally a 3rd printing with a Batman Who Laughs Cover, by Francesco Mattina. The print runs are 700 Virgin, 700 Black and White, 3000 Color. This cover is almost as creepy as the Metal 3 by Mattina… almost.
This Comic Disambiguation Flashback was originally posted on December 6, 2017 by Skot Whitman. You can see the original post and comments and add to the discussion here.