Last night, I was having trouble sleeping; I decided that, instead of tossing and turning in bed and wasting time, I would get up and be productive.  At 2am I logged onto Comixology and read the newest issue of Batman.  While the issue was unsettling enough as it was, imagine sitting at your computer, in the dark, with only the haze of the computer screen illuminating the room.  Yeah, I did glance over my shoulder once or twice!  Especially in the scene with Gordon doing some computer research in a dark room.  God, that was creepy!!!

The story is divided into two main plot lines:  one involving Batman tracking down the first victim of the Joker’s Toxin and the other involving Gordon doing some computer research at home.  Both stories were fully riveting, but I personally found the Gordon one to be more engaging; it just felt more relatable.  Aside from the fact that none of us have ever raided a zombie fortified hospital before, the Gordon section drove home to me the idea of being vulnerable in a so-called safe place.  I’m sure many would agree that our home is one of the places where we can lower our guard and relax.  I’m also guessing that at some point or another we can all relate to the feeling of unease within our own homes.  Maybe it is hearing the creak of a floor board when you know you are home alone, or perhaps coming home and finding something in a different place and don’t remember having moved it.  I think being made vulnerable within your own house makes one feel even more vulnerable than when confronted in a public place because of the false sense of security we have built up around our homes.  The scene even goes so far as to play on the idea of monsters hiding in the closet/under the bed.  While hopefully we have all out grown our fear of monsters, we most likely still remember what it felt like to have that fear, and know that while our childhood monsters were make-believe, there are real “monsters” out there that are far more horrific than anything we envisioned as a child.

About editing:  sometimes, in a story, editing is used to skip over the boring parts.  To allow you to make connections yourself so that time doesn’t need to be wasted on the trivial.  How did Bruce get back to the cave?  Julia went and got him… whatever… the details aren’t important.  Sometimes, however, the expectation of the audience to fill in these blanks can be used against us, where editing is used to hide the truth from us.  The best example I can think of is in The Sixth Sense:  when one scene starts, Bruce Willis is sitting in a chair across from the Mother; when the little kid comes in, she gets up and leaves the room.  Our minds fill in the fact that she let Bruce in, they were chatting, and then when the kid entered she left to allow them to speak together.  But that is all us filling in the blanks.  This is an example where lack of information forced our minds to fill in the wrong answers and hide the truth from ourselves…  So back to Batman; I’m curious to see if all these omissions in the story are to save time or to hide the truth. Each of these Endgame issues starts with Bruce experiencing some form of hallucination while the reader is left to decide what is real and what isn’t. As a result, many aspects of the story are left up to debate.  For example, we are lead to believe that his current situation results from the Joker shooting him with a toxin laced dart.  But is that what is really going on?  I don’t claim to have all the answers, I’m merely postulating that it is impossible to determine what is happening in his head and what is really going on.  The internal struggle that he has on the first page is very much about fear, fear of doubting his own abilities.  Fear of not being enough to handle this trial.  Is this residual fear toxin mixing with the Joker’s toxin?  Is it all a hallucination still manifesting from the original Scarecrow toxin?  There are just too many variables and unanswered questions to be able to pin anything down.

Another scene that had me wondering about the legitimacy of it’s reality…

Spoiler
was when Joker reenacts the Thomas and Martha Wayne killing using some stand ins.  The killer is in a doorless room where one entire wall is a glass panel.  Meanwhile, Batman suddenly becomes aware of a hand made set off to his left resembling Crime Alley.  The three stand ins enter the scene, they aren’t Jokerized or being coerced so I am not sure why they are playing along.  Then the killer is suddenly where he needs to be, magically vanishing from his cell and into theirs.  It turns out to be unlikely that it was a hallucination since Batman flees with one of them, but it still had me questioning its authenticity for awhile. 
  Perhaps that is the point of all of it though.  To keep us guessing and off balance.  Make us feel the way that Batman is surely feeling.

Will we ever get concrete answers, or is the story going to remain entirely up to the perspective of the individual reading it.  In Gordon’s scenario, we are given both a supernatural and logical explanation for the events, but nothing is ever definitive.  While the part of me that demands logic is screaming for answers to dozens of questions at the moment, I feel like leaving everything open would be far better for the story in the long run.  Answer all the questions and the debate dies,  leaves stuff open ended and you will have people debating the questions forever.                              

