Batman #15: The Greatest Joker Story Ever Told?
There ain’t nothing like a Joker party ‘cause a Joker party don’t stop!
It’s the truth. Once Joker decides to have a little soiree, he doesn’t stop until everybody is either dead or wishes they were. Batman #15, another issue in the continuing push writer Scott Snyder is doing to re-create one of the Dark Knight’s most feared villains, is the Joker’s twisted invitation to the ball. What does the party entail? Who will have to die to make the party work? That hand has yet to be shown but fear not, Batman #15 has plenty of surprises.
To really drink in the full power of the Joker in the New 52, you have to let go all you know about the character. Not his face, not his laughter or sadistic tendencies, but rather the stories, the personality traits and the over-the-top gimmicks. Snyder has stripped all that away and left only the purist form of evil. To put it in movie terms, Batman is Dr. Loomis and Joker is Michael Myers staring back at him with “The blackest eyes, the Devil’s eyes”.
Batman #15 opens with one of the best splash pages in recent memory. It’s a simple page, all black with the Joker’s demonic face, but between the staggering art from Greg Capullo and Snyder’s powerful words, it paints a picture of the Joker that is more horrifying than what we’ve seen before. Past the splash page, we continue the confrontation on the bridge. Batman is helpless, bound up by the Joker he must watch as his nemesis attempts to poison the water supply.
The cavalry in the form of GCPD attempts a rescue, but they fail at the hands of Joker’s men and some well-placed rocket launchers. Here’s where we get the flipside of the opening splash page. When the explosions start, Capullo and Snyder give us a full page of Batman crashing through the flames and beating up Joker. If darkness reflects Joker’s true nature, then Batman crashing through the fire to stop his enemy shows his.
Unfortunately, the beating is halted by a bit of Joker’s venom and a swift kick that sends Batman into the water unconscious. When he wakes, the Dark Knight is confronted by his Bat-family and some rather uncomfortable truths are revealed. One of the biggest lies uncovered in issue 15 is that Joker has been forcing the guards at Arkham to pretend everything is fine while he’s secretly taken over. Sure, it’s a bit of stretch, but with this new Joker, you almost believe there’s nothing he can’t do. As always, Capullo and Snyder leave you breathless for the next issue.
Capullo’s art continues to be outstanding. Besides his strong line work and ease with both shading and movement, his breadth of imagination is boundless. Take his Joker – it’s easily one of the greatest renditions of the Clown Prince of Crime ever rendered. The Joker is my all time favorite comic book villain, so I become unbearably picky when artists draw him. I only have five favorites. Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Darwyn Cooke, Jock, Brian Bolland, and now Greg Capullo. His work since joining the Batman team has been nothing short of jaw dropping.
"Death Of The Family" is one of the greatest Joker stories ever told. It belongs up there with The Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum, The Man Who Laughs, The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge or Death In The Family. An absolute classic.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)