Writer – Scott Synder
Penciller – Greg Capullo
Inker – Danny Miki
Colorist – Fco Plascencia
Letterers – Steve Wands and Jared K. Fletcher
“The fact is… I don’t have a plan yet. I don’t know what to do. These are uncharted waters.” – Batman
True indeed, Batman. Gotham is hitting levels of destruction unseen since the beautiful city of Metropolis took a beating during the fight between Superman and Zodd in Man of Steel.
Part 4 of the Endgame arc sets the stage for a reality we have rarely seen: Batman is about to lose. But this loss wouldn’t just mean a regular run of the mill act being executed by the Joker. Gotham is dying. Batshit stuff occurs on every page. This is the short list of the chaos from the first scene.
- Nearly every citizen of the city has turned into a violent, laughing Joker zombie with a strong urge to kill Batman or anyone who happens to be within eyesight.
- The Joker was shot in the chest by Commissioner Gordon in the final pages of Batman #37, but he somehow managed to survive the shot, stab Gordon in the chest with an ax, and disappear without a trace.
- A dying Gordon suddenly turns into a Joker zombie and attacks Batman with the ax that was inside his chest one page earlier.
- Oh yeah, the Joker knows Batman’s true identity (almost seems like a throwaway detail considering all the other stuff happening).
Batman 38 runs at a brisk pace, throwing a new shock at readers every few pages. You keep asking yourself, “How is any of this happening?” but you never feel led astray. If anything, the jaw-dropping ending let’s readers of this current run that the Scott Synder has been planning this for years.
The critically acclaimed art team continues to blow expectations of out of the water. Every moment feels dynamic and no panel is wasted. The creepy page of the Joker deep diving in a black swimsuit is already an instant classic. Simple stuff with color makes moments stand out in cinematic ways (see the black and white start of Batman’s conversation with Dick Grayson atop a water tower). The faces drawn by Capullo really tell the story; it is totally possible to give a grasp of what’s happening with reading a word. There is also a well executed focus on symmetry that we don’t see very often in comics being used during the Endgame arc. Batman 37 pulled this trick off with action and color. Batman 38 utilizes the same technique to help readers understand the mystery solved by Batman and Nightwing.
It is impossible to talk about this book without ruining why it has become an instant collector’s item, soon to be heralded as one of the most important single issues in Batman history. Turns out Batman doesn’t know the Joker as well as he thought he did. Now he has to swallow his pride, as well as his morals, to save Gotham.
Batman #39 can’t come soon enough.