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.