This review was originally posted at InfiniteComix.com
Batman #40 is written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia – that alone should speak to the quality of the issue. However, the concluding chapter of their “Endgame” saga provides a thrilling resolution to both the 6-issue arc and their overall Batman narrative that began with DC’s “New 52” relaunch in 2011.
First things first – the artwork is absolutely stunning. FCO has been the underrated star of this title, filling each page with a vibrant and varied palate. The parade sequence is an acid-dream of primary colors intertwined with muddy grays and greens while the issue’s climax is a grimy combination of earth tones, accented by the occasional splash of red.
The linework by Capullo and Miki is both gritty and gorgeous. That combination would normally be contradictory, but it is perfect in the context of Batman. The battle in the streets of Gotham is a satisfying exercise in coordinated chaos. However, that is merely a tune-up for the knock-down, drag-out brawl between Batman and the Joker. It is brutal. Though it is strange to see Joker portrayed as a physical match for Bruce, the ferocity Capullo gives to each one of his attacks makes the reader believe.
Capullo manages to integrate some wonderful imagery into this action-packed issue. The cover alone evokes Greek mythology and Biblical themes, a fair representation of what takes place in the succeeding pages. There are other wonderful details Capullo includes, such as a pool of blood forming into a broken heart, that elevates the artwork from Batman’s already high standards.
Of course, the artwork alone does not make a comic book. And as he has done for the past 5 years, Scott Snyder delivers yet another fantastic script. The issue is littered with moments in which Batman, seemingly against all odds, gets the last laugh on the Joker. From the cape-and-cowl switcheroo to Bruce ironically referring to Joker as his “friend,” there are surprises of varying degrees throughout. The biggest surprise (at the Joker’s expense) comes as the issue winds to a close with the realization that there is no escape plan, that these two will be forced to face down and embrace their own mortality. It is a fitting reminder about what is ultimately appealing about Batman – that he is a mortal man worthy of standing beside titans.
Batman #40 is a near-perfect conclusion to the “Endgame” arc, as well as serving as an unofficial end to the Batman saga. The creative team has positioned the book for a bold new direction that simultaneously parallels and contrasts with past story lines. Wherever path the next story follows, Snyder and Capullo will have a difficult time topping themselves.