This is the thing nightmares are made of, and “Batman #13″ is Scott Snyder at his very best.
DC’s New 52 relaunch last year got everyone talking, but as the issues came out month after month, interest in some titles waned — except for “Batman.”
In the first story arc, readers saw Batman take on the Court of Owls, an age-old group bent on destroying the Bat. People loved it, I loved it. It introduced a new and fresh villain that posed a serious threat not only to Bruce Wayne, but to his entire Bat family. It concluded just a couple months ago, and I honestly couldn’t think writer Snyder and artist Greg Capullo could do any better.
I was wrong, and I say that with such a big smile on my face.
“Batman #13″ kicks off the “Death of the Family” storyline, in which the Joker makes his return after a year-long absence from Gotham. This time, Joker is taking care of business himself with such an increased level of vileness and villainy that I can’t think of the last time he was this bad.
Oh, wait, yeah I can, back in Alan Moore’s classic “The Killing Joke.”
And it’s that novel that inspires Snyder and Capullo, and propels them and the story with a violent push forward.
That’s not to say they’re mimicking Moore’s story, but they are harking back to when writers and artists (and, I guess DC) weren’t afraid to make Joker the embodiment of evil.
The Joker returns to Gotham and begins playing on Commissioner Jim Gordon’s fears, which carries over into everyone in the Bat family: Bruce, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon, whom Joker paralyzed in “The Killing Joke”), Red Robin and Nightwing. The only character who doesn’t get the severity of the issue is Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son who is also his sidekick, Robin. Damian thinks, “Oh, you’ve put him away before, you can easily do it again,” but Bruce warns him Joker isn’t the kind of villain to be lackadaisical about.
Batman, being the detective he is, follows clues that lead him to what he believes is a confrontation with the Joker. But, gotcha!, Bruce has only stepped into a trap, lured away from Wayne Manor, leaving Alfred unprotected.
But Bruce had no idea Joker would go after Alfred, and by the end of the issue, he still doesn’t know that was Joker’s plan. And as we see Joker’s plan unfurl, we cringe.
Snyder and Capullo have resurrected the Joker, and they’re telling the story through wonderful dialogue, character interaction and settings. This creative team is one of the best to be put on a Batman title in a long, long time, and as terrified as I am to see what the Joker holds in store for the Bat family, I must admit I’m incredibly eager for it.