The big finale of Endgame has arrived this week with Batman #40. Will the Joker’s Endgame virus destroy the city? Who will live, who will die? Is the Joker immortal? Is it all just a big dream? Read the review and find out!
Previously in Batman: Joker has released his Endgame virus, turning the citizens of Gotham into laughing, raving lunatics. Having discovered that Joker holds the cure in his body, Batman recruits the help of allies and enemies alike. But is Joker really immortal or is it something else entirely?
THE LAST JOKER STORY EVER?
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have made the main Batman title arguably the best it has been in years. Each story arc gets better and bigger every time. Endgame has made Joker push Batman to the limit as much as possible. As with the “Death of the Family” arc, Snyder writes Joker as insane, creepy and evil as ever. It’s a mesmerizing interaction between him and Batman and I was convinced that this could push Batman over the edge. Snyder has woven a mystery around Joker, making him seem immortal and apparently popping up throughout time. This has made some readers angry and I was a little unsure about it myself but fortunately, it’s not true. Joker found a pool of Dionesium after Batman dropped him off a cliff which is what healed his face and bones. It’s a good explanation for how Joker has healed himself and I’m glad Snyder chose not to make him an immortal figure but how evidence was faked is never addressed, which was disappointing. When Batman and Joker have their big showdown it’s brutal and bloody. Both end up in horrible shape, and Joker’s back is broken by a falling rock. The cave collapses on top of the two and two weeks go by without either being seen. Some of the writing falls on too much convenience and Batman’s always perfect technology and planning. Batman manages to synthesize a cure quite quickly after finding the Dionesium and also creates an “immune-response blocker” from the sample to halt Joker’s healing powers. Considering we never see any of this happen, plus it’s in the middle a brawl, it reads a bit silly, but comics do need some suspension of disbelief I suppose.
Even though it’s implied Batman and Joker are dead, anyone who read Futures End knows that’s not the case. I’m not sure whether Snyder intended this to be the last Joker story ever and if he did it’s a shame DC editorial interfered by putting him in Futures End. This would be a brilliant ending to the Joker and I’d be ecstatic if it was the end of his tale. Not only would he lose his life, it wouldn’t be by Batman’s hand. Snyder writes a Joker that seems to love Batman in his own sick way and when Batman toys with that emotion to stall Joker so the cave destroys the Dionesium pit it’s a great moment. Joker is crushed both physically and emotionally. It would be great if DC decided to not publish Joker stories and leave him dead, at least for a good long time. This is the kind of send off he deserves and I loved the ending.
GREAT SUBTLE DETAILS
Capullo’s work continues to evolve in amazing ways that make the storytelling every issue more enjoyable. This issue has tons of subtle details, some I didn’t notice upon first read. As Joker and Batman fight, Joker whips around, slicing Batman with knives and eventually stabbing both of them in his back. The next panel reveals a smile cut into him with the knife handles as eyes. Perhaps the most brilliant touch is the overhead shot of the two lying bleeding on the cave floor. The blood pooling around them forms a heart shape. It’s a perfect image to go along with the kind of relationship Snyder has been writing between Joker and Batman. As always, Greg Capullo chooses great cinematic angles which adds to the epic nature of the story. The panel of Joker tossing playing cards towards the reader looks just like what Batman is seeing and all the angles are spot on. There’s nothing I can complain about on the visual side of the issue and it’s a treat to look at, even with all the blood and bruises.
BOTTOM LINE: LAST ISSUE EVER?
If Batman #40 was the last Batman issue ever, I think I would be OK with it. There is a great sense of finality to it, especially in Joker’s case. While we know he returns, thanks to Futures End, I would love for it to be the final story of Batman vs. Joker. Batman gains the upper hand a little too easily but the brawl between the two enemies is brutal and the best I’ve seen. Snyder and Capullo continue to write wonderful Batman stories while trying new ideas. I’m interested to see where they take the robotic Batman working with the police and even though I think it’s a bizarre idea, I’ll give it a shot. The team has yet to let me down.
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