Mr H and Alex Discuss: Batman: Endgame

endgameWhat started as Mr H and Alex talking about their Batman #49 minireviews quickly evolved into a full blown discussion about Scott Snyder‘s entire run on Batman from the outset of the New 52 all the way through to the fiftieth issue. Originally conceived as a single post, they quickly realized something: Mr H and Alex have a lot to say about this run, so they’ll be tackling it an arc at a time.
Well it’s the same Bat-time on the same Bat-channel, so Mr. H and Alex are back at it again. This time they’re talking about Endgame, an arc that they both seem to think is the best thing since sliced bread.

Endgame is a six issue story arc that ran from issue #35 to #40, and was the last story tol before DC‘s Convergence postponed the series for a couple of months.

There will be spoilers so if you haven’t read this story yet and you want to avoid spoilers, we’d advise you stop here.

Alex: This week we’re talking Endgame. An arc that is an absolute beast; it’s an emotional roller coaster, and one that I’ve felt is a very direct sequel to Death of The Family. Something that has literally just occurred to me, Mr H, is that Scott Snyder has given us a Batman/Joker trilogy like no other – if we start with Zero Year, then Death of The Family and finally Endgame, you have one hell of a trilogy.

Mr. H: Without a doubt this arc is the crowning achievement of Snyder‘s whole run. The fact that it starts out with Bruce having to fight a whole “Jokerized” Justice League just mean the stakes got upped by 1000 percent. I liked that Joker declared with his opening salvo like “Ok I let you rest a little bit, now I’m here to tear your ass apart!” It proved he was no longer screwing around. Plus the way the Joker dressed for this arc was very telling as well. He was dressed in all black, like he’s at a funeral. In his sick mind that’s exactly what it is. Batman‘s funeral.

Alex: Yeah, exactly. This arc was all about Joker trying to push Batman beyond the breaking point. He’s already stripped him of his family, he turns his friends against him, now Joker is saying with his opening salvo “the only way to keep your friends safe is to kill me. You simply cannot stop me.”

Mr H: Not only the use of the Justice League but when Joker calls Bruce on the pay phone and says “Hello Bruce”. This is it. Snyder is hitting the red button. The ultimate punchline. It’s no longer ambiguous.  Joker knows, he knows Bruce is Batman. He’s always known. What this means is there is no longer a sacred covenant between them. Everything and everyone is now fair game. All is fair in love and war. That’s what it is to Joker. Love that became war, and he sure means for Batman and his closest to become casualties. However the Joker understands Batman greater than anyone. He knows not just the bat family are near and dear to him, but all of Gotham. This time he intends to tear it all down.

Alex: That moment was probably the single most terrifying thing the Joker has ever done. He pulls the rug from under Batman‘s feet, with two words, and he shows that he’s one smart bugger. Joker knows who Batman is, but Batman has no idea who Joker is. And up until that point Joker was content to not say a thing.

Mr H: Yes and the level of mind games are astronomical throughout the arc. Joker is given an almost mythological presence with the possibility of immortality. It shakes Batman to the core. He has to remind himself that “he’s just a man.” He’s not. Like Batman he’s an ideal. Or rather the distortion of one. He takes Bruce‘s mission and puts it in a fun house mirror.  To your point he proves he’s one smart bugger, especially the moment he swims to the bat cave. Harkening back to Death in the Family. It’s no longer a case of ambiguity that he’s been to the bat cave. Oh he has, and he’s found his way back.

Alex:Batman is getting a taste of his own legend in Endgame. Joker is to Batman what Batman is to the common street thug. There’s a reason that Joker is Batman‘s greatest villain, and Snyder shows us exactly why here.

You brought up the possibility of immortality; I also wanted to talk about that, but before we go down that route, the reveal of Joker working (quite successfully) at Arkham was mind blowing. This was not only a systematic take down of Batman‘s psyche by the Joker but also a shattering of the reader’s understanding of just what the Joker is capable of by Snyder.

