Writer – Scott Synder
Penciller – Greg Capullo
Inker – Danny Miki
Colorist – Fco Plascencia
Letters – Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito
… you’re Batman. And you’re going to stop him. Just like you always do. You’re going to stop it all … – Batman
Gotham is in dire peril during the Batman: Endgame arc. Yes, even more so than usual. Part 1 of Endgame showed how the Joker removed all possibilities of backup by taking out the Justice League. The second part concludes as Joker reveals he’s been hiding in plain sight for years, and captures Batman in a cell of the recently abandoned Arkham Asylum while Gotham falls victim to a new Joker toxin infecting the entire city. Batman #37 (Part 3 of Endgame) begins with Bruce giving himself a pep talk while fighting a paralyzing agent administered by the Joker: “I’m the Batman. Everything will be okay.” Except it won’t be.
The creative team makes sure that readers comprehend that these are circumstances far beyond the Joker’s normal gags. The new Joker toxin is an airborne pathogen that turns people into violent, laughing maniacs without any control of their impulses. None of Batman’s nearly 100 cures work on this strain of the Joker toxin, and this is problematic since, as Bruce puts it, “A virus that spreads like laughter. Damn.” They are screwed. Fortunately, like any story about uncontrollable diseases, the Bat team is able to find out the location of patient zero, and the plan is to draw a blood sample in order to create an effective cure. That’s the last time we get any semblance of good news.
Commissioner Gordon updates Batman on the situation inside the city as he travels to Gotham Presbyterian (hospital) to find patient zero. Lawlessness has completely taken over because of the Joker zombies, and the federal government is threatening to quarantine the entire city with walls if the disease is not contained within a few hours. Batman hadn’t seen the chaos for himself but is visibly shaken and at a loss for words once he finally witnesses it himself.
Some people don’t know this but Scott Synder also writes comic books in the horror genre. American Vampire, Wytches, and The Wake are excellent horror series and Synder has found a way to successfully insert that formula into the world of Batman. This is a frightening book. Gotham Presbyterian is literally a house of horrors. Gordon researches the history of the hospital and learns about a series of unfortunate incidents and medical malpractice inside the wards. There is a surprising correlation in each case that is sure to change everything once it is fully explained. The impressive backstory that accompanies this issue only builds on this mystery. Explaining further would be a cataclysmic spoiler but know that this issue is a must-read for anyone who is remotely interested in the Batman mythos.
As always, the art team delivers at every level. The facial expressions, effective colors, dynamic panels, amazing uses of symmetry, and several other factors blew me away. The Endgame arc will almost certainly become a film in the future. There is a gargantuan amount of allusions to other works (including music) and layered metaphors that fans will be peeling back beyond the release of next month’s highly anticipated issue.
This is classic stuff. Buy this damn book! You won’t regret it.