REVIEW: Batman #16 (Spoiler-Free)

Batman_16_FullBatman #16

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
Inks by Jonathan Glapion
Color by FCO Plascencia
Letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

$3.99 / 40 pages / Color

Published by DC Comics

Last week after my review of The Superior Spider-Man #1, I got a hard time when walking into my local comic shop for making the declaration that “I’m not a Spider-Man guy.” I imagine I’ll get similarly made fun of after this review of Batman #16 for clarifying that I’m not really a Batman guy either. Some argue that reviews shouldn’t be personal or about the reviewer, which for the most part I agree, but I feel that some explanation of where I’m coming from, as a reader and a critic, is important to set up the basis for the review.  That said, I’m not a Batman guy. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the classic Batman stories over the years, as well as the movies, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan” of the character or the family of books. In the case of Spider-Man, me not being a big Spider-Man fan allowed me to separate myself from the rabid emotions related to the most recent issue. But in the case of Batman, I hope that my honesty around not really having any allegiance to the character delivers my message with a little more weight than usual.

With this current story arc, “Death of The Family,” Snyder and Capullo are building on the base of excellence they’ve already established when Batman relaunched in September 2011. We raved when the title came out and the first year was more than impressive as they pit Batman against the new villainous threat of the Court of Owls and its Talons. As their second year on Batman began, they took on the big leagues by bringing back Batman’s greatest rival, The Joker. With such a high profile villain, all eyes have been on Batman to see what Snyder and Capullo could do. Simply put, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are currently in the process of crafting what may be the greatest modern Batman story ever.

In the pages of Batman #16, we’re close to the end of the story arc, but this penultimate issue serves an important role in terms of ratcheting up the tension. Leading up to this issue, we’ve seen The Joker make his presence known and lay down the expectations to Batman. He claims to know who Batman is, and he claims to know who all the members of the Bat-Family are (i.e. Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, etc.) and he’s coming for everyone. That revelation in previous issues was chilling enough, but not as chilling as the decision of Batman to go to Arkham Asylum and face The Joker alone here in Batman #16. The Joker represents unbridled insanity and complete unpredictability. As Batman #16 progresses, with each turn of the page, you don’t have any idea of what may be coming for Batman, and what does, is certainly chilling.

Since the relaunch of Batman, we’ve raved about Greg Capullo’s artwork, deservedly so, because it’s some of the best of his career. I’ve been a bit critical of the art on this arc up to this point, with a few pages here and there falling a bit short of that amazingly high level that we’ve come to expect, but in Batman #16, Capullo is back to top form with some of the best art you’ll see in comic books. Capullo’s approach to each page is nothing short of masterful, with dynamic layouts and distinctive figure work, and it’s unlike anything else on the racks. Batman #16 gives us numerous jaw dropping moments with imagery that will be seared in your mind as you run to talk to your friends about it and ask, “Did you SEE that?” What strikes me about Capullo’s work is his how he’s been able to subtlety weave in the history of Batman in glimpses and moments, while adding to the grand tapestry with his own take on the character.

While Capullo has been nothing short of amazing issue in and issue out, I feel as if the praise for this arc, and Batman #16 in particular goes to writer Scott Snyder. Since his debut on Detective Comics, we’ve had a sense that Snyder was capable of great things when it came to Batman, but it’s with this story that Snyder is really breaking out as the superstar writer he is. I don’t think we’ve seen a writer so dialed into the characters that he writes in the way that Snyder is with the Batman family. His characterization of Batman and The Joker is so strong, it can be overwhelming–I’ve never completely understood these characters as well as I have during this story. The motivations, actions and reactions are all calculated and well crafted in such a way that you can’t help but get anxious through every page turn. All the while, Snyder maintains a level of respect and reverence for the past stories of Batman, while adding his own bit of magic to the character and the title. The pacing of Batman #16 as an issue is nothing short of intense, balancing between suspense and horror. Feeling similar to the progression made in a video game, as the hero works his way through the ranks of villains, until he ultimately reaches the “boss” level. We often talk about how stories require a payoff, and while we’re not even at the end of this story, Batman #16 is full of payoff moments that should leave any reader excited.

After finishing reading Batman #16, I can only sit back in awe and think about how we’ll look back at this time and this story as a special moment, not only in Batman comics, but in comics in general. We’re watching greatness unfold in front of us as two creators can blend their talents in such a way, they’re creating some of the best comics around. With Batman #16, Snyder and Capullo reach great heights, the kind of which are rare in monthly comics. Even not being a Batman guy, I can sense and respect greatness when I read it and Batman #16 is exactly that. Greatness.

