Comic Review – Batman #38

Batman #38 CoverWriters: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV
Pencils: Greg Capullo, Sam Keith
Inks: Danny Miki, Sam Keith
Colors: FCO Plascencia, Ronda Pattison
Letters: Steve Wands, Jared K. Fletcher, Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 1/28/15


Endgame continues to heat up as Joker’s toxin spreads throughout Gotham! In what’s been one of the scariest Joker tales in a while, Joker’s putting Batman through the ringer by turning all of Gotham into gibbering loons. In the backup story, the Arkham escapees continue swapping Joker tales in a bizarre Canterbury Tales like story swap. Let’s take a look at the latest Batman shall we?

Continuing from the last issue’s cliffhanger, Batman and Duke (the now slightly older kid from “Zero Year” whom Batman rescued last issue) make their way to Jim Gordon’s apartment to save his life, only to be attacked by the maddened Commissioner. Thanks to some timely assistance from Julia Pennyworth, Batman goes in search of some answers as the Jokerized Gotham City begins to burn around him. Snyder brings in underused Bat villain Crazy Quilt, with a new backstory, to deliver some interesting exposition.

One of the more likely controversial elements in this issue is that Snyder seemingly gives Joker an origin that must be read to be believed. One might consider that giving Joker an origin, especially one with some pretty status quo changing revelations, is heresy.  Especially given that Joker himself has said he prefers “multiple choice” for how he came to be. On the other hand, it could just be another one of the Joker’s tricks. However, the potential origin does have potential, and interesting consequences.

It’s also interesting to see Batman actually reach out for help in combating this latest Joker threat, especially in comparison to the Death of the Family arc.  Wait until you see his one very unexpected source. Snyder brings plenty of chills and action in this story, even in segments that are just two people talking. His idea for Joker’s origin is one of the most unexpected and scariest ideas for Joker in years. His Crazy Quilt is a wonderfully paranoid font of information.  Guest star Dick Grayson is confident as well as shown to be a good ally, even from afar.  And the Joker himself, while not seen as much this issue, is a constant and terrifying presence.

Snyder also brings in some aspects of Grant Morrison’s famed run, which helps with continuity. Tynion’s backup story is still wonderfully macabre, this time concentrating on a former soldier with an idea about Batman that would make even conspiracy theorist Alex Jones go “you’re nuts.” Joker seems to continue to prey on the psychoses of these inmates, driving them toward even more crimes. Tynion continues to show how Joker can harness madness to further his own ends, and that makes him even more frightening.

Joker swimming in Batman #38Capullo as always is an excellent match for Snyder’s scripts. His zombie-esque Jokerized mob is terrifying to behold. Crazy Quilt may not be in uniform, but Capullo and colorist Plascencia gives a nod to it through a multicolored bathrobe. Capullo’s art ranges from ethereal jellyfish, to a tank battle, to Batman leaping over the city. But his most frightening page by far is a four panel sequence of Joker swimming in dark waters in an old timey bathing suit, like an insane shark out for Batman’s destruction. Keith’s cartoonish drawings in the backup tale gives it an sufficiently creepy vibe.  Something as silly as a man in a homemade Batsuit becomes a blood-soaked murderer within two panels. His Joker is a grinning, friendly presence to this madman, offering him comfort in his paranoid delusions.

What is Joker’s master plan? Is this new origin the truth? Will Batman find out what he needs to stop Joker? This “Endgame” is proving to be one of the all time great Joker tales. While Snyder says this is his last Joker tale, I hope he’d allow Joker a cameo here and there. He’s brought a suspenseful terror back to the Clown Prince of Crime that should remain as a part of the character. With the odds growing slimmer and the casualties mounting, can Batman actually stop Joker this time? We must continue reading, even as a cold shiver goes up our spine.

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About the author

Daniel Kalban

Daniel is the writer of The Eagle webcomic and aspires to one day join his favorite writers at the Big 2. Until then, he keeps plugging away at various projects, as well as serving as a reporter for Word of the Nerd on various subjects, especially the DC Comics "beat".

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