This week there were three Bat centric books hit the stands Batman #13, Batgirl #13 and Batman and Robin #13. The Joker is back.
Batman#13 was flat out fantastic and easily the best book of the week and I have yet to read all of my books. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have kept the quality of this book at a high level and this book is possible the best issue yet.
The Joker had his face cut off and then he disappears for a year. We open with Jim Gordon and Harvey talking about bad omens. We then switch to Gordon at the station when the Joker shows up and methodically terrorizes Jim and kills his officers as he steals back his face. Next he proclaims a televised challenge that he will kill the mayor. All precautions are taken and a mass death occurs to all the guards around the mayor. Gordon and Batman are both being outplayed by the Joker. Batman informs all of his operatives about the Joker being in town, thinks the Joker is playing out his first crimes and goes to where the Joker was created. Instead of it being the Joker, it is Harley dressed to look like the Joker in his Red Hood outfit. Batman is caught in a trap and the Joker shows up at Wayne manor about to attack and apparently kill Alfred.
What makes this such a fantastic story is the way the Joker is so brutal and so merciless. He is willing to kill any number of people, but doing it all to terrify people that he hates the most. The sense of menace is palatable. He is a genius at what he does and all the resources of the GCPD and Batman are unable to stop him. The new look of the Joker is equally disturbing as he now wears the face that was cut off of him as a mask of his own flesh. This Joker is horrific on a psychological level and horrific on a physical level. You feel like anyone could be killed by him. The added backup story about his capture of Harley was equally disturbing. While Harley is a twisted soul herself, you actually feel sympathy for what he put her through. This is an A level book and the start of what looks to be a great story.
From a marketing perspective I also loved the die cut wraparound cover. That trade dress will guarantee DC great sales on a book with that die cut. It truly makes this event stand out on the shelves.
The one problem I have is with the new DCU timeline. Since I never know what is “real” is not “real” saying the Joker was the Red Hood really pushes his timeline back in my mind. Also he was gone a year, which means a year of comics equaled a year. This is nitpicking comic nerd stuff at its worst, but it is stuff that runs through my mind and certainly does not hurt this story. Snyder continues to impress. Batman has Snyder, Layman, Tomasi and Morrison all doing great work on four different books. It is easy to be a Batman fan.
Batman and Robin #13 was a very good issue. Peter Tomasi has been making this book about Bruce and his relationship with Damian. They even acknowledge what is happening in Batman Inc. It also tied into the Joker story line more than Batgirl. What I enjoy about this book is watching Bruce and Damian learn how to be father and son as they learn how to be Batman and Robin. Tomasi does not get enough credit for his ability as he is a top notch writer competing against Snyder in the Batman stuff and Johns in the GL stuff. DC needs to promote him more as a star.
Batgirl #13 was a total rip off as it had less to do with this story then Batman and Robin #13, which did not have the die cut cover treatment. Batgirl had one page that tied into “Death of the Family” but that was it. I had dropped Batgirl a couple of issues ago, so DC did rope me back in for the next few issues. Plus I want to like this book as Gail Simone is a very good writer.
The foundation of the DCU is doing well. I’m not as vested in all the characters as I used to be, but tell me great stories with solid art and I’ll be there.