The Joke’s on you – a “Batman #40” Review

May 4, 2015

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Bat 40Batman #40
DC Comics

Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Greg Capullo

After the pointless publishing delay of Batman due to Convergence, we finally have the conclusion to Scott Snyder’s definitive Joker story: Endgame.  Picking up at start of the all out battle with the Bat family and Batman’s Rogue’s gallery one side and Joker’s forces on the other.  The fact that Joker has pushed the bat family to point of allying with the likes of Bane, Clay face, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Penguin gives the book a sense of being epic in scope creating arguably the greatest show down of all time between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of crime.

However this book isn’t about that battle, but about Batman’s pushing back the limits that this Joker pushed him toward.  Setting up one the best fights physically and mentally between the two beneath Gotham for the soul of the city.  A city that two men have fought over the past 75 years.  After which Batman is asked to make a Nolan level sacrifice to save the citizens of Gotham, by keeping the Joker in a collapsing cave after he transports the anti-dote to the latest Joker virus.

Batman joker death

The inevitable question coming out of this Joker arc will be: Did Scott Snyder push Batman too far by having the character orchestrate a murder suicide between Batman and the Joker?

An elegant and poignant sacrifice, but at least in the short term a murder suicide none the less.  While I appreciate the gravitas that Snyder has given to this Joker story with his decision to have Batman make that decision, a decision that will save millions of Gothamites.  It has historically been one that the greatest Batman story tellers from film to comics have avoided.  I applaud Snyder’s instinct to tell a definitive and conclusive Joker story, it is however the only story telling element in his 40 issue critically acclaimed Batman run that I question it’s alignment with the core of the Batman character.

After initially reading this issue I was giddy with excitement over the grandiose Batman and Joker arc that BATMAN 40 VarSnyder and Capullo had finished telling.  Then I tried to explain the plot of the comic to a friend upon on them witnessing my excitement over just finishing the book.  It went something like: “Well Batman had to fight the joker beneath Gotham to get the anti-dote to a potent Joker virus that the joker pulled out of his spine, and the only way to get the cure was to get it from the Joker’s spine and get it to Cassandra Pennyworth, then he committed a murder suicide with the Joker keeping him from leave the cave as it collapsed.”  At this point I began to question the flow of this story.

Batman endgame was big, bold, action packed, and a must read in the Batman mythos.  However I hesitate to put it into the upper echelon of Batman stories in the vain of books such as: Long Halloween, Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, and Hush.  While this story has been critically acclaimed in my opinion it is a bit bloated to be considered a Batman masterpiece.


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