Mr H: Yes and I think in Snyder‘s hands the Joker is unparalleled. What was brilliant was this truly felt like a be all end all. Endgame so to speak was just that. This was Bruce‘s nightmare come to fruition, so much to that fact where there is one of the greatest scenes in the arc where Batman is forced to rally with his greatest enemies to take down an even worse enemy: The Joker. Plus how cool was it to see a Wolverine and Colossus style “fastball special” between Bane and Batman!

Alex: Oh man,  as a proud Wolverine fanboy, that was an absolutely wonderful little bonus for me.

 Endgame, like you said, really felt like the culmination of Batman‘s story. With Convergence around the corner, I genuinely felt that this would be the New 52 death of Batman, because I just couldn’t see a way out for Batman if he’s facing the immortal enemy.

To say I was nervous about the final issues ability to live up to expectations would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Mr H: I was so comfortable. Snyder has garnered tremendous respect from me. He knocked it out. Even with the element of dianyesium it works. We got a revitalization of the bat family and a truly terrifying Joker. There was no going back here. This had as much impact on me as when Bane showed up at Wayne Manor in 1993. It was game changing. I loved every minute. The “final” fight between Batman and the Joker was epic to say the least.

Alex: Yeah, for sure. This fight stands out to me because Snyder has spent the past two (chronological) arcs building Joker as this agent of chaos and misdirection that by the time we get the final fight, and Joker says “…or was I always this fast?” as the reader you genuinely doubt. We honestly don’t know, and it’s terrifying.

Endgame 1

Mr H:I think it’s so spookily gratifying for Joker to take his gloves off.  Your hero is only is as good as the villain.  Joker is the elite. He trounced Batman at every turn. Just when Bruce thinks he has a shot the rug is yanked. He’s forced to desperate measures. You said before sir that you thought Death of the Family would be the moment Batman would finally kill the Joker. I thought for sure this was the story it would happen. Snyder gave the impression that this could be the last Batman story ever. In some ways it was the last story of this version of Batman we may ever see. It’s just an absolutely masterful tale from start to finish.

Alex: You’re absolutely right,mate, it really was an amazing story. Snyder‘s ability to tell a story and make even a cynical comic fan like myself believe that Batman could legitimately die is incredible. I mean, and let’s be frank here, most long time comic fans have learned that death is usually far from permanent (I’m loving Old Man Logan right now, but I’m well aware that it’s only a matter of time before the younger Wolverine returns), so that Endgame feels like the end of Bruce‘s story is incredible.

Speaking of which, that last scene between Joker and Batman, with Joker realizing that Batman is willing to give it all up to stop him, and yet he still won’t kill the clown still gives me shivers. Joker was almost human there.

Mr H: Indeed sir. Snyder once again amps up the confrontation between Batman and the Joker and takes it to another level. I thought it was so cool to see Dick Grayson back in the Batman costume with the rogues gallery leading the United charge against Joker‘s front. The finale is spectacular on all facets as this eternal struggle between the two mortal enemies is heart wrenching and brutal. How fitting that their fates are tied together as well. When they do reach their “end” you feel satisfied as a conclusion of this story. One thing needs to be said, is as good as Snyder is here, Greg Capullo does an equally amazing job. His visuals are beyond incredible in this arc. From scenes like The Joker breaking into the bat cave to dis “arm” Alfred to him riding down central Gotham on dinosaur float. Even the opening with Bruce battling the justice league, its spectacular. Both he and  Snyder give us a great love letter to all that Batman is before giving us a nice epilogue while leading us into the exciting new future of the Dark Knight.

Alex: Oh, you’re absolutely right there, mate. There is so much about this arc that I enjoyed, and I think that we could both talk about Endgame  a lot longer than we have been, so before we wrap up I wanted to touch on how one of the final panels is the breast plate that was to be worn by a god descending from the heavens in the newly rebuilt theater (that Superman destroyed by throwing Batman into) being thrown away. If that’s not a symbolic expression of Gotham’s hope dying with Batman, I don’t know what is…

That’s it for this week folks. Next week Mr. H and Alex will be talking about Superheavy so tune in next week at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!