In Batman #38, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia continue their “Joker story to end all Joker stories,” and their output is once again masterful. When most runs operate at such a consistent, high quality, it can be difficult to review month after month. That is not the case here, as the creative team manages to pack so many details and story elements within the space of a single issue.
Batman #38, very much like the previous issue, is a horror comic. Keep the lights on and make sure there are others around, because even then it is the stuff of nightmares thanks to the art team’s ghoulishly sinister art. Greg Capullo comes with a strong horror pedigree, having illustrated Spawn and Haunt over at Image Comics. His collaboration with Scott Snyder puts that background to effective use here, as the imagery can be simply frightening. The sight of of Jim Gordon with an ax in his chest is disturbing enough, but to have him reanimated with Joker toxin wielding the same ax causes shivers. The same occurs with a delightfully eerie imagery of the Joker slowly swimming towards the reader. Do not be mistaken: he use of contradicting adjectives is intentional. Watching a master such as Capullo excel is a joyful experience for the reader, even if what he produces is terrifying. Capullo’s artwork is satisfying on its own, but Danny Miki’s inks draw attention to the pages’ focal points. The details that he adds on his own, be it textures, shadows, or silhouettes, add to the overall aesthetic of the issue.
Scott Snyder’s script for Batman #38 is essentially the fallout from the previous issue. Batman is on the run for the entirety of the issue, desperate for an answer. In a moment that flies in the face of every fan that has argued “Batman always wins because of prep time,” Batman confesses that doesn’t have a plan this time. It’s completely unexpected. This is Batman, he always has a plan. How can he not have a plan? The confession instantly raises the stakes, adding to the terror of “Endgame.”
Snyder has stated multiple times that he and Capullo will be on Batman beyond “Endgame,” but the pieces are lining up to a point where they could walk away after this story arc. There is mention of Doctor Death from “Zero Year.” There is further mystery surrounding Gotham City’s history, which might involve the Court of Owls. This is the creative team’s “final” Joker story. Though each story has proved to be strong on their own, seeing them begin to tie together in this arc is a satisfying payoff for readers.
Batman #38 continues the monthly trend of Batman being awesome. The story that the creative team has crafted immerses the reader in a terrifying world, and it is wonderful. “Endgame” might just be this team’s best work to date. To top it all off, they managed to find a way to include the much demanded Z-lister, Crazy Quilt – and it worked! That alone is worth the price of admission.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com