Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo/Jock
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
The nature of Batman and the Joker’s relationship has changed with the sensibilities of the time. As we readers get deeper in touch with our feelings and have more free time to lament the human existence, so to have our heroes and their foils sought deeper introspection.
The Golden Age, when men were men and our enemies were eminently clear showed few emotional tethers between Bats and Joker. During the days of WWII, good was good and evil was evil — period. And of course good always triumphed. Flash forward to the silver age and you see the sanitized fifties bleed copious campiness into the title and little insight into either man, simply a goofy game of cat and mouse rife with ludicrous gadgetry and even more ridiculous crimes of grandeur. Go Bronze and we start to see a few chinks in each characters’ emotional armor, albeit the zaniness carry over of the silver age still forbade either from too deep of introspection. The 70s was the me generation and we began to see that essence in the pages of Batman. We began to know who the men were behind the masks and mayhem. The Dark Age propelled us into the ID of both characters as opposite sides of the same coin. Who made who was the question that plagued my mind leaving Tim Burton’s BATMAN, and can one really exist without the other was my walkaway from Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.
Now, we have Scott Snyder, the modern man in an age where self-discovery isn’t a luxury, it’s a requirement for societal success. In a time when the term Bromance can easily cross the lips of guys who are straight as an arrow, is it any wonder that the transformation of BATMAN and Joker’s relationship is one of an obsessive affection? Love, ladies and gentlemen is the new emotional bedrock between BATMAN and the Joker, and the penance for that love being unrequited is, “DEATH OF THE FAMILY.”
BATMAN 15 bleeds motivation for the Strap-On Jokers’ need to squelch all things Bat. In essence Joker wants to be part of the Bat family, he wants to be that crazy cousin at Thanksgiving who someone has to go bail out of jail for drunk driving when they go to get more stuffing from the store. Joker needs to be chased by the Bat like the earth needs the son and Lindsay Lohan needs to smell the inside of jail cells.
Now, even though I’ve said words like Bromance and Strap-On, let’s please not get puerile with the often associated act of love. This is an obsessive love based on an unhinged desire, not the higher state of intimacy and becoming one in flesh. Spirit perhaps, but that’s it.
This issue also successfully divided the family, and we are left wondering whether it was of the Joker’s devise or merely a side effect to the Joker’s grand plan. It’s a cool little mind-fuck “later reveal,” that more serial books should remember to use. I won’t ruin the details on how the Bat Family splits, but I will say it involves Bruce being odd man out for living in a state of delusional deniability regarding the Joker’s prowess and wiles.
The back-up story continues to delight, mainly because of Jock’s eerie ass way of seeing the world of the Joker. Even the point of view in the panels gives pause for creepiness. The backstories have been trips down memory lane to moments before the crossover started and how the Joker set all the main story’s plans in motion. I have to admit this one didn’t give me the same ick factor as the Harley episodes, but seeing the first signs of the Riddler in the Bat-Verse as more arrogant than maniacal gave me great hope for future Bat tales.
Everyone who keeps saying, “Robin’s going to die. Robin’s going to die.” Please kindly shut the fuck up. That’s a hack move neither Snyder nor DC can afford right now. If after reading BATMAN 15 you still believe this inane theory, I suggest you take a class in understanding subtlety. It’s not Robin that’s going to die, or Barbara, Dick, or Jason. BATMAN 15 clearly shows that death does not have to be a physical state of being, emotional death or untethering can sometimes be the most painful end of all because you must continue living afterwards.
P.S. When is that freaking face going to rot? I’m not a Sciencey guy, but I always thought faces needed more nourishment than leather and dental floss to avoid becoming necrotic.