Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
This is it! Joker’s triumphant return to Gotham City and the New 52. What a return it is! First up on Joker’s to do list is a trip to the Gotham Police Department, then off to kill the mayor, a trap at ACE Chemicals for Batman and then a surprise visit. What a busy few days for the Clown Prince of Crime.
Man! The scene at the police department is one if the creepiest things I’ve seen in a superhero comic as Joker shuts off the lights and proceeds to tell jokes while killing one officer after another. This was easily the highlight of the book. The way Capullo worked his way around the scene deserves a special mention here. The art here ratchets up the tension as the Joker picks apart Gotham’s finest. It almost felt like Ripley was in a room as her crew members were being taken out by the Alien. I would love to see this animated by Bruce Timm and company in the future. Before getting away of course the Joker has to snatch up his face from the evidence room.
The rest of the Bat Family furiously contacts Batman as news of the Joker’s return is getting around quickly. Next the Joker announces he will kill the mayor in a scene that is so Jokerific, as Batman starts to put together the pattern of the Joker recreating his first appearance in Gotham. Hats off to Snider for some good writing here bringing the Joker’s return to the New52 full circle with his first splash in Gotham. Of course the threat on the mayor is a distraction for his real target, a bunch of other cops. The way the Joker does this lets you know that not only is he the #1 psychopath in all of comics, he’s also a very brilliant one at that. A clue left behind in the chemical compound the Joker uses to dispatch Gordon’s men leads Batman to where it all began, ACE Chemicals.
However this is another misdirection which leads Batman into a trap sprung by a Harley Quinn who seems a bit disillusioned by this new Mr. J. Meanwhile the Joker makes a surprise visit to someone in the Bat Family.
Wow! Wow! Wow! We all knew the Joker was a sick dude, but Snider’s Joker has that sickness turned up past 10. Snider’s Joker would’ve made Heath Ledger (RIP) say “Daaaamn!”. I loved seeing Batman caught so off guard here too. For a guy who uses fear as his greatest weapon you get the sense here that the tables have turned and now Batman may be feeling that fear. Only one wacko can make Batman feel vulnerable and thats the Joker. One guy who definitely was is Commissioner Gordon. There was a scene where he’s talking to Batman at the Mayor’s residence and he had to put on a strong face. He was scared as hell, shaken to his core, but he had to look strong in the face of this threat for his men. Of course having your men picked off one by one in your own police station would tend to do that to a fellow. The way all the events of this issue play out was nothing short of brilliant. Absolute kudos to Scott Snider.
However Snider didn’t do it all by himself. His partner in crime with pencils Greg Capullo delivered some top notch art here. The subtle panels really hit home such as Gordon shaking off his fear and straightening up his tie as he goes on to deal with the madness at the mayor’s pad and the sadness on Harley Quinn’s face as she surrenders to the fact that this just isn’t the Mr. J she loves. Also every panel in the Joker’s invasion of G.C.P.D was handled with a brilliance that really helped to sell the melee.
Just when you thought the Owls arc would be hard to beat the Snider/Capullo duo up the ante even more. This was seriously the best issue of the entire New52 Batman run.
5 out of 5 nerds
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