Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo, Jock, and Jonathan Glapion
Release Date: December 12, 2012
Did you ever have one perfect moment? A time when everything was just right? A time that just gets better as you look back on it, and no matter how hard you try to recapture it, it just sort of slips away. Sure, you have good times again, in new places, with new people, but it’s never really quite the same, and when you’re by yourself again it’s not the new good times you remember, it’s that one moment, again and again. Have you ever felt that way?
Well, the Joker has, and he’s not standing for it. No one can accuse him of not trying to embrace the new. He’s shed his old skin, explored the world with a fresh (well, raw) face and he’s been forced — forced! — to come to the conclusion that the problem isn’t him. It isn’t even Batman. Sure, Batman’s changed, but it isn’t really his fault. It’s all those new people around him with their colorful costumes and their unlined faces and all their needs. The Joker’s even tried to attack the problem before, one-on-one. He killed a Robin, and even Batgirl disappeared for a while, but Batman just got a new Robin, and then another one! And then Batgirl came back, and the dead Robin, and the first Robin who never really went away but changed his face, and it’s all just too much to bear!
So for the past few months, the project has been to clean house, to get back to basics. But cleaning up isn’t really enough, is it? If you kill a Robin, he just comes back again. It’s not enough to kill. Killing is easy. Any idiot can walk into a police station and start breaking necks, but if you want to get things back to the way they were at the beginning, you have to do more than just kill. You have to do more than just kill all of them. You have to make them understand as they die, and you have to make him understand. Then you can have him back, all to yourself. Then things can be the way they were at the very start. Just you and him, and perfect nights by the water, flying in an airship, knowing that whatever you do, he’ll be there. Whenever he looks at the city, he’ll see you. All the other people may laugh and go away, but he’s always real, solid as a fist, clinging to you like your shadow.
All of this is going to take work, but you have your work clothes, you have your tool belt. You’ve put off your to-do list long enough. It’s been a year, and things aren’t going to fix themselves. It’s time to put your game face on. It’s time to get down to business.
And if you do the work right, you know that even when you step back for a minute, when you let the Batman take a breath, he’ll pick up right where you left off. Even in his dreams, in that magnificent brain of his that never lets anything, anything go, he’ll see you behind the faces of his dearest friends, axe in hand, ready to reach out and touch him. You know that he’s kept every sign, every token you’ve ever left behind. You know that he’s kept you, like a secret among all his secrets, closer than any of his so-called family. You know that there are things that he’s never told any of them, because they’re not like you. They don’t already know. And all you have to do is make him tell them. You know that they’ll talk and talk and start to wonder and doubt because they’re not him, they’re not even like him. They can’t keep up with him and they know it.
And they can’t even dream of keeping up with you.
Only then will you finally be able to make them understand that they will never, ever understand. That even if they look you in the eyes just once as they die that they will never really see you as the Dark Knight, your dark king does. They’ll never really recognize the tiny black pupils staring out of the darkness, not the way he does.
If you swing the hammer just right, just enough to crack his perfect, beautiful certainty, if you remove just a single piece of the sham of a family he’s built for himself, then he’ll look into that void and see you, only you. And if you leave a single breadcrumb, then he’ll bring himself right to your door.
He’s never been able to stay away.
Walk through the door (and while you’re there, frame Capullo’s haunting, magnificent opening page). I promise that nothing will be the same when you come out the other side.
I’ll be waiting.