Saturday, October 13, 2012

Batman #13

So do I scan all of these Death of the Family Issues with the Joker mask showing?

Or the real face?

If I scan them all with the Joker face, it'll get repetitive very quickly. Like in two issues! But if all the faces underneath are as simply as this Batman one, the Joker face wins out as much more dynamic and exciting. I also kind of like the different eyes that will show through the Joker mask. I'll probably just end up doing both every time. Who knows? I guess whatever mood I'm in when I read Batgirl #13 next.

I wish the Joker mask continued around the other side. Especially since it's October. I want to see dozens of people wearing paper Joker masks at all the parties this year. And then the one guy will show up with a mask made from real human skin and embarrass the hell out of all the other lazy losers.

The issue begins with Harvey and Gordon having a smoke on the roof of the precinct and chatting about the weird things that have been happening in Gotham lately. It's relaxed and foreboding all at the same time. Harvey is worried that the number of bad omens happening in Gotham right now will only make the press condemn the police more when the next bad thing happens simply because they should have seen it coming. Even though Jim knows this is probably true, there isn't a lot they can do about it. Currently Gordon is worried about trying to quit smoking. And of course while they're relaxing and speaking halfheartedly about whatever the omens portend, the portended pulls up at the police station in a white delivery van.

"Pick up for one clown face."

The Joker wanders about the police station terrorizing Gordon with his routine. The jokes part of his act was pretty scary but I think the fact that instead of punch lines he would just murder another cop was what horrified Gordon the most. It all happened in the dark, though, so Jim could only shine his flashlight randomly about the room and listen to all of The Joker's new material.

I made up this joke this week: "How many poltergeists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One but your ass hurts like hell afterward."

News travels fast around the Bat-Family. It's like a long lost uncle who would ruin every family gathering has suddenly returned for the next reunion and everybody is freaking out about what he's going to do to the potato salad. And it doesn't take long before everybody loses their appetites.

So Batman has plenty of time to stop the Joker since this first midnight deadline is sort of a soft deadline. You know. Because Mayor Hady is a piece of shit so it's okay if Joker kills him.

Joker is dropping so many clues to so many different things during his appearances that Batman's detective ability is faltering. He's getting all of The Joker's references and homages and double entendres. He's seen this act enough times that he knows it by heart. But Joker's changed his encore and Batman has no idea what it is.

This is why Batman keeps him alive. It's the challenge.

The calling card turns out to be yet another Joker Toxin that's already been delivered to the police assigned to watch over Mayor Hady. Joker always manages to poison people before he makes his first appearance. Perhaps that's why Gordon and Batman and the others get so stressed out when The Joker appears. Because it means people are already dead but they just don't know it yet. Seems to happen every time.

The calling card, by the way, Batman figures out is three non-essential, non-reactive ingredients in the Joker's new toxin. The initial letter of the three ingredients are A, C, and E. Ace Chemicals. Where The Red Hood became The Joker.

Batman meets up with The Red Hood inside the plant. Batman realizes pretty quickly that the person under the mask is not The Joker. The Red Hood tells Batman his plan. He's going to kill each and every member of the Bat Family because they're making Batman weak. I think it's because The Joker is jealous that Batman has so many new friends to play with. Whatever the case, Batman doesn't care for his family being threatened and he attacks. As he charges, a gigantic mallet swings down from the roof and knocks him in a vat. Well, well. Who do we know that likes oversized hammers?

Maybe I should have read Suicide Squad first to see how Harley gets out of Regulus's clutches.

While Batman is distracted and caught in a vat filling with chemicals in much the same way that one of the Adam West television episodes might have ended, Joker is busy putting his plan into action.

I guess this definitively answers the question if Joker knows Batman's identity. Unless he's just meaning to kill Bruce Wayne because he's Batman's financial support. Except that sort of ironic twist was just done in The Penguin story in Detective Comics. Again.

So Joker wants to turn Batman into a mean, pissed off, loner again. But why did he have his face cut off in the first place? Did he simply just want to turn his metaphorical clown mask into a literal clown mask? I'm sure Tony S. Daniel didn't have any real idea in mind when he had it happen so I'm expecting Snyder to use that moment to explain why the Joker has changed so dramatically.

The back-up story involves The Joker preparing Harley for her encounter with Batman. His jokes and teasing are more mean-spirited than his usual farcical attitude. He scares the hell out of Harley as he threatens to cut her face off too. But even though she's scared and frightened and abused and says she's not ready, she still accepts that it's going to happen. Of course it doesn't. He sticks the Red Hood on her and leaves her for Batman. It's this story that explains this panel:

I have a feeling The Joker is going to lose a lot of fans who thinks it's okay for him to be a murdering psychopath but treating your girl like this? Unacceptable, clown!

Batman #13 Rating: Still the top comic of The New 52. Come on, Snyder. Make a mistake already! Morrison and Azzarello want a chance at #1.

P.S. The DC Comics All Access section at the end of the comic is about the television show, Arrow. It begins thus: "It's an awesome time to be a Green Arrow fan!" Excuse me? Really? The first thirteen issues of Green Arrow sucked cosmic monkey poo, so I'm pretty sure being a Green Arrow fan is currently a really depressing thing to be. Although the show, Arrow, was much better than anything the Reboot has done with the character. Maybe I should just pretend the television show is the new comic.

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