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    “Endgame” Reaches its Finale in “Batman” #40 and Proves Why This is the Best Book on the Stands [Review]

    By | April 30th, 2015
    Posted in Reviews | 9 Comments

    As promised, the final chapter of “Endgame” is a shocking change to Batman’s status quo. “Batman” #40 is a brilliant issue, with Snyder, artist Greg Capullo, inker Danny Miki, and colorist FCO Plascencia working in perfect unison to create an epic finale with a thrilling mixture of complex character exploration, action, and impactful surprises.

    Written by Scott Snyder
    Illustrated by Greg Capullo

    The finale of “Endgame” is here! Batman risks everything against The Joker! Who will laugh last?

    The dynamic duo of Snyder and Capullo serve up their final chapter of the “Endgame” saga in “Batman” #40 on a platter overflowing with blood and emotion. Surprises abound, from an appropriate guest star (which is probably the only aspect of the book I haven’t seen spoiled online) to the final pages. The ending, although shocking, is not done in a titillating way. Both writer and artist have built a relationship with their audience and the book’s characters, making this issue that much more powerful. This is an intimate story where characters who are decades-old have been lovingly built over 40-plus issues into new (yet familiar), exciting, and ever-evolving individuals that we care deeply about.

    Snyder imbues Bruce Wayne with a humanity that comes out in nuanced and heartfelt ways. When he asks Penny-Two about the status of his other allies, she tells him that she has lost contact with them. Bruce pauses and then we get his inner monologue. He attempts to explain to himself the reasoning behind what he has done as he comes to the realization that his family may be dead. Reading his thoughts, we come to see a man who is truly conflicted and completely under siege by the greatest monster he has ever faced. The Joker has made Bruce doubt himself, doubt once-certain truths, take risks, and push himself to stay focused both mentally and physically. When we get to the end of the issue, Snyder has brought us on a journey of a man who has been pushed over the limit and run more ragged than he ever has before.

    Capullo’s inventiveness is evident in Batman and the Joker’s epic and deeply personal battle. He proves here and in the issue’s quieter moments why he is such a bold and dynamic artist. His art has great versatility and he has an exceptional ability to blend nuance throughout every panel. During my second reading, I noticed what the Joker does to Batman’s back during their bare-knuckle brawl. This scene proves that what can be depicted as simply a mundane fight in other artists’ hands is transformed into a dance for Capullo. That particular scene is just one of many graceful moves. Both hero and villain inflict damage to each other’s bodies that can only be described as artistic brutal brilliance.

    Attention must also be paid to the nuance Capullo brings to the characters’ facial expressions and body language. In one scene, the Joker views a development with uncharacteristic shock and despair on his wide-eyed grinning visage. Even a monster such as the Clown Prince of Crime is given a tinge of humanity. Credit must also be given to inker Miki for giving this particular facial expression the power that it so shockingly conveys on the page. Miki’s inks add deep creases and darkness to a man that is straining desperately to not turn that smile upside down.

    One example of Capullo’s attention to body language occurs in the beginning of the story and is another moment that, once again, I had missed during my first reading. The movement of this particular character is such a vital element of their style and will be an obvious clue to many close readers. Capullo brings these Gotham denizens to life with a complete lack of homogeneity and never a lackluster moment. Batman crouching through a tunnel and carefully exploring its contents is such a simple scene but difficult to convey with such natural fluidity. The emotion of Snyder’s story inspires Capullo to match that complexity of character in every aspect of his art.

    Once Capullo and Miki have completed their work, then it’s the job of Plascencia to work wonders with his colors. The word inventive, yet again, must be mentioned and applied to Plascencia’s color palette. Bright, at times neon, colors clash to great effect against the backdrop of such vile and brutal actions. Neon pink, purple, and yellow color the sky during the issue’s opening act while Batman’s allies (and enemies) attempt to subdue the Joker. The theatricality of the colors add tension to the pages and make us feel discomfort. It’s terrifying to think that possibly tragic results from this battle could be lit up with such gorgeous colors. During the other, more personal battle between hero and foe, Plascencia uses the iconic red and green (but not purple) of the Joker to epic effect. Roiling green waters illuminate occasional panels while a deep red enhances the brutality of a bloody battle and the iconic Joker playing cards that are thrown with precision.

    Continued below

    The main conceit behind “Batman” #40 is the idea of Batman as an inspirational deity. During the entirety of “Endgame” and in this finale, we got to see a man who put his detective skills and highly honed physical and mental abilities to their furthest limit. Snyder has successfully shown that although Batman is inspirational, he has not lost his humanity. Even the Joker, with Capullo deserving much of the credit as well, has been made into a character with human characteristics such as fear and despair.

