Batman Volume 7: Endgame / Scott Snyder
The Joker's done playing games, and he's coming after Batman like never before. His loving torment of Batman over the years is gone, replaced with an all-enveloping viciousness designed to take out Batman and annihilating everything and everyone the dark knight has ever cared for.
Hatred is the name of the game here. Crazed, obsessive, maddening hatred. Once Joker thought of he and Batman as mirrors of a sort, bound together by fate. But after being flung into a near bottomless pit to die, he's feeling a little jilted, and all of Gotham is going to help make Batsy pay.
In Endgame Snyder gives us a darkness reminiscent of Frank Miller's Batman. The Joker has found a way to turn his madness into a biological weapon, infecting first the Justice League, then Gotham itself.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
I'm honestly not 100% sure how I feel about this story line. There are some things I loved, and some I remain unconvinced about.
There is a lot of focus, with accompanying expository dialog, on Batman's various armaments, and miraculously deployed solutions that leave me a little unconvinced. I kind of felt like "yeah, I get it," though I know his gadgetry has always been a big part of Batman's shtick. I'm more interested in Batman's ingenuity, than an advertisement for his products, if that makes any sense.
I absolutely love Wonder Woman wrecking Batman, she is deadly, focused, and intense. In some ways the whole Jokerization of the Justice League that comes out at the end of that fight feels like a let down and cop out. Especially as she's basically completely normal until near the end of their conflict. On the other hand, I'm sure many people will love that twist.
I also enjoyed the teaming of classic heroes and enemies together against a common goal, particularly as some of the Batman villains have been more twisted than evil.
The whole Immortal/Inhuman Joker thing was not my bag of tea. Just wasn't feeling it, and it kind of made me groan. I'm not fully sure why, especially since I happen to love a different anti-hero known for his insanity and effective immortality. Maybe it was making him into some sort of god among men, or maybe it was just the whole Pale Man bit which made me think of Robin Hobb's White Prophets.
Snyder doesn't pull many punches in this. The Joker infection causes cellular degradation that if allowed to progress will be fatal. Commissioner Gordon is taken out, Albert is maimed and left living with his failure, and Batman and the Joker fall together.
I like the poetic balance of Batman and Joker ending together, and it was well done. Alfred's choice to not have his hand reattached because he has no one to care for anymore highlights his depression and mourning in the aftermath. I do feel that in some ways this story wasn't lethal enough. I suppose there's only so many main characters you can kill off in a single story if you're not George R. R. Martin.
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of DC Entertainment via Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.