Now would be the time of the month when I go to the comic book store, pick up the newest issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ‘Batman’, and then come back to my computer to write a review about. Said review usually consists of me raving about Snyder’s creative storytelling, Capullo’s sadistic portrayal of the Joker, and how this ‘Death of the Family’ arc is one of the best Batman stories ever told. But as I got halfway through the book, I was thinking that this particular issue was somewhat of a lull in the story. Things weren’t hitting me like they did with the past issues. But then I got to the end, and all that changed. Silly me for doubting Mr. Snyder.
When we last left Batman in issue 15, he had tracked The Joker to Arkham Asylum where another confrontation was sure to be on the agenda. Little did the Dark Knight know that his greatest foe had something quite grand planned just for him. In the pages of this book, we see Batman travel through the levels of the institution to encounter a series of medieval obstacles fit for a noble warrior king, which is what the Clown Prince of Crime sees Batman as.
Initially, we get to see Batman do his usual schtick. He frees innocent pawns that the Joker is using in his plan, he beats down minions, and he dispatches second-rate villains with ease. But the real meat of this story begins to show itself right in the middle of the book with a regal splash page featuring our hero’s greatest “allies” and enemies. Just when it looks like Batman has won just as he always does, the Joker changes the game entirely.
Just as with every issue in this arc that came before it, the reader is left speechless by the events that unfolded on the last pages before the back-up story. The Joker has had an entire year to plan this scheme out and it seems that he’s thought of every possible scenario and prepared for the outcome. As shown in the back-story, he’s taken the necessary measures to ensure that things are going his way. Even Batman, who always has something to combat the Joker’s level of crazy, has no other choice but to succumb to the master plan that’s currently in action.
This new Joker seems to have absolute control of everyone around him. Not only does he break down the bat, but he cuts Two-Face down to size as well in this issue. It’s entirely a mystery as to how the Joker was able to come back this way, but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how everything ties together. I haven’t picked up any of the tie-ins for this event, but it appears that he has every member of the Bat Family, even including Alfred, right where he wants them, and that’s so unsettling… And I couldn’t love it more!
As a storyteller myself, as well as someone who’s ingested more than his fair share of stories in his life, I like to think that I can predict endings pretty well, or at least rationalize potential endings, but Scott Snyder truly has me stumped. He’s brought the villain so far past petty crimes and clever quips or puns about laughter that this new extremely cerebral and overly sadistic Joker has created a scenario where no one knows what could possibly know what’s next except for him. I’m absolutely enthralled by this story because just when you think you know what’s coming, something else completely different comes at you instead. This is like ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ of comics. I could keep talking about how much I love this story and the evolution of The Joker, but I’ll just end it right now by saying that I can’t wait for the final piece of the puzzle to be put into place and for the whole elaborate plan to be revealed next month in ‘Batman #17’.
Written by Scott Snyder
Backup Written by Scott Snyder & James T Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion
Backup Art by Jock & Dave Baron
Cover by Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia