Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Joker: Endgame Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


Have you already read Batman, Volume 7: Endgame? If yes, then you’ve already read about half of this book! That’s right, DC have republished the entire Endgame story arc in this book, that’s Batman #35-40 - pretty audacious! I’m not going to re-review it so if you want to know what I thought about those issues, click the link here and it’ll take you to the Batman, Vol. 7 review. 

So what’s new in this book? The backups from those single issues are collected here. Written by James Tynion IV and drawn by some big name artistic talent who’ve drawn Batman before - Kelley Jones, Graham Nolan, John McCrea, Sam Kieth, and Dustin Nguyen - it follows a psychologist who’s kidnapped by some Arkham patients who are all obsessed with the Joker. Each patient recounts how they came to know the Joker in a dark Canterbury Tales-pastiche, underlining the uncertain-origins theme of Endgame. I didn’t care for these sections which were generally boring and that whole “who is the Joker really?” angle from the main story bugged me already.

There are also five single issue Endgame tie-ins included in this book: Batman Annual #3, Arkham Manor: Endgame #1, Batgirl: Endgame #1, Detective Comics: Endgame #1, and Gotham Academy: Endgame #1. 

Batman Annual #3 - also written by Tynion and drawn by Roge Antonio - was my favourite of the bunch. A journalist called Tommy joins the Gotham Gazette and writes patronising articles about the Joker - until the Joker notices and decides to be Tommy’s bestie. Remember what happened when Joker decided he wanted to be Batman’s pal? Death of the Family. So Tommy’s in for a world of pain! 

Tynion brings the horror of the Joker to vivid life in this issue. Tommy initially mocks the idea of the Joker - he’s just a clown! etc. - and then we see what that “clown” (he’s actually a jester, there’s a difference) can do. It’s a disturbing, dark and kinda brilliant issue - my favourite thing Tynion’s done for DC yet. 

Arkham Manor: Endgame #1, written by Frank Tieri and illustrated by Felix Ruiz and Roberto Viacava, was pretty forgettable. Joker spearheads a breakout in Arkham Manor, told from the perspective of one of the inmates, and there’s a twist ending that underwhelms rather than shocks.

Batgirl: Endgame #1, written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Bengal, is a silent comic about Batgirl saving a little girl caught in the midst of the Joker toxin-infected crowd. Meh. Unnecessary to say the least. 

Detective Comics: Endgame #1, written by Brian Buccellato and illustrated by Roge Antonio and Ronan Cliquet, shows us the Joker toxin-infected masses from the perspective of a group of kids who’re trying to survive and somehow didn’t get turned. One kid, Lonnie, is trying to get to his stripper mom who’s barricaded in her club by a crazed mob. I think this is the start of the We Are Robin series too. If so, I’m hoping series writer Lee Bermejo tells a more interesting story than Buccellato manages here. 

Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 (I’m wondering why they bothered with the numbering - it’s not like there’s going to be a Gotham Academy: Endgame #2!), written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Jeff Stokely, was actually pretty decent. Olive, Maps and Pomeline are hiding out while The Custodian (think elderly Zorro) defends the Academy from the crazies. To pass the time they tell Joker stories featuring a haunted Joker mask, a wandering jester in red, and a boy who tried summoning the Smiling Man in the mirror - and succeeded. Creepy fun! 

Thing is, none of these tie-ins and backups have any bearing on the main storyline at all. You can easily never read these and still get the full story of Endgame from Batman, Vol. 7 alone. A couple of the tie-in issues in this collection were good and it might be worth checking out this book from the library for those who have already read/bought Batman, Vol. 7 but you could just as easily skip it. If you haven’t read Batman, Vol. 7 then it’d probably be better to get this book instead because you get that volume AND everything else as well. 

Generally though, Endgame was a pretty disappointing Batman event especially as it came from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo who, up til now, have had an outstanding run on the character.

The Joker: Endgame

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