Batman has seen better days, especially when it comes to being at the mercy of Joker’s plans. In fact, this latest story arc taking place in DC Comics may as well be considered one of the most disturbing and twisted stories Batman has gone through yet. Writer Scott Snyder has been impressive, either with complete surprises or interesting rebirths, and if this latest issue is any indication we’re clearly getting both, but is it good?
Batman #16 (DC Comics)
If you haven’t been following along, Joker has come back to Gotham. He’s recently taken over Arkham Asylum, killed an incredible amount of cops in the GCPD and has told Batman a few times now that his Bat family is making him soft. Clearly Joker wants Bats to himself and has even proven to be seriously infatuated with Batman due to some eye psychology notes in the last issue. Keeping all this in mind, Batman enters Arkham right through the front door without much of a plan. Is that such a good idea when the master of planning is primed and ready to make Batman’s life a living hell?
The book opens with a disturbing bit of torture.
As I was reading this issue I couldn’t help but think of the movie Saw, mostly due to Joker’s plotting and planning but also because said planning incorporates the grotesque. This new Joker is much more disturbing and hellbent on fabricating a plan that showcases a more disgusting demeanor. There hasn’t been much of an explanation for his change, although it may have something to do with his rotting face/mask he’s been wearing. It’s an interesting interpretation of the villain and it makes one wonder if Batman will be able to not kill the bastard. At least before this story he was nutty and semi-harmless. From what occurs in this issue you’ll wonder if Joker had a visit to Hell itself to have been changed so dramatically.
Performance art or insanity? You be the judge.
That’s right…Bats punches a horse in the face!
This is the penultimate issue and here’s to hoping the concluding chapter can come close to topping what goes on in this issue. It’s going to be tough. Fans are in for a treat this issue and I’m talking fans from all walks of Batman fandom. From those who love the detective stuff, the gadgets or straight up fighting, there’s something for everyone in this issue. Hell, Batman fights three of his rogues before he even reaches Joker! It’s like some kind of awesome video game level right before the final boss.
How many times does he have to say this?
Oh no, the horsey!
That’s not to say this is a comic for everyone and by that I mean children should probably steer clear of this issue. I’m actually a little surprised just how gross this issue gets and anyone with little ones might want to avert their eyes or at the very least read the comic with them. There are hanging dead bodies, rotting flesh, and a tapestry made of dead bodies.
What fine tapestry work!
I’m not sure how the Eisner Awards work, but if it requires the publisher to submit one issue I elect this issue for the exquisite art by Greg Capullo. He’s really outdone himself here and thankfully he isn’t stifled by too much dialogue or exposition. Instead the composition has time to breathe and the work can look good and tell a story. There’s a few panels that are straight up symbolic which adds to the story beyond the usual action or placement of characters.
Eww. His face is rotting.
Final Score: 9.5
- Intense and dramatic art
- Incredibly climactic chapter
- Joker’s reiteration of the Bat family weakening Batman is getting a bit redundant
And I haven’t even touched on the backup drawn by Jock. Once again his backup showcases a relationship between Joker and another rogues villain, this time Two-Face (last issue we got The Riddler). I’m liking DC Comics’ pricing model that gives the reader a backup in every $3.99 comic. It’s especially nice when the backup extends the story as it does here. It’s a change of pace from the main book, but it also isn’t a wasted tack-on story to pad out the pages.
Is It Good?
Yes. I’ve found this story arc to be up and down, especially in the pacing department. This issue however blew me away in all facets. Great comic book.