In Review: Batman #37

This would have been much better had the final pages been deleted or placed in another book.

The covers: A trio symbolizing this third chapter of this Endgame epic. The Main cover is by interior artists Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Fco Plascencia. The Joker has got a new face and he couldn’t be happier, showing it off as he holds his old one. A simple idea made fantastic by the use of blacks. The first Variant is by Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson. This one is a shocker as it looks to be revisiting the iconic Death in a Family storyline: Robin is strung up and the Joker is beating the tar out of him with a crowbar. Batman is bursting through a window to save his sidekick, but that amount of blood says he’s too late. Again, a nice image made excellent through coloring, great purples, and terrific point of view. The final Variant is by Darwyn Cooke, and this is why I bought this book. I haven’t been thrilled with the direction of Batman since the New 52 began, but I’ve loved Cooke’s variant covers on other books, and upon seeing this one I had to have it. It’s a gigantic image of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, with a tiny caped crusader entering the mouth of a gigantic Joker, which is surrounded by several of his infamous villains. Catwoman pushed me over the top to pick this up. The coloring is great, with the rusted colors giving it a nightmarish feel. Overall grades: Main A, Variant Kubert A-, and Variant Cooke A+

The story: There’s a virus sweeping through Gotham and Batman has been exposed. It causes people to go homicidal with bugged out eyes and smiles on their faces. This issue by Scott Snyder opens with Bruce willing himself to heal. He does so (Duh, he’s Batman!), and asks Julia and Alfred to see what they’ve learned. It’s spread through coughing, spitting, or–wait for it–laughing. The disease is resistant to any cure they have, it’s essentially the Joker’s masterpiece. The first case came from Gotham Presbyterian and that’s where Batman’s going to go to find Patient Zero and, hopefully, get a cure. On the way, via some very cool transport, he talks to Gordon, who’s in lockdown in his home. I found myself enjoying more of what was happening to the commissioner than Batman’s exploits in the hospital. There’s a psychological component to this virus that the heroes haven’t discovered until this issue. In fact, Snyder leaves the reader to wonder what’s real and what’s not until the final panel as one hero is in major trouble. A good action issue with the most infamous of villains really messing with his foil. The final eight pages are “The First Laugh” by James Tynion IV. It deals with a doctor and a patient in Arkham Asylum after the virus has been released. It gives the story of one inmate and how his past involves the Joker. After getting a story by Snyder, I would rather DC have dropped these pages and the cover price by a buck. Substandard and uninvolving. Overall grade: B-

The art: There is no denying that penciller Greg Capullo and inker Danny Miki are creating magic. Everything they’ve done on this book looks amazing. The opening shot of Bruce fighting the madness is intense. Batman’s flight to the hospital gorgeous, with that splash on Page 7 the perfect realization of chaos. His fight in the hospital is great. The highlight is what happens to Gordon. Those pages had a much stronger effect on me because he’s not a super hero, he’s a man. An ordinary man has a lesser chance surviving against the individual that comes for him and it’s riveting stuff. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what Gordon’s fate would be. The last pages are illustrated by John McCrea. The art is good, but when shown after Capullo and Miki’s work, it looks lesser. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Matching the excellent artwork on the first story is the coloring by Fco Plascencia. The blues used to denote the gigantic monitors in the Batcave are exceptional. They also provided a terrific opportunity for red to be highlighted in both the city center and the virus. The browns in Gordon’s home were also well done, and the bright change that occurs in there is accomplished by art and colors, because those oranges and yellows are tremendous. Colors are also used on Pages 18 and 19 to differentiate the settings. A great job! The same cannot be said of Michelle Madsen’s work on the second story. She has done sensational work for Dark Horse Comics, but the final eight pages are a blob of dark mess. Unbelievably disappointing. Overall grade: C+

The letters: The first story is lettered by Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito, with Esposito doing the second story on this own. Narration, dialogue, sounds, and Joker speak is delivered well. Overall grade: A

The final line: This would have been much better had the final pages been deleted or placed in another book. One story is great, the other not so much. Overall grade: B

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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