PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

The highly-anticipated sequel to the acclaimed Death of the Family storyline, Batman’s archenemy The Joker has returned after his long disappearance. For many years, he regarded Batman with a sick, twisted love, thinking that one could never exist without the other, and last time he struck, he tried to prove this by killing Batman’s family. But thanks to Batman’s rejection, that's all changed now. Now the Clown Prince of Crime is done playing; he now hates Batman and is determined to kill him, and he's going to do it using those who Batman loves the most, including the entire Bat-Family and the Justice League. With the outbreak of a deadly viral outbreak and nowhere left to run, Batman is now determined to put an end to The Joker’s final joke once and for all, even if it means costing his own life.

Many superb writers have always explored the dichotomy between Batman and Joker in great and memorable detail over the years, like Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Paul Dini and Frank Miller. What Scott Snyder did with it in the Death of the Family storyline was unique and played up to the villain’s psychology and strengths, and with Endgame Snyder tries to take that relationship in a new light, showing that Joker has now gone from “loving” to hating Batman. This is heavily highlighted through Joker’s dialogue and his extremely violent (and gory) approach to Batman and his allies, whereas before he was just attacking them psychologically. This plays up more to The Joker’s murderous side, and the gruesome acts he performs wouldn’t look to out of place in a slasher film, particularly in the climactic showdown. Like in Death of the Family, the characterisation of The Joker is masterful and definitely has flashes of Mark Hamill’s iconic portrayal; his scarred face and demonic body language make him a more frightening figure than ever, and this is all down to Greg Capullo’s stunning artwork that looks weirdly unsettling whenever Joker comes into panel.

What’s brilliant about Joker is that he’s a complete enigma and his origins are steeped in mystery, yet like Batman he’s human without any superpowers. However, with Endgame, Snyder tries to give him a seemingly definitive supernatural origin story that sadly conflicts things by giving Joker superpowers. He’s centuries old, immortal and cannot be killed now! This is Joker, not Ra’s al Ghul! Yes, it’s all implied and will certainly be immediately retconned sooner rather than later, yet it’s better for this “immortal angle” to have been left out completely. Also, the resolutions to the problems Batman encounters throughout the storyline involving the Justice League and the Court of Owls are never properly explored and are all resolved quickly off panel.

If Endgame is indeed the end to Snyder and Capullo's Joker story, then this saga ended on a surprising note. While the scenes that focused on Batman's other sidekicks and villains are underdeveloped, its focus on the Batman/Joker rivalry is certainly an enthralling read. With the writing solid (for the most part) and the artwork beautiful, the creators have successfully painted an unsettling, bloody and very dramatic portrait of two old enemies locked in one last, desperate battle for the fate of Gotham, even if it ultimately isn’t the strongest of Joker stories.



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