I've got a lot of comic reviewing to do, and all of it this week has to do with Death of the Family.
Well, let's get the big guns out of the way first.
Scott Snyder hits the mark yet again in this issue and it really pinpoints why the Joker is such a threat.
I think it was a bit of a misnomer to call this the most insane Joker yet. Joker isn't really going any more insane than he has in other major storylines. What's happening in this Snyder arc is that Joker is laying more of his cards on the table than he usually does.
He's trying to restore Batman to the glory of their original battles, and to do so, he's calling back many of their old encounters and trying to remove the walls of defense he's put up vis-a-vis the Bat-family members. It's all of these things hitting at once that makes him look more insane, but at the core, this is the Joker we've come to respect/fear.
I only really have one complaint in this issue. Yes, I understand that Bruce is supposed to be in denial about the fact that Joker may, in fact, know everything; but given the fact that he's been proven wrong extremely recently with the Court of Owls, shouldn't he be questioning more about his own detective work? The two stories do not seem to be building off each other properly, unless the point is that Batman is a brash, pigheaded moron.
The detective work in this book is at least solid, and I have to say that I am loving the buildup to this final showdown. Most importantly, though, I love the backup story.
Now while I may love the greatness that has been the main story, seeing the my favorite Batman rogue, the Riddler, used as well as he was in this really makes me excited for when I'll FINALLY get to see a Riddler arc.
The art from both Greg Capullo in the main story and Jock in the backup are strong, and I really can't complain much. There is so much subtlety (one panel in particular has drawn the criticism of other reviewers because it was too subtle) that it really requires a slow-down in reading to appreciate the work that went into it.
This is especially true with Joker's face, which causes me to cringe every time someone punches it because of how bizarrely it moves around. Truly a grotesque scene.
Overall, I think it's safe to say everyone who's a Batman fan needs to give this a look.
I'll say this, as an issue as a whole, I'd actually say this book outdoes Batman #15. (I know. Shocking!) That said, the previous mini-arc rears its ugly head and really hurts my enjoyment.
Let me get to that criticism first. In the lead-in story, Batman and Robin fought a zombie invasion that was tied (in a completely nonsensical fashion) to the Joker. In this story, the plan is explained, but it still just feels random.
Joker isn't a character who just does things to do them (even if he claims so). He's just as much a planner as Batman; he just aims for utter chaos and getting some point across to Batman. I don't feel like his scheme had any connection to the hoard of fear-driven cannibals. (Never thought I'd write anything resembling this past paragraph.)
Anyway, once you get past that point of idiocy, the book is actually quite enthralling. Robin goes out to find Joker and ends up in Mr. J's House of Horrors. He taunts Robin with an actual robin and bat in an utterly unsettling scene. This is made even more unsettling by the way Joker has contorted his face.
If the cannibals/zombies were practice for Patrick Gleason to be ready for Joker's face, then I will gladly take those last couple of stupid arcs. This was gruesome, terrifying, unsettling, disturbed, and I enjoyed every page of it.
The last panels in particular really get into the heart of a Batman-Robin relationship and lead to an interesting situation for Damian. I don't expect him to fail, but I want to know what he's up against and how he's getting out of it. (Also, side note, but Titus the dog is quickly becoming a favorite for this book.)
Had literally ANY other arc led into this, I would have said this was about a perfect book, but it does lose points. Not enough, though, that it shouldn't be purchased. Damian vs. Joker is a good match-up and one that I hope gets another play in the future.
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