Comic Book Review: Batman #39
Batman #39: Endgame Part 5
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Placencia
March 10th, 2015
Well, here we are boys and girls, the penultimate issue of Endgame has released and an infected Gotham finds itself in the alabaster clutches of the Joker. With little recourse left and in desperate need of his arch-nemesis’ blood to manufacture a cure, Batman must take action – and quick!
As this chapter opens, we find Batman has sought out the council of the Court of Owls. This is not an unreasonable move. After all, the Court boasts an impressive longevity so, if anyone might know something about the Joker’s true origins, it would be them. While this exchange does not reveal much beyond Batman’s ability to abruptly end a conversation, it does provide brief a exchange between our hero and one of the original Talons. Even though this too is cut short, it did prompt me to consider the following: Could the Joker have been a Talon himself? Could his appearance, mental instability, regenerative powers, and newly discovered history be the result of early experimentation by the Court of Owls? It’s hard to say what Snyder and Capullo have planned for the finale, but even this brief appearance by these new (old?) villains is probably more significant than the issue let on.
In any case, with his visit to the Court of Owls having done little to further his cause, Batman seems to have hit a dead end. By contrast, the Joker’s plans progress quite nicely throughout the issue. In fact, in a bold move that further cements the fact that the Joker is entirely in control, he very casually breaks into the Batcave halfway through the story. The reason for this becomes clear as the Joker manages to steal iconic trophies that are later used to construct a caravan for a macabre parade (not unlike the one featured near the conclusion of Tim Burton’s original Batman movie). The entire affair culminates in an act of savagery that leaves the ever faithful Alfred Pennyworth the worse for wear.
As the issue draws to a close, a number of Batman’s allies come together in hopes of aiding him with whatever unlikely plan they suspect he has developed to thwart the Joker’s own machinations. It all leads up to what should be a really big moment, but ends up feeling more obligatory than it does revelatory(the enemy of my enemy is my friend, after all…). That minor gripe not withstanding, and also dismissing my own personal dislike of jumping between points in time so often, Snyder and Capullo have done a great job of setting all the pieces in place for a climactic showdown (kudos to Capullo’s depiction of the reverse Bat-signal).
Surprisingly, it appears as if John Tynion IV’s own side-story has come to an end in this issue. While it was suitably creepy and mysterious in its own right, I have to admit that I was really hoping for a bit more relevance to the main story arc. It was fine, satisfying even, but I feel like it proved to be completely unnecessary. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, the art was hideous. That’s all I have to say about that.
Finally, the closing act is upon us. And as we head to that end together, I think it’s important I share a bit about my own interest in the conclusion. Part of what has really kept me hooked on Endgame is all the personal guess work I’ve been doing concerning how the story will end. As a reader and fan of Batman comics this one thing, this investment in unraveling the mystery along side the Caped Crusader, is what makes Snyder and Capullo’s work on the title such a master class in developing a good Batman book. It’s been a little while since I’ve had so much fun with a “mainstream” property, but let me tell you that despite any belly aching you may hear from me; it has been just that – fun. Like the rest of you, I am beyond eager for the conclusion to this story. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I’m willing to be the destination honors the trip. Recommended.
All images and slider courtesy of DC Comics.