Book O’ The Week: Batman #13

Words: Scott Synder. Pictures: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion.

I’ll admit, I’m writing this hours ahead of actually picking up this week’s books, but I have no qualms about saying that it’s the one book I’ve really been hanging out most for. Snyder and Capullo’s work has been a real testament to how engrossing and thrilling superhero stories can be – not every book has to be a fate-of-the-known-universe epic to make it a moving and exciting story. Admittedly, the Night Of The Owls event was pretty huge, but when you look at what happened, the timeframe involved was tiny. Bats himself had a bit of a rough week leading up to it, but the Night Of The Owls itself was just that – a night. So with the knowledge that this week’s issue kicks off their next arc, and reintroduces the yin to Batman’s yang, I’m on the edge of my seat. Seeya back in a few hours…

All right Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up,”

Glad I wrote that in advance. The book is…disturbing. For the last few months, the creators have been talking about this story, with a LOT of emphasis on it being the return of the Joker, and a big, scary return at that. They weren’t lying. For a character who can so easily be terrifying, too often the Joker becomes a ghoulish foil for Batman, with the clown aspects balanced too nicely against the psychopath, leaving a blander than could be character, This issue felt startling – it was the comic equivalent of a wake up call jolting you from your peaceful slumber. The Joker is back, and he’s messed up.

In sequences that are downright uncomfortable, the Joker takes us back through some of his greatest hits, he knows exactly who he’s hurt along the way, and he’s not afraid to bring it up in a casual fashion. He’s now murdering his way through the people of Gotham with a purpose, but almost complete lack of emotion – they are simply props to him. And the whole time, he talks…he talks about past deeds, he talks about private parts of the character’s lives, he seems to know a lot more than he’s ever alluded to before…this is a Joker who messes with you mentally just as much as his gruesome party favours may mess with you physically. It’s not an overstatement to say that this is Joker back as a criminal mastermind, either, as he gets one over on Batman in a horrific way.

Snyder’s writing has brought fresh life to the Batman books, from his envigoration of what a story set in a city without magical powers can be, to the city itself becoming a prominent cast member. Death Of The Family is shaping up to pack the same wallop as Gates Of Gotham and Night Of The Owls did – we are getting a blockbuster thriller told in a close-to-real-world setting. There’s no army of magical power ring wielders fighting a technicolour combat. There’s no floating city populated with superbeings. There’s no mystical energy force imbuing otherwise sane characters with insane ideas. It’s already been set that this is one man pitched against the other, and everyone else will definitely get caught in the crossfire.

A chilling return for some of the Gotham supporting cast, and a nice sequence of Batman really reaching out and being a bit more of a team player than previously – the art is solid and whilst some of the most terrifying sequences happen almost in the dark, the lack of light is used superlatively to effectively build a sense of fear and claustraphobia.

An awesome prologue for one of the greatest dynamic duo’s ever. And now, I won’t clarify which pair that is, but let’s just say their best work is yet to come.
RATING: 5 Batarangs Out of 5

~ by nick on October 13, 2012.

One Response to “Book O’ The Week: Batman #13”

  1. My favorite story arcs:
    Amazing Spider Man # 226 – 227 (March – April 1982)
    Daredevil # 227 – 233 (February – August 1986)
    Venom: Sinner Takes All # 1 – 5 (August – December 1995)
    Batman: The Long Halloween # 1 – 13 (December 1996 – December 1997)
    X – Men: Children of the Atom # 1 – 6 (November 1999 – September 2000)
    Punisher Vol. 3 # 1 – 12 (April 2000 – March 2001)
    Daredevil: Yellow # 1 – 6 (August 2001 – January 2002)
    Fury Vol. 2 # 1 – 6 (November 2001 – April 2002)
    Kingpin: Thug # 1 – 7 (August 2003 – February 2004)
    Titans Vol 3: Fractured (August 2009 – April 2010)

    My favorite single issues:
    Redemption (Daredevil # 200) November 1983
    The Deadliest Night of My Life (Daredevil # 208) July 1984
    Badlands (Daredevil # 219) June 1985
    Fog (Daredevil # 220) July 1985
    Batman: Seduction of the Gun February 1993
    Bad Company (Steel # 3) April 1994
    The Meaning of Life (Shadow of the Bat # 72) March 1998
    A Night to Remember (Generation X # 57) November 1999
    Murdock’s Law (Daredevil Vol. 2 # 9) December 1999
    Ladies’ Night (The Brave and the Bold Vol. 3 # 33) June 2010

    Of course I didn’t consider expected titles like The Dark Knight Returns or Batman Year One, because they are graphic novels, not story arcs. What do you think about it?

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