Second Thoughts Review: Batman #13 By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Batman 13

Published by DC Comics

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Greg Capullo

The Plot

The story begins with a conversation about strange events happening in Gotham between Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock.  It seems as though it is all a typical night in Gotham City; however, the Joker appears in the doorway wanting to reclaim a piece of his property (hint:  it rhymes with mace, but starts with an ‘f’).  Just as Gordon recognizes him, the power goes out and the Joker makes quick work of the GCPD while tormenting Gordon.  Batman arrives on the scene and a visibly shaken Gordon relays what was told to him.  In the Batcave, a solemn Alfred and Batman discuss the Joker while Damian makes light of his return.  Batman receives calls from his allies, but he denies that he requires any help.  The Joker then reveals on live television that the mayor will die at the stroke of midnight.  After the GCPD and Batman lock down the mayor’s office, they are duped by the Joker who takes advantage of the opportunity to communicate with him.  Batman races to find him in a familiar location.  After a brief encounter with “the Joker,” he is trapped.  At the same time, the real Joker shows up at Wayne Manor where he sees his target…Alfred.

The back-up story deals with the Joker working with Harley Quinn on a plan to trap Batman.  This story takes place during the events of the lead story.  The focus of this story is on the psyche of the Joker and how his interactions are now different.

The Breakdown

First of all, after so many Joker stories and appearances, it’s difficult to imagine getting psyched to read another Joker story.  However, this past year of seeing Batman getting knocked out of the park made me give the creative team the benefit of the doubt.  They did not disappoint.  Having a long layoff really helped to build the Joker’s mystique within Gotham.  It is revealed that he’s been gone for a year (in comic time, which actually coincides with real time) and people were terrified to see him return.  The scene where the Joker is standing with his face obscured in the GCPD doorway was eerie as was Gordon’s reaction to him.  Snyder takes time to set the tone with people reacting to the Joker’s reappearance with no one taking it lightly, except for Damian.  This made me anxious for the first Damian/Joker encounter.  We’ve waited a long time to find out what happened after the Joker allowed himself to be maimed by the Dollmaker and I, for one, am glad.  No disrespect to Tony S. Daniel who wrote the story in Batman Detective Comics 1, but I feel that we’ll get a better payoff in this title.  The Joker now has a different tone and even his clues show that change.  Like I said, there is a lot of build-up in this issue, but it is entertaining to read nonetheless.  He’s planning an all-out assault on the Bat-family and with the better part of a year planning for it, he’s most likely a few steps ahead of them already.  It’s also entertaining to see how the Joker and Batman communicate with one another (the Joker adding Chlorine, Ethane, and Aspirin to his compound).  Even Harley Quinn almost seems to be victimized herself by the Joker’s brutal new attitude.  Capullo’s art continues to be solid and at this time, I couldn’t imagine anyone else I’d want to be drawing this title right now.  As much as I groaned when I first learned he’d be on art duties prior to issue 1 (I didn’t remember his Spawn work with a lot of fondness), he has made me eat my words.  Capullo and Snyder obviously have a great line of communication and it shows with how cohesive this book has become.

BUT…

Mayor Hady annoyed me.  His laid back and disrespectful attitude towards the situation was…annoying.  Capullo’s Joker (the image in the Batcave) didn’t resemble the Nightwing/Joker from the first issue.  Also, I didn’t mind Sal Cipriano’s work in the back-up story at all, but I was secretly hoping that Becky Cloonan would do the story since she filled in for issue twelve.  I didn’t think it was likely, but I hoped for it.  However, Cipriano’s work did match the tone of the story nicely.

Buy it, Borrow it, Shelf-read it, or Ignore it?

BUY IT.  No question about that here.  This book is dominant for DC because the team has a method and they stick to it.  One way to tell if writing is successful is getting readers to anticipate what comes next.  Back in Justice League 1, some people complained that they wanted to see the team together in action.  We’ve all seen them in action plenty of times before that.  In Batman 13, I anticipated seeing the Joker’s face for the entire issue.  That’s good writing, when you’ve seen something countless times before yet you’re anticipating it again anyways.  Also, the fold-out cover was just flat out cool to look at…even if it was a bit of nuisance while flipping through the rest of the book.  Yes, there is a bit of a slow burn, but it doesn’t reek of decompressed storytelling by any means.

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