Artist: Greg Capullo
I have loved this series of Batman, and especially since the start of Death of the Family, which has been phenomenal. Scott Snyder has done a tremendous job on both this series, and this story, and Greg Capullo has produced outstanding artwork throughout.
This issue sees Batman going through Arkham Asylum where he goes through some of his Rogues Gallery to get to Joker, including Mr. Freeze, Clayface, and Scarecrow. He eventually gets to Joker, who is with Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face, who are all waiting to great their "King".
The back-up story features the aftermath of this issue and involves Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face.
This was a brilliant issue, and Snyder continues to amaze me with this story. Although this issue was a little slow to start of with, and had a few flaws, it was still a very good issue, and the way Joker was written was enough to make this my favourite issue in the storyline so far. To be honest I was slightly disappointed with the start of this issue, as it just felt a little slow, and I didn't like a couple of thing, but I'll talk more on that later. Snyder did however pull this back by once more writing the Joker perfectly, making him the unpredictable. psychotic individual that I love to read. I also loved how he kept the suspense up in this issue, and although some of the scenes looked unrealistic they were still awesome.
Capullo has done an amazing job of the artwork in this issue, and I think this is the main thing that has made the story as brilliant as it's been, as he's taken Snyder's amazing scripts and made them look breathtakingly fantastic. I love how he draws all the characters throughout this issue, but especially Joker. He shows Joker's emotions perfectly, as it's easy to tell if he's clowning about, or having a psychotic thought. Although Joker has been shown as an evil character many times in the past, I don't think he has looked as evil as the way Capullo drew him during certain scenes in this issue, as he looked really deranged and sinister.
The thing I mainly didn't like in this issue was the dancing at the start, as although it's something wacky for Joker to do, whilst also being enough to grab Batman's attention I personally felt that it wasn't right for this issue, and that it slowed the issue down a bit. I can however easily overlook this as it was a decent way to start the issue, making it slightly easier for newer readers to jump on in the middle of the story, and the rest of the issue outweighed this by miles.
I liked the sequence where Batman faces ton's of inmates armed with flaming swords, bats, and other weapons, and thought it looked awesome, but at the same time it looked slightly unrealistic, and all happened a bit to quick for my liking. Although I would have liked this sequence to have lasted a bit longer than it did, at the same time I was happy that it wasn't dragged out, as I'd prefer it to not quite last as long as I'd like, than last too long, taking away time from the Joker/Batman confrontation.
Besides the way Snyder writes Joker, the thing I liked most about this issue was how involved the more well known members of Batman's Rogues Gallery, and not just the main three that Joker recruited in the previous back-up stories. It was nice seeing Freeze, Scarecrow, and Clayface, and it was nice to see a focused Batman take them out easily. I also liked that despite each appearance being brief, it was still thought out, and didn't feel like it was thrown in to make up the pages. Although I liked that Batman took them down with relative ease, hence not wasting too much time, I would have probably preferred maybe one of them (preferable Clayface due to him featuring in Detective Comics recently) dropped to give more time to show Batman facing the other two, but besides that it was still very nice to see them.
I also really enjoyed that Joker had Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face dressed up in a manner that fitted the game he was playing with Batman. Although I have never seen Joker do anything like this before I am not surprised, as he's very unpredictable, and you'd never be totally shocked by something he'd do. The thing I liked most about the collection of what could easily be considered as Batman's top 4 villains (whether you like them or not) is that it made the back-up stories more worth while, showing a grander purpose. I also liked that the other three didn't have a huge vocal involvement, as at the end of the day the story is mainly between Batman, and Joker, and should stay that way.
I won't talk about the ending much, but will say that it was shocking, and sets up the finally in next issue perfectly.
I also won't delve into the back-up story too much as it's an aftermath to the main story, and I don't want to spoil it. I will however say that in my opinion it was the worst back-up story in the Death of the Family story so far, and although it was still interesting it mainly seemed an easy way to possibly take Penquin, Riddler, and Two-Face out of the next issue. I did however love Jock's art, and have loved seeing it in these back-up stories, as it was the main thing I liked about Snyder's run of pre-New 52 Detective Comics.
Another fantastically brilliant issue, in what has easily been my favourite story in the New 52 so far. I would highly recommend it to anyone, as well as both the rest of the story, and series, and hope that it finishes epically.