Sunday, February 15, 2015

Batman #38 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

First things first, Snyder isn't drawing draw out the mystery at the heart of this arc.  All those hints about Joker existing throughout time last issue aren't just going to linger in the background for a half-dozen issues while we try to guess where Snyder's going with them.  Instead, he gets right to the point:  the Joker appears to be an immortal being, and he has Paul Dekker, a former lab partner of Dr. Death, use his blood to synthesize a virus that decays bodies as quickly as his body heals.  Lest you say, "But, Batman has sampled his blood umpteen times!" Dekker informs us that the substance -- called "dionesium" -- appears only when the body suffers catastrophic damage.  (Snyder is definitely winking at us here.  We now know how the Joker survived that helicopter crash at the end of "Batman:  A Death in the Family" and, well, every death ever.)  Everyone in Gotham suddenly has less than 24 hours to live, and Bruce has to seek out the Court of Owls to, as he says, "talk about history."  (Also, Bruce knows now that the Joker knows his identity.  We sort of just move past that point, because we really already have all four burners working.)

The fact that Snyder gets the mystery itself on the table so early implies that he has a lot planned for this arc.  It's not like "Death of the Family," where we had to spend countless issues just trying to guess whether the Joker knew his identities; in other words, we were trying to guess whether the mystery was actually a mystery.  This time, we've got everything on the table, and it's exciting.  Now, it's entirely possible that Joker isn't an immortal being.  It's not like Dekker is playing with a full deck; the Joker could've synthesized the compound on his own, injected himself with it, and then convinced Dekker that his delusional belief that this compound existed in nature was actually true.  Moreover, it's possible that he found some clever way to Photoshop himself into generations worth of photos; I mean, if he can create an immortality serum, he can probably use Photoshop well.  But, Snyder definitely seems to be staking out the territory that the Joker may actually be immortal.  I really didn't see that coming.

Moreover, we see Bruce isolated here, not because he's isolating his allies, but because they're losing hope.  Snyder's run on "Batman" has been all about his incompetence, but we see a glimmer here of the man that inspires his allies, not one that disappoints them.  Dick and Julia are overwhelmed by the power of the Joker's position.  As Dick says, Gotham has a deadly virus, the Joker is immortal, and he knows Bruce's identity.  It's not a great hand.  Sure, Bruce admits that he doesn't yet have a plan.  But, we finally have the hope that he may have one soon, because he's willing to do the unthinkable -- consult with the Court -- to get one.  That's the man that may inspire the Family to re-form (particularly if he eventually apologizes for being wrong about the Joker knowing his identity).  That's just as exciting as the mystery of the Joker's "immortality."  I'd be pretty happy if we end this arc with a competent Bruce and intact family...assuming, you know, everyone survives.

**** (four of five stars)

No comments:

Post a Comment