Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Batman #13 Review

By J. Skyler
October 11, 2012 - 00:20

Scott Snyder’s return of the Joker in Batman: Death of the Family is probably the most anticipated comic book event of the year, and his first issue of the storyline, “Knock Knock”, in Batman #13 does not disappoint. Snyder’s narrative in the issue’s opening pages reads like something out of classic American literature. So much so, that I felt the same way I did divulging into assigned reading for English 1A. Greg Capullo’s artwork is equally compelling throughout the issue. Even when you know you’re looking at the Joker for the first time, despite an inability to see his face and the minimalist nature of the panel, there is still a chill that runs down your spine, because as recent cinematography like Paranormal Activity or Insidious prove, sometimes suspense can be much more terrifying than what’s right in front of you.

Snyder turns the Joker into a much more physically imposing character in the first few pages, not in terms of size, but by altering his modus operandi. While the Joker has historically committed murder using his special brand of toxins, gadgets, or in the case of Batman: A Death in the Family (1988), something as simplistic as a crowbar, the fact that his willing to get “straight to the point” so to speak by using his hands as lethal weapons shows an entirely new sadistic streak for the character, as Batman observes. He, along with Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl and above all, Commissioner Gordon, are all horrified at the Joker’s reappearance in Gotham after a year-long absence. The only character not concerned is Robin, the juvenile Damien Wayne, who has not yet had the pleasure of experiencing the Joker’s madness first-hand.

When Christopher Nolan agreed to direct the revival of the Batman film franchise, he did so with the explicit rule that supporting characters like Robin and Batgirl would not be introduced, choosing instead to focus on Batman’s career and iconography as a stand-alone vigilante. As our own Alexander Jones pointed out, a common attitude among readers (one that I share to an extent) is that the overwhelming number of supporting characters in the Batman mythos, even in the midst of The New 52 is a hindrance. Snyder, through the Joker’s twisted mind, takes that viewpoint in the most sinister way possible, as the Joker implies that his return to Gotham is for the sole purpose of killing off every single one of Batman’s allies. In doing so, he will be able to take Batman back to a point in time when he was seemingly invincible, a time when he did not rely upon the aid of others. That way, he and Batman can play, “like old times.”

As an added bonus, we see a disillusioned but nonetheless devoted Harley Quinn. Although she is normally more than enthusiastic about participating in her lover’s schemes, even she is terrified of him now, warning Batman “he’s not my Mr. J anymore.” Her attitude proves, this isn’t just a joke, and it isn’t merely a game, this is a Joker no one has ever seen before. If “Knock Knock” is any indication, Death of the Family will be a graphic novel people will be taking about for years to come.

Rating: 10 /10

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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