Batman #13 Review: The Return of the Joker!

The Joker is back from his holidays. Gotham is about to get shaken to the core.

Comic: Batman #13Written By: Scott SnyderPencils By: Greg CapulloPublisher: DC ComicsRelease Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)

rating: 5

For this week forget the issue zeros. Forget multiple Robins and odd feeling face offs with Joe Chill. Forget rushed final lessons for Bruce Wayne to learn before putting on the cape and cowl. Forget any issues you have with the the DC Universe post the DC52 reboot. The Joker is back in Batman comics and he's getting straight to the punchline. For those who aren't aware, the start of this DC52 reboot saw the Joker having his face surgically removed. Why? We're not 100% sure yet but it's been a year without the clown prince of crime and now he's back. Gotham's rivers are overflowing, deformed lion cubs are being born and from the first moment you see Mr. J's foot step into a puddle outside of GCPD this feels like an genuine event. Scott Snyder keeps up his good work and plays with us all. He knows we've been itching for this moment. He knows how important the Joker is to the world of Batman and he knows how much of an event we all want this to be. He tells his story with a confidence rarely felt in modern comics and certainly not within the pages of DC comics. This feels like more than a film can ever offer up, this feels like a proper comic and when a comic works this well it celebrates the artform perfectly. Speaking of art, Greg Capullo takes his already great work and adds an even more cinematic feel to his style. Every frames seems constructed for impact and his pacing, that balances what we do and do not see is pitch perfect. As expected we do not really get to see the J0ker in this first issue. We see hands and shapes and shadows but this is really a series of seeing what he can do. It's highlights just how hands on he is here, snapping a precinct full of Gotham cops necks, letting a year long plan unfold a piece at a time and using the Joker toxin in all new devious ways. The writing of Jokers dialogue is a wonderful mix of funny (even taking a wonderful poke at Batman's recent problems with Owls) and extremely dark as Snyder lets us knows how hard hitting even the slightest mention of Barbara Gordon can be when dropped in at the right moment. Now what Joker is doing is still up for discussion. In fact given how little we see of him in this issue I'm still not entirely sure we're really seen him at all yet given his tricks and the unknown element that is his cut off face. Just having the Joker back in our comics somehow makes everything feel right again. It's not like Synder has had any problems with his lead Batman title over the last year or anything but having Joker around just seems to fix everything you may have any issues with. Amazingly Harley Quinn becomes every bit the Harley we love with just the slightest of connection with Joker. Sure her rocker girl make up is still a bad redesign but her vulnerability around Joker is felt here and when even she seems scared about his plans, you know that future issues are going to go somewhere mean. I could say that Batman falling for the old hidden mallet trick here let the almost perfection down a little bit but given the situation, I can put that down to tension. Snyder builds it and builds it and on the last two pages of the issue gives us what we want. A shock. A shock that demands a "oh no" to slip from your lips (or something a little more extreme). The Joker is back! DC Comics suddenly feels exciting all over again and I need the next part to this story NOW! As a little extra we get a mini Harley story at the back, showing us the events leading up to her working with Joker in this issue's main story. It's dark in a sort of Morrison Arkham Asylum way, with manic artwork and a full look at the Joker. Its not a story that will add a lot to the event but it captures the insanity in Jokers actions well and is a nice addition to what we've seen unfold in this first issue of Death of the Family.

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