Review: BATMAN #13

BATMAN #13
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
Release Date: October 10, 2012

Tacking a numerical rating on the end of a review is my least favorite part of the process, and yet when it comes to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current run on Batman, I find myself spending way too much time and energy on that little number.

Such are the burdens of being a critic during a period which has already earned a place in the upper echelons of Batman’s history, and shows every sign of even better things to come. There’s simply nothing (or almost nothing) to criticize, and there’s real danger of that little number becoming totally meaningless.

As a case in point, consider Batman #13, which kicks off Snyder’s Death of the Family storyline.

Like a deranged fanboy unhappy with a new continuity, the Joker storms on the scene to revisit the old familiar faces, none of which totally fit anymore. (Including, of course, his own.) Not to worry, though. It’s always possible to start again.

So this is the reboot, with the Joker in control. There are new twists on old themes and old murders. The old poisons, old outfits, and old haunts are all there, but everything works a little differently. The Joker is going to clear up all those messy, inconsistent details with his own back-to-basics mandate. Do you think Batman is better without a Robin, much less four Robins in five or six years? Joker totally agrees. So he’s going to get rid of them, and the rest of the whole silly Bat family as well. (Maybe Harley, too.)

Batman #13 is probably the single scariest Joker story I’ve ever read, executed in a way that makes it totally impossible to separate Snyder and Capullo’s contributions. From Joker’s visit to the Gotham City Police Department, in which he kills at least five officers with his bare hands in total darkness, all the while taunting Commissioner Gordon, to the first reveal of the Joker’s new face as a reflection in a beloved character’s eye, this is the stuff of nightmares.

AND IT’S ONLY THE FIRST ISSUE OF THE STORY. How do you put a rating on that? Do you give it a 9.0 or a 9.5, just to leave room for improvement as the story picks up? Or do you find yourself forced to break out the perfect 10 for an issue that does everything, everything right?

If you aren’t reading Batman (and even with the sales figures, there must be at least a few of you), this is the perfect place to hop on board. And you should, if only to understand why your friends have started to look like they’re not sleeping very well.

Verdict: 10/10

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