In fact, I enjoyed this issue so much that I would have to say that it’s my favorite issue of Batman since #5 with the labyrinth. I just had so much fun reading this! It’s creepy, fast-paced, action packed, shocking, funny, and disgusting. Also, whenever I would find myself thinking “Why wouldn’t Batman just ____.” I would flip the page and low-and-behold Batman was doing exactly what I had hoped. He’s very no nonsense in this issue, which is exactly the way Batman should always operate. He knows he’s made it into Arkham ahead of Joker’s schedule and if he pushes hard he can end this before it goes any further. So what we see is page after page of Joker throwing up blockade after blockade to keep Batman away long enough so that the final tableau can be arranged.
The first three rooms Batman enters are already complete and serve as a twisted love letter to the Caped Crusader. Each is more disturbing than the last until Batman starts to push into the asylum too deeply and too quickly. The stages grow brutal, villains begin to emerge from the shadows to impede Batman’s progress, but even that proves to not be enough until the only thing between Batman and the Joker is hurriedly stacked furniture jamming a door. Or at least that’s the way things seem. It’s all terribly exciting and I’ll likely read it again and again.
All the Things I Can Overlook
Yes, there are things in here that I had a problem with so I can’t exactly call it flawless, but the elements I loved far outweighed the things that gave me pause.
First off is the continuity issue: even if you’re reading Batman and Batman alone it’s very hard to believe that the Joker could have taken care of all of Batman’s allies between issue #15 and issue #16. Besides the Joker’s omnipresence though the other continuity issue would have to be with a cameo. A villain
My second complaint would be that although it was awesome seeing Batman take on so many classic rogues in this issue, the comic made all of them appear rather weak. Not only because of how Batman manhandles many of them in less than 3 panels each, but in the way they all shrink from the Joker in the backup. One villain
Speaking of the backup, the change in art style between Capullo and Jock was very, very jarring. Unlike how the other Batman comics featured a short story that occurred at a different place and time, this book’s backup picks up where the main story left off. It didn’t feel like a backup, it felt like I had turned the page and suddenly none of the characters were wearing the same clothes.
Lettering. The second to last page has a speech bubble that forgot the word “of” when saying “Any them, ever” and that’s annoying, but then there is a line in which the word “ass” is implied but instead we get “#%^”. Really? #%^? Why is the word “ass”, one of the weakest of all curse words, omitted? It’s not even on the George Carlin list of seven dirty words you can’t say on television. In a comic about a psychotic clown with a severed rotting face we can’t say the word “ass”? People are burned, electrocuted, stitched together and hanged upside down in this issue…yet we can’t see the letter “a” followed by “ss”? Is burning, electrocution, and mutilation okay for a T rating but parents shouldn’t let their children see a funnybook in which that three letter word is used? What gives?
So Good Lookin’
Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion are going to get a lot of praise today. This comic is stunning and you can tell that Scott Snyder wrote it to Capullo’s strengths. You’re in for some sights that are outright gross and absolutely unnerving in this one, that’s for sure, but I’m amazed at the sheer variety. Capullo had to have had fun drawing this thing. Every page impresses because of the level of detail on, well, everything. The tortured guards have bloody feet and stubble on their cheeks, the desks are littered with pens and post-it notes, every guard is wearing full armor with a torch and helmet that reflects the flames, the Joker’s tapestry grows more disturbing the longer you look at it, the villains making cameos all look superb, Batman’s startled and angered expressions ring true, and there’s just so much more I would love to say but I don’t want to give anything away. Of course, I shouldn’t praise the artwork without saluting FCO Plascencia. Capullo’s detailed pencils and the Glapion’s rich shadows are great but they wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressive without FCO’s colors. Look at teh florescent glow coming from each cell in the opening pages, the faint, smokey blood in the water, how alarming the red lights are when the emergency power switches on. The colors make that scene. When Batman is fighting all those armored guards, take note at the shades of orange used to illuminate that fight and how they emanate from the torches. While Capullo gives the Joker flies to make him look more decomposed, it’s FCO who gives the once stark white face a tarnished look that makes it clear that the skin is dryer and more leathery than it was when we last saw the villain. And he must be a fan of the Arkham City games as well because if you look closely at
Just when I’m at my worst point of Joker fatigue and exhaustion from all the tie-ins, Snyder and Capullo push the plot forward and remind me that the core of this event really is something worth getting excited for. I can’t see how any bat fan could read this issue and feel that it wasn’t worth their $3.99. It’s a comic that I’ll want to read more than once as it features some amazing action and truly startling twists and turns. Snyder and the rest of team Batman are really setting the bar high for 2013 Batman comics to come.