Saturday, May 31, 2014

[New 52] Batman by Scott Snyder issue #13

I first read the entire "return of the Joker" crossover event in the thicker collection that included all the tie-ins, and I was quite pleased about it. I, however, knew I missed out a couple of issues from Snyder's own line-up and that included this issue which picked up right after Batman's confrontation with the Court of Owls and the Talons that ended rather anti-climatically. The pacing of this story had a briskness to it that created enough tension and action that will make a reader definitely look forward for the next installment. But if you're an avid Batman fan like me, and the Joker is your most favorite villain, then the excitement is much more palpable for you already.

The issue opens with something akin to Shakespearean. It reminded me of the first few scenes in Julius Caesar where two non-supporters were discussing about the 'omens' of a dark reign to come and they blamed it all on Caesar's possible ascension as emperor of Rome.

In this case, a conversation between Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock sets up the tone and atmosphere for what's to come--including the bad weather and its nonstop downpour. Bullock mentions that a two-headed lion was born and other weird stuff, and they seem to be ominous signs which is something any Gothamite knows better than to take lightly.

AND THE JOKER SHOWS UP. DIM THE LIGHTS AND CUE THE MUSIC OF TERROR. The entire thing happened so fast that it takes too long for not just Gordon to react but also myself as a reader. The next few scenes were a daze of unpredictable deaths that are befitting of the Joker; the man always had this razor-sharp crackle of electricity--and you knew, just knew, that he will leave devastation on his path. His grand return to Gotham is particularly hard on everyone in the Bat-family but not exclusively so, because Jim Gordon is just as deeply affected (refer to The Killing Joke for this). But ever-confident Damian isn't worried because this is one Robin the Joker hasn't touched--yet.

Page after page, the Joker immediately plays mind games and massacre with a serious intent, with Batman getting closer and yet still managing to be one step behind. We see Harley Quinn in this issue, and even the Joker's number one fan and partner in crime is shaking her head, claiming he's not the same man she loved. So just when you think he's not dark enough, he unbelievably blackens that shade with a few more strokes and tricks up his sleeve. It all boils down to a cliffhanger that was rather chilling. It's frighteningly obvious that this Joker has no laughs to spare and more driven to slice his way through the innards. There may be small moments of blissful randomness in his ploys like the Clown Prince that he is, but something sinister has come back from the grave as well which seemed to make the Joker more of a precision instrument ready to cut right into the most sensitive nerve he could possibly find in Batman.

Getting back his torn-up face and sense of style, this Joker is on a personal mission; and he doesn't look like he's even half-joking anymore. Determined in his quest to repair Batman because he perceives him as getting soft, the Joker has orchestrated a masterpiece: to get rid of the very family that to him weakened Batman's resolve and purpose. 

And he knows exactly which one of Batman's family he's going to start with first...


* A promising start for a crazy ride ahead.

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