The finale is here and it’s all about Batman versus Joker. Really, could we ask for anything better than this? How about Batman’s villains gallery showing up to help him take out Joker? Yeah, that’s even better, but is it good?
Batman #40 (DC Comics)
This is the last issue in the story arc and if you’re just joining this series to see the final combat between Bats and Joker you probably don’t care what happened before. All you really need to know is Joker has taken over the city with a new toxin, Batman has recruited all his big time villains to help take back Gotham and Joker has been alive for centuries. That’s right, some kind of retcon of the character took place when Batman found old pictures of Joker creating mayhem in Gotham since the pilgrims arrived on their boats. Wild.
Batman and villain team up! Rad!
This issue opens where we left off with Batman and company fighting through mobs of civilians to get at Joker. Batman needs to pull fluid from Joker’s spine in order to make an antidote to cure all these crazed civilians. I think it’s safe to say Scott Snyder likes to mess with the audience, delivering information from characters we should never trust, ultimately to throw a curveball in the final act. Bruce having a brother in the Court of Owls springs to mind here as that ended with a quick “oops he wasn’t really his brother” ending. In a sense it’s a great way to tell a larger story that’s symbolic in nature but at no cost of continuity or fan outrage.
I say all this because Snyder does it again here. I’m not spoiling a thing for you here, but it is a bit upsetting when you’ve been lead to believe something that’s quickly erased. Snyder does however use it to convey some bigger elements that make the whole Joker vs Batman story larger than life. As Batman rushes to cure Gotham we are given some interesting concepts, like how Joker has a cave of his own only it’s darker and deeper than Batman’s ever was. As Batman and Joker beat the bloody hell out of each other we are reminded they both are living in a physical world and violence of this level can only be reached when everything is on the line.
Why Snyder decided for them to get so bloody and broken is beyond me. I suppose to up the ante and tell a story that’s never gone so far before. It works to a point, but becomes a bit too much, especially when you consider Batman has never taken such a beating before. The fact that they both end up essentially equal is another message heard loud and clear from Snyder: even physically, they are perfectly matched.
I wasn’t a fan of how this story ended, in a poetic sendoff with a promise that it is the end. I suppose it’s nice to see an ending to a character in that we get to see a writer’s take on it, but since it is in continuity we all know it’s a lie. An elseworlds telling would have at least been a period instead of an ellipsis.
Greg Capullo continues to rock the art hard. There are some truly epic panels here and you can tell he’s having the time of his life drawing them. Is there a greater hero vs villain scenario than Joker vs Batman? The fight sequence in particular is incredibly well done and choreographed. If there ever was a Joker vs Batman fight sequence to remember this is it. It’ll go down as the most iconic that is for sure simply due to how brutal it gets.
This looks like it hurts.
Is It Good?
The endgame is here and it certainly is an end to Joker’s game. You may not be entirely satisfied with its final pages, but when it comes to Joker vs Batman this may be the most heavy-hitting, memorable finish yet.
Want to read Snyder’s entire “Endgame” saga? Pick up The Joker: Endgame, which collects BATMAN #35-40 and more.