The latest story arc in DC Comics’ Batman has ended and it seemed to serve as almost a sequel to the previous Joker story arc ‘Death of the Family’, also written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo. The premise is that the Joker has returned to Gotham after he was defeated in the ‘DOTF’ story. It seems he’s been masquerading as an employee of Arkham Asylum for months and has been watching and waiting to strike. He begins his attack by creating some kind of Joker infection and infects members of the JLA and set them against Batman. Things go from bad to worse as the Joker reveals himself, much to Batman’s shock, and proceeds to unleash his virus upon Gotham as a whole, plunging the city into complete chaos. It’s a race against time for Batman and his allies to find a cure and save the city.
Okay. On the whole, it was an all right story. A Joker story is always worth a read. There was quite a bit of technical jargon that really didn’t add anything to the story, but I guess the writer had to make sure we all knew how smart he was. Mission accomplished. The story was well paced and it did manage to have me hanging on for the next chapter. The art, as usual, was incredible. Mr. Capullo was a revelation during his years on Spawn and time has only sharpened his skills. No one can do jagged teeth like Greg.
There were issues however, and at this point I warn of spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read the complete story, along with the back up stories in the first five books, be warned. That said; let us continue.
I can only say that I HATE what Snyder did to the Joker. To attempt to re-create him as some supernatural, immortal being is without a doubt the worst idea ever. The Joker is a homicidal maniac. Simple as that. That is the beauty of the character. No powers. No supernatural elements. Just a twisted mind with way too much creativity. That has always been the Joker’s strength, much like Batman’s strength has been that he also has no powers. Just a man who has pushed himself to extraordinary levels of excellence. I grew to miss the Joker of the pre-52 era. It interested me to see what he would do knowing he was just a man, which made his crimes all the more heinous.
I am also mixed on the ending of the story. I understand that Snyder is setting up the next story arc, but I feel the whole Batman’s missing thing has been done to death. Did he really kill Batman? Is this going to be the most risky gamble in the history of DC Comics? I don’t know. It seems almost every writer has had his ‘faux-Batman’ story and the list of characters who have worn the cowl in Bruce’s stead has been growing rather long over the years. I fear that this is just an attempt to make a bold, controversial change simply for the sake of change and making some claim on the character.
On the whole, I liked the story, but truly pray that there is something up the road that can repair the original status of the Joker, because if what they’ve set forth sticks, I don’t think he’s going to be as interesting anymore. But all that is a discussion for another time. Until then, go ahead and pick up the issues, or wait for the paperback collection. The hardcovers are way too expensive.