Flashback Friday: The Batman Who Laughs 




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.

Fact 1: Both Metal #2 and Teen Titans #12 were released on the same day.

Fact 2: Reading order is, Metal #2, Teen Titans #12, Nightwing #29, Suicide Squad #26, Green Arrow #32 and Metal #3… Trust me, this is actually important to the larger discussion.

So we can all agree, those two statements are true… So let's look at the individual books.

Dark Night Metal #2

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.

Teen Titans #12

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…

*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.

Update 12/10/2017

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.

Update 01/07/2018

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.



  • Avatar

    Red Dell’Otto Metal 2 virgin variant. Bulletproof Wonderwoman cover?

  • Avatar

    That Mattina fish hook BWL is simply unbelievable.

    A you have to see it to believe it type of cover.

    The detail is uncanny. It feels so life like.

    I really feel like if I walked in a dark alley in some street this is what it would look like if BWL were there with his robins… astounding cover!

    Just unfair to everyone else!

    I’d like to see the haters say that that work of art was “copied” from someone!

  • Avatar

    Great writeup Skot! I missed out on Metal while it was going on and playing catch up right now. Like the masses, I was focusing on TT #12 and I wasn’t aware of the other books.

    Quick question…
    Where does the Foil cover Con variants (for Metal 3 & TT 12) fall in the mix? Are they worth putting my $ behind?

    • Skot Whitman

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      3rd printing or later on both the foil TT12 and Metal 3. For some reason, later printed exclusives are leaving off that important piece of information.

    • Skot Whitman

      Sorry, didn’t see the second part there. I’m not sure how to answer that… when I originally wrote this those two foils didn’t exist yet. I think the Metal 3 foil ended up damaging the long term value of the Metal 3 virgin. The TT12 foil seemed to have little to no impact on the value of TT12 cover A.

      • Avatar

        Thanks Skot! I appreciate the info. I did purchase a TT 12 Foil….but now thanks to your info, I know not to make that mistake again. 👍👍 And since the 2nd prints are currently less expensive (and their a lower print run), I’ll focus on those before going after the 1st print $$$

  • gideontged

    any idea what the 3rd print of Metal #2 run was from diamond?

  • Avatar

    Teen Titans 12 never going to be the big money book people want it to be?

    That makes ME laugh…..

  • Avatar

    The foil third print of the fishhook Robin really destroyed the momentum of the original and dragged the price to less than half it was going for.

    • Avatar

      Just another reason to write off store variants, when they actually make a good one they find a way to release it again and take it more dough.

      • Skot Whitman

        While I do agree the foil completely ruined the value for the Metal 3 virgin, I don’t know that a blanket boycott of store variant is the answer.

        Granted, yes, it does seem like if a store exclusive does well, they do find a way to ruin it with short sighted greed. On the other hand, had flipper/speculators not bought out all the Metal 3 virgins for the sole purpose of price gouging people who really wanted it, maybe things would have turned out different. Both the store that released the variants and the people buying more than a single set are equally responsible for the situation… not just with Metal 3, but all store exclusives worth buying.

        • Avatar

          As a side note or adjunct, last night I thought I’d look into BWL #1 after picking up the 1st print from my shop. Man, what a shit show. It seems like there are at least a dozen or more variants for that book, most with a virgin counterpart, and I think all but one being store variants. There really doesn’t seem like much investment potential for this book or any like it. With a character like Grim Knight looking promising, there really isn’t a way to invest in him as far as his first appearance goes. Am I off on this?

          • Avatar

            No, you’re not off…although I like the jock shop variant that is a grim knight cover. .if I’m going to invest in one its that one…waiting for a sale to pick it up, but not paying $20-$30.

          • Skot Whitman

            I don’t think you’re off on the investment potential for BWL #1. BWL #1 has noticeable increased interest in Metal books and that’s about it.

            I know this will sound like heresy, but it needs to be said. Not every #1 book that is released needs to be invested in. There’s this idea that the secondary market is entitled to make money on everything that comes out, it’s not. Once upon a time people read comics rather than investing in them for a quick flip and were happy with just reading them or collecting them. I only picked up a couple of different BwL #1’s, none of them were for investment purposes really, I picked them because I liked the cover. I have no illusion they won’t be worth much long term and I’m ok with that.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.