Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Batman #36 Review


Scott Snyder decides to use this issue to identify another aspect of the Batman-Joker relationship – where earlier it was why Joker loves Batman, now it’s why Batman hates the Joker, and why he’s his greatest foe.

Reinvention of classic themes is one of the hallmarks of Snyder’s run, and he does it ably here. Capullo complements that well with his artwork


It all starts with thought and evolves into something else. We consider Batman to be the perfect human being – one who has a plan for everything and everything, no matter how farfetched.

So why fear a clown?

In the course of the Batman mythos, we’ve seen god like beings and entire planet destroyers facing up against Bruce and coming up short. But it is only when things get personal, that you can truly strike fear into a man.

Joker represents everything Bruce loathes both about himself and the world – chaos, emptiness and above all, that life may just be a joke.

So, when he’s being pounded by a mind-controlled Superman or suffering life-threatening delusions, it’s the Joker that is upmost in his mind. He has the resources to use on Superman, and he does but factoring in the Joker is something that proves beyond even him.

There’s a meta commentary going on during their fight about a long time (and ill-thought out) dispute – who wins in a fight to the end? Batman or Superman?

The answer is – whoever you want to? It serves no purpose to put two men dedicated to the world in opposite manners. And as Bruce himself states, no one wins in the end.

The entire Justice League is out of commission for nearly a week, and despite Bruce’s suggestions, a weakened Alfred and worried Julia stay on.

Julia proves to be an asset, as she manages to answer how the League got infected – though where the Joker is, that is something Bruce knows all to well.

Moving to an abandoned Arkham Asylum (see Batman Eternal), he muses upon the cell 801, Joker’s residence during his incarceration – again a bit of meta commentary given that the 8th letter is H and 1st is A, so HA. Frustrated, he starts tearing the cell apart before noticing that a person is there.

It is Dr. Eric Border, whom many may recognize from the Zero Year Annual as the person who cared about the patients at Arkham and thought Batman could be one of the beneficiaries of the system. This reflects on the idea that it is Bruce who gave rise to physical representations of his demons – primarily the Joker.

And before he can do anything, Batman is caged, with a paralytic gas coming in, and Eric Border reveals himself to be the one and only Eternal Prince of the Jesters – the Joker. On the floor, a dead rodent is being fed on by flies.

All bets are off. And the Joker is the one to set the theme of the play. First, it was a comedy with a happy ending but now, it’s one of revenge – how justice was done, and love was saved.

Even as riots break out across the city with more people succumbing to the Joker toxin, Joker takes out his joke gun, only this time the bullets may be real and it’s a paralyzed Bruce they seem to enter. A solitary fly lands on Bruce’s unmoving eye slit, and flies away at ‘BANG’.

In the backup, the second story starts as a second inmate recollects how she killed her family to stop them from turning into robots – and that the Joker was their master, and showed her that it was a good thing she was doing. Even as the doctor tries to reason with her by saying that he is using their delusions, a bunch of Jokerized people burst in.

Some thoughts – the heavy use of Scarecrow’s fear toxin in this story seems like it is pivotal beyond just being a part of Bruce’s paranoia induced dreams. I’m not sure yet whether this is one, though the cliffhanger does hint at something shocking.

And while I'm okay with Joker being at the Asylum when Batman comes there (cause he knows him), I'm not totally sure why Bruce would want to go on a nostalgic trip to a place without hinting at a logical reason for going there (say something like Joker would....!).


With some excellent meta-commentary, Snyder does create a special issue – though there are still some questionable actions in the air.

The mysteries are exciting though and Capullo’s rendition of the characters (with the exception of Julia, who looks like she’s always happy irrespective of the situation) is excellent.

So, I give it 8.5 out of 10.

+The meta commentary is expertly handled
+Juggling of some basic Batman themes
+The artwork by Capullo is beautiful
+The mysteries are engaging
-Abrupt jumps in plot
-Absence of most of the supporting Bat cast

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