Spoiler

jokerized

No thanks.

doctors

My skin is crawling.

Jim

Turn Around Dammit!

underthebed

Have fun trying to fall asleep tonight!

  • So, Gordon is out of prison.  Did he not get his job with the GCPD back?  Seeing him at home in the middle of this epidemic would make me assume this.  If he were back on the force wouldn’t they need every available person to handle this?
  • Is the Joker just a man, or is he a supernatural force to be reckoned with?  I find it interesting that the story is playing with these concepts.  At the moment it isn’t giving us any definitive answers, merely letting us consider the possibilities.  If it remains this open ended, then the Joker can be whatever each of us needs him to be in order for us to enjoy the character.  Joker’s image in 100 year old pictures: digital manipulation or a creature that never dies?  Getting shot right in the chest:  bullet proof vest or immortal monster?  You can look at it either way, and as long as they don’t explain how the trick was done both viewpoints will end up as being valid to the individual who chooses to believe them.
  • Bruce says that he needs to be more than a man in order to defeat Joker.   Bruce also says that he can’t treat Joker as being more than a man or Joker will win.  Gordon has a similar statement where he derides Joker for attempting to make people believe he is more than a man.  I kind of feel like this plays into Batman’s philosophy on superstitions, cowards, and symbols.  For either character, having a reputation which proceeds them would make their hurdles easier to overcome.  Believing that either one of them is more than just a man is what gives them an advantage over their opponents.
  • Has anybody else read Steven King’s IT.  In the book, a monster that takes on the form of a clown, to lure in children to feed on, hibernates for decades at a time till hungry again.  In one part of the book, they realize that a major disaster takes place at regular intervals (every 20 or 30 years, can’t remember exactly) when the creature wakes up to feed.  They come to the understanding that it is an evil that has been alive for centuries.  When Gordon was doing his computer search on Gotham Presbyterian, it was hard not to think this had some small inspiration.
  • The thing with Joker getting shot and not dying is kinda Michael Myersesque.  Another fun little trope of the horror genre I suppose.
  • It almost seemed like Joe Chill was trying to fight the effects of the Joker toxin, I don’t think he wanted to kill the Thomases.
  • After all the crap Joker has put Jim through over the years, it was nice to see him just pull the trigger for once, even if it didn’t stick.  Jim looked so happy too.

Interesting Facts:

themanwholaughs

  • This is actor Conrad Veidt, he played Gwynplaine in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs.  Adapted from the 1869 book L’Homme qui rit by Victor Hugo, it is a story about a boy who was disfigured, by the king, so that he would be forced to forever laugh at the foolishness of his father, whom the king had put to death.  This was one of the things that helped to inspire Bill Finger’s visual appearance for the Joker.  Since Gordon was checking out some turn of the century black and white photos, it seemed appropriate to share this real turn of the century black and white.
  • For those of you who don’t remember,  the little boy seen in this issue is Duke Thomas.  He was the kid from Zero Year who helped out Batman and also appeared in the Futures End Batman & Robin story in which a grown up Duke becomes Batman’s new partner, Lark.
  • Gordon’s ringtone, “I Fought the Law”, is a song from 1960.  The original was by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets but you can find dozens of covers out there, most noteworthy are the ones by Bobby Fuller Four, The Clash, and Green Day.  I’m curious which version Gordon had playing on his phone.  It seems like a curious ringtone for Gordon to assign to Batman.  The full line to the song is, “I fought the law and the law won”.  I get the first part as applied toward Batman, but the law won?

Batman_37

  • This is the cover to Batman #37 (1946).

Recommended if…

  • You are a fan of the horror genre.
  • You love yourself some creepy ass Joker.

Overall:

Endgame started off as a big scale action blockbuster of unparalleled proportions and has made the shift to intimate psychological horror.  It feels like Scott Snyder is putting down all his cards and giving you the best of everything he has to offer in every world and genre he has at his disposal.  This issue was beyond awesome! I cannot find enough words to do this issue justice, you will just have to trust me on that: this issue is amazing!  If the scene with Gordon doesn’t make you uneasy, then you have no soul.  Just like the Joker!

SCORE: 9.5/10