Batman #13 marks the beginning of “Death of the Family,” Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s take on Batman’s oldest foe, The Joker. Taking place one year after the Harlequin of Hate’s last appearance, Joker is back in Gotham and he has an ax to grind with the whole Bat family. Though Joker is one of the villains most creative teams like to take a shot at, few have succeeded in creating such an intense, and frankly terrifying set up for what could be the next great Joker story.
The book opens to Commissioner Gordon and Det. Harvey Bullock on the roof of the Gotham City Police Department discussing bad omens. These omens turn out to be accurate as soon as Gordon returns inside. After a brief power outage, Gordon catches a glimpse of a faceless Joker leering at him across the room before the lights go out again, and that’s where the fun begins.
Scott Snyder does an amazing job of writing Joker in a way the reader will feel familiar while simultaneously introducing a morbid, more up close and personal interpretation of the Joker. Not only is he psychologically destroying his victims anymore, Joker is getting his hands dirty this time around. Snyder also does a great job of keeping Joker close to his roots as the issue makes references to his origins, methods and even his first kills.
Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion fail to disappoint in this issue. They create a great balance of suspenseful and gruesome visuals that perfectly fits Snyder’s writing. Readers can feel the fear on Commissioner Gordon’s face; Batman’s anger slowly building up, and the overwhelming terror that comes with every Joker appearance, especially in the last page revealing his new “face-mask” look.
The backup if this issue, “Tease”, written by Snyder and “Talon” writer James Tynion IV, depicts Joker interacting with Harley Quinn in a manner that even Quinn finds uncomfortable. This six-page scene is the ideal backup. It provides background information to readers as well as adding to the main story. The art by Jock, who has previously worked with Snyder on “Batman: The Black Mirror” is superb, creating a strong sense of suspense and tension between the two.
Batman #13 is an amazing introduction. Snyder’s writing and Capullo’s art sync into perfect harmony that launches one of the most intense and terrifying Joker arcs yet. “Death of the Family” has potential, and it is starting strong.
The Clown Prince of Crime is back, and nobody is safe.
[Written by contributor Marco Villalpando]