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A few months ago the nearly year long maiden story arc for the “New 52” Batman title, The Court of Owls, wrapped up strong. So strong it left a lot of people, myself included, hungry for more. After a few filler issues, the next major story arc featuring none other than Batman’s greatest nemesis, The Joker, will kick-off. Should you be looking for an exciting new story to get into, here are five reasons to jump into the batmobile and take a trip to Gotham.
I’m not entirely sure how intentional this was on Scott Snyder’s part, but the title is clearly reminiscent of the pivotal 1980’s storyline “Death IN the Family”, in which Robin #2 (Jason Todd) is killed by the Joker. One can assume that being just one word off, we are going to see big things happen in this story involving the Bat-family. This would presumably include Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, and perhaps Catwoman. It would be a very bold move indeed to bump off or even critically injure one of these characters. People would be talking about it for years to come. If we don’t see anybody in a body bag or wheel chair or at least pretending to be dead and running off to a cafe in Italy sipping Fernet Brancas by the end of this, I’m gonna be disappointed. I think Snyder is going to give us one hell of a roller coaster ride. Speaking of Scott Snyder….
This young, hot-shot writer seems to do no wrong. His voice is pitch-perfect for Batman. In both The Court of Owls and 2010′s Batman: Black Mirror, Snyder keeps everything feel very cinematic and focused. Unlike other recent Batman story arcs, things don’t seem lost in a sea of continuity and inter-mingling characters and backstory. What he does that a lot of comic writers don’t is make the stories character driven instead of big event driven (cough MARVEL AvX cough). With Synder helming “Death of the Family”, we can expect a clear, refreshed take on the Joker. One that will heavily influence subsequent Joker stories.
Whew, where do I even start. I’m gonna open this by stating that I may be just a tad biased because this guy is my favorite active artist and one of my top three of all time. I’m in the process of snatching up as much of his previous work as I can, including Haunt, his creator owned book “The Creech”, and Spawn (yeah, I’m buying Spawn books, I like him that much). What Capullo does best is bring an awesome, gritty, energetic style to Batman and, like Snyder, a very cinematic feel to the visuals. All through Court of Owls, I kept thinking “Man, this could be a Nolan movie”. For my money, you can’t ask for too much more than that in a comic. If you are familiar with any of Capullo’s previous work, you can tell that he is more than capable of putting out some twisted, scary artwork. Naturally, it’s safe to say that he can give us one HELL of a scary looking Joker. He’s been slowly releasing teaser sketches on Twitter and from the little glimpses I’ve seen, it looks appropriately creepy. He is a great fit for this new, darker Joker.
In the first issue of “The New 52” Detective Comics, the Joker is captured by Batman, taken to Arkham Asylum where his face is subsequently cutoff by a new villain known as The Dollmaker and gruesomely pinned up on the wall like a paper mask. So….yeah. That should make for one hell of a starting point for Scott Snyder. However, I think it also makes for a big challenge. In the last few years, post The Dark Knight, Ledger-Joker, the character has taken on a much more sadistic horror-movie serial killer vibe as opposed to the classic “Clown Prince of Crime” persona. With this newer, ‘horror movie’ take on the character, I feel like a write can end up pigeonholed. Okay, he’s a mass murdering, sadistic, killer that takes great joy in killing people in terrible horrific ways, what else ya’ got? It’s this issue that I Scott Snyder will be so good at handling, and hopefully he’ll do something different that is still true to the spirit of the character. I’m expecting more than just some SAW-like torture porn.
My above concern aside, it is still The Joker, the most famous and arguably greatest comic-book villain of all time. Because he’s in such good hands with Snyder and Capullo, we are likely going to get a breath of fresh laughing gas (like we got with Ledger’s Joker). This team can provide a new angle on the character, with perhaps a new motivation that we haven’t really seen before, while still staying true to the malevolent spirit we know and love.
“Batman: Death of the Family” hits shelves Wednesday October 12th, and believe me that date can’t come soon enough.