Comic Book Review: Batman #40
Batman #40: Endgame Part 6
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Placencia
May 5th, 2015
I did not love it.
Perhaps my disappointment is the result of too much speculation. In the months that I spent eating up the brilliantly written Endgame arc, my mind swirled with limitless possibilities. Scott Snyder had done so much to build up to this moment; he had taken such care to draw from the lore he established that I could not help but expect a moment of sublime inspiration somewhere within this delayed coda. Alas, to my mind, that moment never came.
To begin with, it was a pretty big let down to see Snyder squander the team-up he so hastily put together in last issue’s cliffhanger. Although I criticized the move as being a bit contrived in my previous review, I had hoped something more meaningful would have been done with the rogue’s gallery now that they had been assembled. Instead, they are reduced to little more than set-pieces (we do get to see Batman and Bane do a wicked Wolverine and Colossus impression though). Overall, these opening scenes displayed the weakest expression of narrative I’ve seen from Snyder on the title.
The story does, however, improve in the second half of the book. I attribute this to a refocus on the main event – the conflict between Batman and the Joker. Even then, the conversation between these rivals is not a particularly strong one. Much of what transpires between the two becomes derivative of other takes on the relationship. No new ground is tread here, but Snyder does take care to cement his version of the Joker as being a cruel and sadistic villain. He is aided in this by Greg Capullo’s intense depiction of the fight between the two giants. I believe this is one of the few times that the artwork far exceeded the scope of the story. The sheer brutality on display here, which could have been a true mess in the hands of a lesser artist, really captures the gravity of this final show down. As a reader, I felt the heft of blows and slashes burdened by years of confrontation. These warriors spoke with their fists in a manner that words could not do justice. It was majestic in its own way.
I was very much on board with the role reversal that took place in the final pages of the story. While the majority of Endgame took care to remind us that we were following the exploits of a Batman who did not know his city as well as he should (one of the themes Snyder seemed to be keen on emphasizing), on a Batman who was afraid and mortal, the conclusion gave us a hero who become an object of fear for the Joker once again. At the height of his mystique, at his most gruesome, we’re reminded that the he is just a man. This is great vindication for what are, ostensibly, the last few moments of our beloved caped crusader’s life.
I am also of the opinion that the closing moments of this story were a bit heavy-handed. Granted, we are treated to Alfred Pennyworth’s interpretation of the events (which may hopefully excuse the drama of it all), but it felt like nonsense. This was not my Batman on display. Still, I don’t want it to seem like I am taking unfair shots at this story. Endgame has been a fascinating trip and my own misgivings about the conclusion should in no way be interpreted as derisive of the author or his body of work. I feel that Scott Snyder’s run on Batman has been nothing short of brilliant.
In the end, perhaps this is just Scott Snyder giving us a meta moment. Maybe what he has presented us with is a conclusion so brilliant that he would suffer being maligned by myopic scribes like me in order to give us his version of The Mousetrap. He has said to us: “You thought me eternal and infallible, but I too am mortal.”
All images and slider courtesy of DC Comics.