BATMAN #38
Author: John Bierly (Follow @JOHNBIERLY)
January 29, 2015

SYNOPSIS:

In BATMAN #37, writer Scott Snyder and the art brigade captained by Greg Capullo took a question Ra's Al Ghul once asked Bruce Wayne and applied it to The Joker.

Is the Crown Prince of Crime immortal? Or are his methods...supernatural?

If you read issue #38 one way, the answer is yes. Read it another, and the answer is perhaps. Read it yet another, and the answer is yes all over again, only this time swapping "scientific" for "supernatural."

Maybe.

Regardless of the answer, Crazy Quilt is heavily involved, so you know Jett's going to love it!

I loved it, too, from the first page onward, as multiple fates teased in issue #37 are revealed. We find out the resolution of Jim Gordon's tussle with The Joker (it's bad), the nature of the virus The Joker has unleashed on Gotham (it's bad), and the ultimate solution Batman arrives at in absence of a viable plan (it's THE WORST). And all of it happens in trademark Snyder style, with science and lore expertly laid out in the most interesting and imaginative ways possible.


BATMAN #38 Cover

The art meshes with the manuscript with its usual magnificence; a simple page of panels depicting The Joker taking a leisurely swim is good for about 47 lifetimes of nightmares, while the rest of the book's actions and emotions are rendered with equal energy by Capullo's brawny pencils beneath the perfection of FCO Plascencia's colors and the precision of Danny Miki's inks.

James Tynion's backup continues to follow an Arkham doctor "recruited" by some of her patients for a mission into Gotham's belly that's leading them to a place The Joker wants them to find. What, or where, is "the truth" they seek? The twisted fairy tale aspects create a fantastic playground for Sam Kieth's appropriately exaggerated pencils and Ronda Pattison's gorgeous colors.

Much of this issue reminds me of Snyder's earliest days on DETECTIVE COMICS, during which he cast Gotham City as a "Black Mirror" that knows you better than you know yourself. The same is true of The Joker, and there's great terror in the story's notion that The Joker isn't simply something that is but rather something that has always been. I'm sure there will be more to it by the story's end; with Snyder, there always is. But until we know what's really going on, I remain utterly enthralled. - John Bierly

GRADE: A+

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.


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