    “Endgame” and this issue in particular would not be such a resounding success if not for the combined talents of Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia. They all bring Gotham City to vibrant life as a cohesive team. These creators put out the best book on the stands with each successive issue. This issue is an amalgamation of every aspect of what makes this a perfect series.

    Final Verdict: 10.0 – Every ingredient in this issue, from Snyder’s writing to Steve Wands’ letters, comes together to express the power and possibility of the art form that is comics.

    Keith Dooley

    Keith Dooley lives in sunny Southern California and has Bachelors and Masters Degrees in English literature. He considers comic books the highest form of literature and has declared them the Great American Art Form. He has been reading comics since age eight and his passion for comic books and his obsession for Batman knows no bounds. If he isn’t reading or writing about comics, he’s usually at the gym or eating delectable food. He runs the website Comics Authority with his fiancé Don and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.


    • Old Man Brian

      Your review is spot on. Great issue and ending to a great story. More importantly, this is just an incredibly well crafted comic book from every creator on the credits. My only concerns have nothing to do with this issue or how it ended, but where does it all go from here? With this team still on the book, there’s probably no real reason for concern though.

    • Joshistory

      Fantastic issue. I loved the cameo you mentioned. Next step is to read Endgame all over again in one sitting. Maybe squeeze Death of the Family in there too.

      After all, both stories ended with the exact same final word.

    • It’s been a fantastic journey following this book and watching the team grow, I took a while to really warm up to the work, court of owls and DotF were good but didn’t set my world alight post-Morrison. Zero year became something quite unique though and Endgame has absolutely knocked it out of the park, especially this finale… A deserved 10

    • Jacen Chris Baker

      This book has been excellent for so long, it’s almost tired to say it’s excellent now. I never grow tired of this team and how they are so in tune with one another.

      Are we at a point that we can say that the Snyder/Capullo team is one of the best in modern comics history? Can we slot them next to Brubaker/Phillips, Bendis/Bagley, and Morrison/Quitely?

      • Keith Justin Dooley

        We can unequivocally say that they are one of the best teams in modern history. It’s a shame neither one of them received an Eisner nomination this year.

        • Jacen Chris Baker

          I think by the time Team Batman hits #50 (which is where Capullo’s current deal ends), we can slot them next to Neal/Adams in the pantheon of Batman creative teams. It’s insane for one team to have this kind of run now in an era where artists draw 3 issues before taking 4 off.

    • The real question is…Is Batman going to wear an eyepatch when he comes back?

    • After going back and reading the whole arc again I noticed that when Joker hits Batman with the paralytic gas he mentions that the gas is “part one of a combo, a pair”, but then this is never mentioned again.

      Maybe Batman was already dosed with the Joker’s immortality serum and this will be how he turns out to be alive later? That…or this was just another weird disconnected moment in the arc that I’m making too much of.

      Actually noticed a few times where it felt like pages were missing. References made to specific scenes that we were never shown and all that. Anyone else notice that?

    • Newshound24

      I don’t mind Joker constantly coming back from the dead as long as it’s plausible, but writers and editors at DC have been giving the Joker ‘plot armor’ for WAY too long. I get that he’s important to them, but the way they have him constantly portrayed as invincible, ingenious and unstoppable is just getting ridiculous.

      Him finding a ‘healing pool’ at least made his regenerations plausible this time out, but the number of times they’ve depicted him falling to his death, or getting blown up, or otherwise killed, then coming back with no explanation… it was cute at first. Now it’s just LAZY.

      I mean, Alfred had a freaking SHOTGUN while Joker had a cleaver. By all rights, Alfred could have blown off each and every one of his limbs, blasted open his ribcage and danced all over his entrails before Joker could even get close enough to take a swipe at him. Instead they have Joker chop off Alfred’s hand while Alfred stands there and lets it happen. And why? Because the writers are using a different font for his word balloons now?

      I know they’re comic books, but please. At least put SOME effort into it. Having him smarter and tougher than the Justice League? Then shrugging it all off by saying ‘Oh it’s a NEW Joker venom’? You writers and editors are just being vainglorious dolts, living out fanfiction/fanboy dreams and projecting how tough you want to make them in your own minds. It’s like the new writers and editors are thinking they made up the characters, so they’re going all ‘Mary Sue’ with them by just saying ‘Well, the characters are tougher than everybody ELSE now because we’re writing them!’

      There has to be a certain level of plausibility in order for readers to have the critical ‘Willful Suspension of Disbelief’, and their constant fawning over the Joker (ooooh, look how scary WE made him this time) is starting to grate. They’ve turned the Joker from a plausible, regular villain and turned him into just another silly horror movie villain like Jason or Freddy Krueger with an endless parade of steadily more ridiculous sequels.

      Sorry to be the negative nabob, but it seems I’m one of the only ones left who thinks the current trend among writers and editors to put ‘their’ stamp on a comic book franchise is not a good thing.