Last month, we learned that the Joker is back, and that he had somehow Jokerized The Justice League. This issue continues Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Endgame” story with part two. If Capullo’s excellently creepy cover didn’t tip you off, Batman is fighting a Joker-crazed Superman, and it’s about as terrifying as you’d imagine.
I’m going to try to avoid spoilers as much as possible here, but it’s hard to talk about this comic without giving a little away, so fair warning. I don’t know what we, as a society, did to deserve 36-ish issues of Snyder and Capullo on Batman, but we are definitely hashtag blessed.
The fight with Supes happens within the first few pages; it is intense and disturbing with homages to The Dark Knight Returns thrown in, but not in an overtly obvious way. This fight is a twisted version of that classic battle, intense for the duration and clever in it’s execution. Batman at least has the advantage of Superman not being completely himself, and that, paired with his over-preparedness, are the only things that even give him a fighting chance. Superman even asks the age-old question, “Who would win in a fight?” Snyder provides the final answer in a caption box: neither.
I really like the gadgets that Snyder has dreamt up for Batman to use in his fight with Superman. They are very clever and original, so we at least get to see a new angle on what is becoming a trope in DC’s comics. Snyder is able to keep it fresh even though it’s something comic readers have seen many times before.
The second part of this issue is the lead up to the big reveal of the Joker, and I don’t think it’s a major spoiler to say that. The tone shifts from a desperate battle to a slow build as Batman takes a look around the now abandoned Arkham Asylum for clues to Joker’s methods. Capullo’s art really shines in this section; his heavy use of shadow and sparse panels create a sinister and suspenseful air for a pivotal point in the story.
There really isn’t much bad I can say about this issue, except maybe that I’m not a fan of the Joker’s new haircut. I could also say that I don’t think everything has to be a little wink-and-nod clue to who the Joker is, but these are minor gripes. Snyder’s run, in my opinion, has already inserted itself into the conversation with the greatest Batman stories of all time.
This book also contains a backup story by James Tynion IV that’s a continuation of a side story that takes place at the same time as “Endgame”. It follows a handful of escaped Arkham inmates as they each tell a Joker story to a doctor they’ve taken captive. This installment is sufficiently chilling.
Another excellent issue from top to bottom by Snyder that ends on such a shocking cliffhanger, even Sylvester Stallone will be on the edge of his seat.
CBH Score: 4.5 of 5.0
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