Story: 5 / Art: 5 / Overall: 5

(Out of 5 Stars)


  1. Do you have a tweet-length reason as to why you are more of an X-guy than a Batman-guy?

    • I think it’s equal parts upbringing (I was exposed to the X-Men before Batman or other DC heroes) and preference – I relate to the X-Men’s position (outcasts, outsiders, family, drama etc) over the plight of Batman (loner, vengeance etc) – Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Batman from time to time, but I don’t have the same passion for the character

    • Makes sense. It usually goes back to initial exposure. When I first discovered that comic books were actually real things that existed I bought a copy of everything on the rack at the bookstore. Of all the titles, I came away from it really liking Batman and Uncanny X-Men. To this day they are still the comics that I will buy no matter what (as well as Wolverine, perhaps unfortunately). My Batman run goes back to 401 and Uncanny back to 194. Seems like I’ve heard you say you have a similar Uncanny run, as well as some random older issues.

    • I’m with Ron. I like Batman but I’m not near the fan that others are. That being said, Batman books are just about the only thing I’m pulling from DC so quality is what brings me to the pages, not necessarily character.

      However, if DC started to print some Booster Gold books again 🙂

  2. Why are comments disappearing from this post?

    Google Chrome also was telling me that was infected with malware? Any knowledge of this weirdness?

  3. This has been a wonderful arc. I’m looking forward to this one.

  4. It is getting perfect scores on every comic website i visit… So excited

  5. Greatest modern Batman story is Morrison’s Batman and Robin. That said, I have been GREATLY enjoying Snyder and Capullo’s run and cannot wait to get the next issues in my hands. It’s the reverse of Swamp Thing and the Rotworld arc where I wish they’d just get to the point. With this, I’d like to see the creative team maybe take a bit more time with the return of the Joker. But in Snyder I trust. (Also, the back-up stories have been FANTASTIC!)

    • Could somebody explain why everyone raves about Morrison’s Batman and Robin? I liked most of his Batman run up to that, but I think it was only volume 3 of Batman and Robin that I actually liked. Am I missing something about that run?

  6. Ron, thanks for this review. Well written and well thought out. Too often I’m sure you get pegged as the “X guy” or “Marvel guy.” But you don’t overlook greatness no matter who the publisher is. I loved your enthusiasm in this review.

    It’s sad for me, as a self-professed “DU guy”, that more of their current books aren’t better. If 10-15 of the DC books were 80% as good as Snyder and Capullo’s “Batman” is, they’d be kicking everyone’s ass. But you can’t force greatness. This has been an organic pairing, and I think these two push each other to aspire to greatness. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But man, has it paid off here.

    I can’t wait to read #16!

  7. I love Batman & the X-Men and growing up Spider-Man was my favorite then it shifted to X-Men as the content seemed more mature as I got older, these days I love all 3 but have only read the recent ASM arc & 1st Superior to see what’s happening in Peter Parker’s world….anyway it’s great to see an honest review for a title from an “X-Men guy” more than a “Batman guy.” There are some great comics being done by numerous publishers right now and Batman has to be at the top with the other best out there.

  8. You know you need to start getting worried when nearly every comic site has an advanced review of a book and they’re all giving it perfect scores. Major status quo change incoming!!

  9. Can we just go ahead and make this POTW now?

  10. Hurry up and get here Wednesday!!

  11. Apparently there is one panel in here that people are going ga-ga over. I can’t wait to see what the hub-bub is.

  12. This really is a special Batman run. Makes me wish all the more that this Death of the Family crossover nonsense wasn’t happening. Not that the other books have been especially bad, exactly. Just that they aren’t up to the level that Snyder is setting. Sadly, they take away from the overall Snyder narrative when all read together. I was reading most of them at first, but have since dropped them. In a vacuum on it’s own, Snyder’s story is so much better when no diluted by the ancillary titles.

    • For some reason my LCS was really pushing the other crossover series on me last month. They put Red Hood, B & R, Sucide Squad, in my file and when I said I didn’t want those they asked “well, which parts of the crossover do you want?” . I really wish DC and Marvel would stop giving certain characters multiple series (Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, etc), becaue I feel it’s just too much all becaue people will pay more a month just to see more of a certain character. Not to mention the quality variation in every book.

  13. This crossover has been abysmal, I hope this issue is as good as your review says.