For one moment, imagine you become the lead writer of Batman. I mean it’s a great gig, right? You’re writing one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time, and there are hundreds of stories that you can tell about him. I don’t remember any writer saying the words, “Batman… I mean what else is there to write about?”
But every day you write Batman, you have to deal with the elephant in the room. Whether you put him into the title or whether you go out of your way to keep him out of your title, he’s just sitting out there: The Joker.
At some point, you have to write a Joker story.
I mean you can have Superman without Lex Luthor, Catpain America without the Red Skull, X-Men without Magneto. But when you’re dealing with Batman, you have to write a Joker story. Plus, it had better be good, as the comic book fans have enough other issues to compare it to .
Scott Snyder went all out. For his Joker story, he is creating a crossover story that spans multiple books in the Bat-Universe. So this will be recognized. And with his current track record, he has definitely earned my anticipation.
As always, spoiilers below.
Batman #13: Knock Knock
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Release Date: 10/10/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)
In the previous year of Batman, he defeated the Court of Owls and stopped them from retaking Gotham City. Batman learned that Lincoln March believes himself to be his lost brother who was trained by the Court of Owls as a Talon. Additionally (in Detective Comics), The Joker had the skin of his face removed by The Dollmaker, which was left behind as he escaped from Arkham Asylum.
- The Joker returns to Gotham City infiltrating the GCPD killing several officers and retrieving his face before Batman can arrive.
- As Batman informs his allies of his return, The Joker interrupts the local news broadcast and threatens to kill the Mayor at Midnight.
- Batman and the GCPD protect the mayor, but instead of killing the mayor, all of the members of the police detail and the mayor’s staff are killed by turning their faces into frowns.
- Batman figures out the clues and goes to the ACE Chemical factory, where he first met The Joker, and Harley Quinn, dressed as The Red Hood, traps him.
- Joker pays a visit to Wayne Manor and starts to attack Alfred
Questions and Answers
Q: Why is The Joker visiting Wayne Manor?
Q: Where does The Joker know Alfred Pennyworth from?
A: The Joker and Batman first met at the Ace Chemical plant when The Joker was the Red Hood, as they did in the Post-Crisis DCU.
For me, comic books are less effective than movies or television for pulling on my emotions. I’m not sure why. Maybe the pencils and ink are able to give enough of a subtle clue to my brain that does not allow me to completely suspend my disbelief. (Either that or I’m an emotionless bastard)
However, Batman issue 13 was able to put more fear into my head than any comic book I can remember.
Scott Snyder did a masterful job of letting the events subtlely unfold. It played out with a wonderful sense of suspense that you usually only get in a movie theatre. Masterfully done by a writer who is on top of his game at the moment.
This may have been his best issue to date. He is able to place The Joker right at the proper place in Batman’s past and present world. He is able to keep us, as readers, waiting and dreading each turn of the comic book page. He is able to immediately explain The Joker’s motivation, and clue us in on the name of the story arc: Death of the Family
Plus, it’s not something that has been done before (at least to the best of my knowledge). The Joker sees that Batman has suffered at the hands of the Court of Owls, and so decides to kill all of Batman’s allies to make Batman as strong as he was before. The Joker does not want Batman to be weak, as he sees him as the ultimate adversary.
Even the use of old Joker memes fits in with the plan, as The Joker is revisiting his origins: using the television to announce his plans, threatening the Mayor, and having a showdown with Batman at the Ace Chemical plant. All of these we have seen in the movies, the comic books, and the animated series, but it plays perfectly here.
And anyone who has a chance, this is an excellent comic to read digitally, especially in guided view, where your eyes can’t accidentally skim ahead to a later image. The slow mood setting of the omens in Gotham City saying something bad is coming, and the teasing of the reveal of The Joker’s face. Especially, The Joker revealing that he knows the hiding places for Comissioner Gordon’s cigarettes in his own home. It all worked very masterfully.
Now, I know that there are plenty who dislike the guided digital format, but in this case it really worked well.
And the new visual of The Joker by Greg Capullo is really menascing. Yes it had been spoiled, but I didn’t really get the full picture of it until this issue. It is very powerful. And that is the one thing that I won’t spoil in this review.
I did have a few small issues with this book. First, the trope of “The Joker is back and more dangerous than ever.” is a little tired. I understand how you can’t go backwards, and have him return in a “slightly less homicidal than usual” story, but there was a little too much pushing of the idea of “The Joker, he’s different this time.” I’ve just seen it before, that’s all.
And secondly, in a single day, The Joker kills close to 20 police officers. With that sort of death rate, who in their right mind would sign up for that job, especially when the workers complain how bad it pays. Yes, I mean this slightly funny, and it is a comic book. But, there is some truth here. The Joker could have killed four police officers in the same amount of time, and it would have the same level of impact (or at least it should).
Finally, I felt that Batman was making a lot of jumps with his detective work. Yes, I know the detective analysis shouldn’t be the focus of the story, but it seemed like Snyder was taking a few shortcuts here.
Minor quibbles aside, I loved this comic book, and am actually slightly scared for the members of the Bat Family. (Except for Damien, I really don’t care if the twerp buys it)
Backup Story: Tease
Writer: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
- The Joker uses his influence over Harley Quinn to change her outfit, all the while suggesting to her that she should have her face cut off to match The Joker.
- The Joker was playing mind games on Harley, while he dressed her as him and put the Red Hood on her head, leading into her confrontation with Batman in the main story.
This is a very fun short story in the back of this issue that really explains the current relationship between Harley and The Joker. How devoted she is to him, and how little he cares for her. In this instance, he does not even bother to keep up the pretense of affection, and is very cruel to Harley. I don’t think it is that much worse than it was before, but the scene below was really chilling in a way.
Anyway, an excellent side dish for a delicious main course.
This comic did everything I wanted it to do, and more. It actually makes me fear for the Bat Family, even though I think any permanent damage is not likely. You feel the impact of The Joker like you do the best horror movie villains or serial killers in suspense movies. Snyder does a thuroughly excellent job and the art is tremendous.
Overall Grade: 9.5 (Excellent opening, and set the table perfectly for the tie-ins)
Series Grade: A
Tags: Batman, DC Comics, Death of the Family, Greg Capullo, New 52 (DC Comics), Reviews, Scott Snyder