Batman Vol7 Endgame cover

“I don’t know what to do. These are uncharted waters.” So Batman observes about midway through the Endgame arc, collected in volume 7 of his New 52 series. Jim Gordon has taken an axe to the chest, the Joker has already sicced a mentally-warped Justice League on Batman, made it clear he knows his secret identity, and a contagious Joker virus is turning Gotham’s populace into a gleefully violent mob. Things are looking dire, but also fascinatingly symmetrical, in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s grand treatment of the Joker and all he represents. Things are also looking sharp thanks to Danny Miki’s inking, and thematically color-coded thanks to FCO Plascencia’s colors. But first, let’s chew on the story.

Batman: Endgame is keenly aware of the iconic status of its characters and the near-mythical rivalry between Batman and the Joker. These two have been locked in a stalemate for years, as fans well know and new readers are told. The story kicks off with Bruce Wayne under attack by the members of the Justice League, with each encounter showing off how Batman has a contingency for dispatching each of his allies. Bats and Supes going toe to toe, while visually exciting, is not celebrated in and of itself: “Who wins in a fight? The answer is always the same. Neither of us.” The assault is an elaborate opening salvo from Joker that starts things with a bang, but everything to follow will soon be drenched in shadows and unraveling mystery. Rumors and half-credible reports of Joker’s secret immortality suggest a new option in his multiple-choice origin story.

There are fairly new faces, too. Alfred’s daughter Julia Pennyworth is in town lending her mind and talents to hunting down Joker, and a teen named Duke Thomas is brought dangerously close to the circumstances that traumatized a young Bruce Wayne. Both characters were introduced in earlier Batbooks—Batman Eternal and Zero Year, respectively—but fit in with little explanation here. By the end, the extended Bat-Family, the Court of Owls, and even several of his rogues gallery make appearances, and yet the cast never feels too crowded. Seeing as the book opens and closes with an extended theater metaphor, it’s fitting that everything within feels like a curtain call for the miniature universe that has spawned out of Gotham City. Sharp-eyed Grayson readers will spot a visual reference to his disguise well ahead of his reveal.

Actually, sharp-eyed readers will pick up on visual references strung throughout the book. Capullo characterizes creepy symbolism and an almost pervasively gloomy sense of mortality in every scene. Plascencia’s colors are always deceptively muted between sequences of bold, dramatic hues. Victims of Joker’s gas are bathed in a sickly green light that matches their converted irises. The artists never waste an opportunity to stage a stark silhouette against a brilliant background or zoom out to expose small characters within sets that swallow the page. If all of this sounds hyperbolic, it’s because the level of consideration at every level of this production never relents. A billionaire in a batsuit is supposed to punch a clown out of murdering everyone, but there’s too much embedded in the imagery to call it a mere matter of flying and tights.

There are considerations of a hand getting chopped off and some truly gruesome facial wounds, and I mentioned the axe, right? The content aims squarely for older adolescents and adults who like their bat-adventures as serious as a hearse, but in this case, the procession is to die for.

Batman: Endgame 7
by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Plascencia
ISBN: 9781401256890
DC Comics, 2015

  • Thomas

    | He/Him Teen Services Librarian, Richland Library

    Features Writer

    Thomas is a teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying for his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, he won an award from Thomas Cooper Library for his curation of the works of “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. He has spoken about manga, graphic novels, teen programming, and podcasting at NashiCon, DragonCon, ColaCon, New York Comic Con, and American Library Association conferences. He has been on on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee, written articles for Public Libraries, The Hub, Book Riot, and Library Trends, and reviews for School Library Journal and Kirkus.

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