He’s baaaack! No doubt disappointed by the events of Death of the Family, the Joker returns to Gotham with a vengeance, determined to wreck Batman and his beloved city for good. Faced with his own mortality, and the seeming immortality of his greatest foe, the Dark Knight pulls out all the stops in the showdown to end all showdowns. Who will win? Is this the last time we’ll see a robo-bat suit in this run? Is Prince playing on the sound system at that parade near the end? Join me as I tackle the important questions in this, my review of Batman, Vol. 7: Endgame.
This volume collects Batman #35-40, written by Scott Snyder, with pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Danny Miki, colors by FCO Plascencia, letters by Steve Wands, and cover art by Capullo, Miki, and FCO. The backups that were originally published in #35-39 are not included—if you’d like those, they are collected in The Joker: Endgame, along with everything in this volume and some tie-ins from other books.
If you’re interested in detailed analysis of each issue, check out our original reviews at the links below.
Better in one sitting
If you’ve never read this before, sit down when you have an hour or so free and just plow through it. You’ll never get to experience it that way again, but on the first pass, Endgame is a thrilling emotional roller coaster that will move and devastate you. The stakes feel high all the way through, and the resolution is anything but cheap and easy.
Capullo, Miki, and FCO get plenty to do, as well. I don’t think Capullo’s Gotham has ever looked better, from the sweeping shots in the first chapter to the filthy, toxin-infested streets below a gliding Batman after the Joker reveals his hand. And while there aren’t as many poster-quality poses for the Dark Knight as we’re used to, Capullo churns out panel after panel of crazy Joker (or Jokerized) shots. Miki remains my favorite partner for Capullo on this book, too, with immaculately smooth lines and fills.
It starts to break down
Unfortunately, subsequent reading—or close scrutiny the first time through—starts to reveal some cracks. The stakes are so high because Joker has developed a masterpiece of a toxin that—as we will see in future books—has seemingly permanent effects on some of its victims. It is therefore remarkably convenient that the Justice League and the Bat-family all recover from their exposure, while a certain Snyder-created character will be dealing with the effects on his own family as late as All-Star Batman.
Batman also displays a naïveté quite inconsistent with his character. Whether it’s failing to see through the Joker’s false face, or trusting his enemies to aid him in taking down the clown, Bruce makes more missteps than I’m comfortable with, even considering that the Joker just may have him on his heels.
Problems hiding in plain sight
So how come these things don’t pop out the first time through? How can they manage to slip past more casual readers, even after multiple readings? I think it’s because, for all of Snyder’s mistakes in character and plotting (especially in the final few installments), the struggle and intensity are so great that it’s easy to miss these foibles. Perhaps Snyder’s strong narrative voice shepherds us along and protects us from the flaws. Or perhaps like Batman himself, we find the threat so overwhelming that our detective skills are tossed aside as we wrestle with leviathan, fighting just to stay alive.
In addition to a decent-sized variant cover gallery, Endgame also includes pencils from each of the six main covers from the arc.
Value: sale price
You should be able to find this for less than ten dollars on Amazon or elsewhere. This is a story that I think shows its cracks more and more with subsequent reads, so it doesn’t make sense to dump a bunch of money on it up front.
This is best read in one sitting. The emotional weight of Bruce’s struggle provides a lot of momentum, but even that weight has trouble getting traction once you slow down and think about some of the details. The artwork is the usually high quality that we’ve come to expect on Batman, but after a while, I get tired of looking at Capullo’s deranged Joker. All-in-all, Endgame is a decent story that works really well when you ride the wave and don’t ask too many questions. That limits your potential for future enjoyment, but it is one heck of a ride the first time through.