Batman has had a pretty rough time lately. Towards the end of last year, he had to fight the Court of Owls, a war against an international organization called Leviathan, and wouldn’t you know it, now the Joker’s back in town!
Not only has his archenemy returned, but he seems to have returned with a renewed focus and a greater plan. To prove this, he arranged for his own face to be removed to signify his rebirth. Joker has come to believe that the conflict between Batman and himself has become too stale and watered-down, and they’re not as sharp or as dangerous as they once were. So he’s focused on cutting out all the things that are holding them back, including the Bat-family and even Harley Quinn. But killing them just isn’t enough either. No, he has to completely break them down.
Does It Work?
Without sounding too much like a braggart or a know-it-all, I pretty much expected this story to be excellent, and I was right. Snyder’s work thus far with Batman, from The Black Mirror up until now, has proved that he deserves to be in the short list comprised of only the best Batman creators. He has an excellent sense of who Batman is, both his strengths and weaknesses, and he’s not afraid to give Batman a real personality. Snyder’s version of the Caped Crusader feels very human, and is capable of actually having emotions and even making a few decent jokes! He’s not just the stone-cold Dark Knight that others too often paint him as. Snyder has this same sense of character throughout Batman’s whole supporting cast, including his allies and his great enemies. This depiction of the Joker is nothing short of terrifying, with both the massive reveal halfway through the story, and the lead-up to the climax.
The conflict between Batman and Joker has been one that’s been explored for decades by all kinds of different creators. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, Alan Moore, Jim Starlin, Frank Miller, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and even Kevin Smith have all weighed in on those two characters and the classic antagonism between them. After seventy-plus years of stories and continuity, you’d think that everything that could be said on the subject has already been said, but Snyder finds some new life to their dynamic. In fact, I would have to agree with some of the other fans out there that this is the best Joker story since Moore’s The Killing Joke. I’m sure in a few years this will be an essential part of the Batman mythos, no less than the other iconic stories.
Yes, there are some people who dislike the ending, but I don’t particularly see the problem with it. It fits the Joker’s character. As far as I’m concerned, it delivers.
I don’t actually follow the single issues when they come out, because I prefer to read the trade paperbacks as a whole. This was an event that I couldn’t afford to do so. That being said, I do want to see how they compile the whole event together. I hope when they collect it as either hardback or paperback, they include all the tie-ins. Those books deserve to be read as part of the main event.
You may feel weary of the hype-machine, but ignore it in this case. In my humble opinion, it is that good.
I’m Jesse Blume…and this storyline is Most Heroic.
Next week on Most Heroic, we will discuss the single greatest villain that the comic book industry ever faced.