BATMAN #37 Review & Spoilers
“Endgame: pt. 3” (22 pages)
Story by: Scott Snyder
Pencils by: Greg Capullo
Inks by: Danny Miki
Colors by: FCO Plascencia
Letters by: Dezi Sienty & Taylor Esposito
Covers by: Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson; Darwyn Cooke
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
As soon as I turned the cover and looked at the first page, chills ran down my spine!! It’s just a tad disconcerting to see a fixated gaze highlighted in white surrounded by pitch black. Bruce is trying to break out of a drug-induced trance courtesy of the new-and-improved Jolly Gentleman. Bruce is convincing himself (and emphasizing to us fans and readers) that he really is the biggest and best of all the super-heroes.
Joker’s cocktail has to be more potent and lethal than something like the Cassandra virus cooked up by Scarecrow. I love how Scott Snyder calls this new one-two punch a ‘twilight anesthetic’. While Bruce was out, the damage was done. The newest strain of the Joker Virus has hit Gotham and so far all is lost. I’m very impressed with Bruce’s (Scott’s) scientific acumen in breaking down the composition of a laugh: a series of diaphragmatic spasms. Way to take the fun out. Get it?!? At any rate, this is the mother (and father) of all viruses as it keeps evolving and nothing seems to curb it. Alfred astonishingly admits that Joker has gone above and beyond by creating a true masterpiece. Bruce doesn’t settle for that, obviously.
Bruce is going straight to the source. Every virus requires a carrier. The point of origin is Gotham Presbyterian Hospital. Like clockwork, Bats checks in with the Commish. Jim has been burning many cigarettes in anticipation of what’s happening. If things don’t let up soon, the city will be quarantined and isolated by walls à la medieval style. Batman assures Jim that everything will work out. Jim may be an old pro and a seasoned officer but even he’s unhinged. Who can blame him?? The crazies are out in full force. He’s all boarded up with his finger on the trigger of a tranq gun. He looks legitimately fearful as he pries through the blinds. Only hate remains with this virus and he seems to have been traumatized by his former friend Bullock attacking him, presumably.
Jim seems to be taking the role of Oracle here. He gives Batman a rundown on the hospital located at the (epi)center of the city. It’s (1) Wayne-funded, (2) rife with past tragedies, (3) apparently haunted, and (4) accident-prone. Batman crashes in ready for action attempting to ward off the psychos. Jim reads up more on Gotham Pres. He isn’t very consoled with the back history, especially with the presence of the Devil being purported.
Things take a real hair-raising sinister turn the next few pages. As Jim continues to look at older photos circa 1910, the Joker is there grinning in the background. He shows up again in a 1946 pic. The third photo has me bewildered and bothered simultaneously. As Jim eyes in on a picture of a mother with a newborn, the foucs is on an albino arm through an ajar door just as a creaking sound is made. I was so engrossed in that scene that I actually ‘heard’ the noise. I actually jumped from my seat when the boxing glove came out of the closest to hit Jim square in the face. Goosebumps formed on my arms and my eyes widened as well as a familiar silhouette delivers the oldest joke there is.
Bruce does not have his head in the game no matter what he tells himself. You know a villain is supreme when he can get under your skin, rewire your brain, and just cut you to the core. Even though the scene isn’t real, Batman sees the Jokerized face of Joe Chill, his parents’ killer. Batman makes the worst realization: Joker knows/remembers that Bruce and Batman are one and the same. Even more eerie is a parallel of Batman’s origin. Replace a young Bruce with Duke Thomas. The outcome turns out to be exact.
Snyder and Capullo ingeniously alternate the dual scenes. I like the reversal of situation here. Commissioner Gordon is the ‘lucky’ one to have face time with the Clown Prince of Crime whereas Batman deals with the dirty work plowing through a bunch of ‘lackeys’. Gordon is clearly outmatched but he managed to hold his own. It would’ve been more dramatic if Bats were incapable of escaping the hospital and not succeeding in the rescue. There are three full page dedications followed by two half-page showcases, another full page, then one page with two-thirds over one-third, only to have it end on the Bat and the most gut-wrenching cliffhanger. EEK!!
There’s no other way I can describe this issue than to simply say that it’s utterly creepy. It’s a fear-fraught issue that expertly exposes the Joker as public enemy number one.
NOTE: There is an 8-page back-up feature which also continues different POVs of the Joker. This by no means is a dis-service to the creative minds here, but the lesser said about this, the better.
- Just how did the Joker doctor his image into those old photos? Was he really there? Is he immortal? Is he the Devil incarnate?
- Joe Chill is deader than dead, right??
- If that boy is Duke Thomas, then the chronology is definitely out of synch. Even if it isn’t, Bruce obviously transferred his fears and replayed his origin by superimposing it on to this child.
- Even before the re-launch, Joker figured out Batman’s secret ID. During “Death of the Family” it was never stated but heavily implied. Here it seems that his mind isn’t a big pile of mush after all.
Scott Snyder delivers another solid script. The man should have an honorary degree in Psychology (if he doesn’t already) because he really knows what makes these characters tick. We’re only halfway through this arc. I can’t wait to see how Joker will continuously one-up his prime target of affection/admiration. He brings out the motif of Bruce motivating himself to pull through the situation and stop what the Joker has set in motion.
Greg Capullo does dark and disturbing magnificently. Even though I never examined his work on SPAWN, he’s on point. At times, the Bat mask looks a bit exaggerated and cartoony especially in elongated form. Nevertheless, Joker’s new face befits him perfectly as shown on page 15, panel 2. The same goes for Joe Chill on page 13, panel 5.
Danny Miki is no stranger to the Bat-universe. He keeps up with the frenetic pace. All the minutiae deserve a lot more praise than the bigger points of reference.
FCO Plascencia is one name that has me scratching my head. One of the coolest monikers out there!! The man dabbles in a lot of black but contrasts that nicely with the white and other hues of the colour spectrum. I especially liked the blue bat-pack on the cape as Bruce glides to Gotham Pres.
Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito cram lots of info into an action-packed issue. Aside from the onomatopoeia, they get gold stars for the newspaper headlines and ‘biohazard’ label.
“Endgame” is most definitely living up to its name!! Each part is a swift succession of the previous and the climb to madness isn’t halting! What more can Batman go through? How much more can he take? How will Gotham rise out of this one? Stay tuned, Bat-lovers!
I give this book a “Very Afraid” on the fear scale (9/10). On the flipside, I give it between “Very Funny” and “Mockingly Funny” on the laugh-o-meter (9.5/10).
Tags: Batman, Joker, New 52 (DC Comics)