REVIEW: Batman #14

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The Clown Prince of Crime is back in action in a major way. After he took out nearly a police station worth of cops, he set his sites on Alfred Pennyworth. With Pennyworth’s kidnapping, Batman attempts to stay three steps ahead of the Joker’s plans, but will it be at the risk of the Bat Family? More after the jump!

BATMAN #14
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Batman: The Joker single-handedly walked through a police station in a black out and broke the necks of at least nineteen officers. It was scary. ‘Nuff said.

A TWISTED LOVE AFFAIR

Alfred Pennyworth has been kidnapped and Commissioner James Gordon has had a failed assassination attempt on his life. Batman is barely able to keep Nightwing from going and telling the rest of their allies. In one of his creepier monologues, the Joker voices some ‘concerns’ he has regarding the Batman: he’s afraid that Bats is loosing himself and he has solutions on how to fix it.

One thing that I have always adored about Batman and Joker’s relationship was that it’s a sort of twisted love affair. The Joker has always been rather flirty with Batman, so to speak, but here it’s much more obvious. He refers to him several times as ‘darling’, ‘my king’, ‘dear’ and kept referring to Batman in direct relation to himself, using ‘us’ whenever he gets the chance. The Joker wants the old Bats back, not this one tied down by family, friends and allies. Batman has become soft in his eyes and that upsets him. He’s attached to Bats, even if it’s a psychotic relationship based on violence and destruction. While the feeling probably isn’t mutual on Batman’s part, Joker’s monologue to the object of his affection is tense and palpable.

Snyder manages to explore this dynamic between the two. Snyder has engineered the Joker in such a way that you can almost hear him talk. He’s very vivid and alive now, with a writer unafraid to explore his lunacy and the relationship between the Batman, the Joker and the Bat Family.

What’s even more poignant is that Batman is afraid for his family. While he’s most likely afraid much of the time, there’s a scene between Batman and Jim Gordon that really drives it home: Batman pulls on a gun on Gordon. It’s very simple, only about three small panels. For fans of Batman who know how he feels about firearms, this drives home a powerful message as to just how scared he is for his family. He’s willing to break his own taboos in order to protect those he loves.

THAT’S GONNA GET INFECTED…

So far, the art by Capullo has been top notch. I’ve really enjoyed Capullo’s run during this series. He’s very careful to find the perfect balance between art that looks dirty or over embellished and art that looks cartoonish. He’s found a happy medium. Plascencia’s coloring is also perfect. Everything is muted in tone. Even the Joker’s features, which are normally very bright given his color scheme, are muted and dulled, much to the credit of the colorist.

The only thing that’s distracting about the Joker now, and has been distracting for a while, is the Hannibal Lector face mask. Before, the Joker was discolored, but generally human looking. What was terrifying about him was his mind and his personality, not necessarily his appearance though it did have the potential to be frightening. The Joker was scary because of his spontaneity, the inability to accurately plot his moves, his viciousness and his dedication to chaos. He didn’t need to be particularly terrifying in appearance because he could be terrifying with his presence.

Now, however, he’s become another Saw-type serial killer with a disfigured face. It’s too typical and a bit disappointing. Ever since he’s come back in the picture with his stapled on visage, I can’t help but think to myself that he’s going to need a lot of Neosporin in order to prevent infection. Yes, yes, I know he’s immune to stuff like that, but still. It’s in the back of my mind and it’s generally all I can think about when I see him now on the page.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY FOR THE STORY, IF NOTHING ELSE

Snyder’s writing with Capullo’s art make for a winning series and this issue is another fantastic addition. They’re not afraid to delve deep into the heart of Batman and Joker’s relationship. Snyder breathes life into the Joker, making his dialogue come alive on the page. Though the new facelift Joker has is distracting, it’s not enough to dock points from this book. Pick it up for the story and characterization, if for no other reason.

Rating: ★★★★½

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