Review by Paul Bowler
This is it! Batman #40, the finale of Endgame, is here! Gotham City is in chaos, Jokerized mobs of the infected are everywhere, and the Clown Prince of Crimes ghoulish carnival now parades through the streets. With his ability to heal the Joker is more dangerous than ever. Batman must risk everything as he fights the Joker in the midst of Gotham’s madness, but there is still one last laugh to be had. Is this really the final end..?
Endgame has been Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s major story event for Batman’s 75th anniversary and it’s proved to be their most ambitious, darkest, and epic Bat-Saga so far. The Joker’s return has challenged the Dark Knight like never before. The Joker’s new toxin has not only turned Gotham’s citizens into a cackling army of lunatics, a chemical in the toxin has also given him uncanny regenerative powers, and its even possible that Batman’s greatest enemy could well be immortal! Now, while Batman’s allies and old enemies fight side by side against the infected, Batman must confront the Joker and save Gotham City, whatever the cost…
Batman #40 plunges us right into the thick of the action as Batman and his allies battle their way through the Jokerized hordes of the infected to reach the Joker. The plan seems to be straightforward enough. Batman must defeat the Joker, obtain a sample of his spinal fluid, and synthesize a cure for the virus. Although Batman took down the Justice League after they were infected with the virus, that’s nothing compared to what the Dark Knight faces here. While the Joker wickedly dances with warped effigies from Bruce’s past, a helping hand at a crucial moment enables Batman to glide over the crowds of the infected to face the Joker.
The way Scott Snyder manages to keep our nerves jangling as Batman confronts the Joker is ingenious to say the least. Snyder completely blindsides us with the deafening intensity of Joker’s counter-strike, it’s horrifically staged, gnawing into the gut as it uncovers our eyes, and it really pulls you into the finale of Endgame in a way that leaves you completely unprepared for what comes next just as it seems all is lost.
Greg Capullo’s art for Batman #40 is his best ever on the series. This issue looks amazing! From the opening flashback to that defining moment of Joker’s origin at ACE Chemicals, through to the Joker’s warped parade with some of Batman’s most iconic trophies, and the raging carnage unfolding around Batman’s allies and enemies as they fight alongside each other against such impossible odds, is all just a taste of what awaits as Endgame moves towards its grand finale. Danny Miki’s excellent inks sublimely enhance the finer details of Capullo’s art, and FCO Plascencia’s vivid colors magnificently highlight the intensity and tone of every scene.
As we descend into the dark depths of Gotham for the final battle, it is here that Snyder and Capullo engineer the ultimate showdown between Batman and the Joker! The fateful symmetry created here as elements from Zero Year and Death of The Family entwine inexorably with the overarching narrative of Endgame, adds a magnificent twist to the speculations over the Joker’s apparent immortality, when a truth that cannot lie sets the stage for Gotham’s salvation in a fight where the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime each get to play their final cards – but who will have the last laugh? This is the moment that Endgame was always going to boil down to; it’s bloody, savage, and so viciously dark that it will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page…
So, to those finale pages then… It’s not exactly the question of the Joker’s immortality that dominates the conclusion to Endgame, or even the resolution to the fight itself, insomuch as the way the focus shifts towards what Alfred perceives as Batman’s own immortality. As Alfred slowly comes to terms with his injuries – losing his hand after the Joker broke into the Bat-Cave and attacked him – he must now contemplate the future as the legacy of the Dark Knight presents a cryptic coda in Endgames final moments as dawn rises over Gotham City.
With Endgame, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have seamlessly blended all the major elements and characters from their tenure so far. The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, and Zero Year have all been fantastic story arcs in their own right. Endgame manages to eclipse them all as Snyder aligns everything in the anarchic totality of Batman #40 where the face-off between the Batman and the Joker finally reaches its shattering conclusion.
As the major events in Batman #40 bring Endgame to a close, there are some big changes ahead for Batman following DC Comics game-changing, all encompassing universe and timeline epic Conversion event. Snyder’s fifth year in Gotham will introduce a whole new era and see the debut of an All New Batman! We’ve already seen teasing images of the Bat-Bot / Robo-Suit, its certainly got social media buzzing and divided some opinions, and there’s also the highly intriguing prospect of a brand new villain as well. Its a bold move to do something so radically different, however, I have complete faith in Snyder, Capullo, and the entire Bat-Team to deliver something that will totally blow any doubts and preconceptions out the water.
Batman #40 provides a fittingly epic, brutal, and dark finale to Endgame. I think Endgame has been one of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s finest story arcs so far. Now the scene is set for the next era of the Dark Knights legacy to begin and I can’t wait to see what Snyder and Capullo have in store for us next!