Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 01.16.2013 – Batman #16

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

1700
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.7%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, & Jock
Cover by Greg Capullo
Variant Cover by Aaron Kuder

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

You know when you’re watching a thriller—or even reading a thriller; reading is probably more appropriate in this case—and you get to that moment right before the big reveal and the tension level is ratcheted up so high that, if the filmmaker or author has done their job, you just can’t take it any more?

That’s Batman #16 in a nutshell.

The penultimate chapter of the “Death of the Family,” in which The Joker has returned to wreck havoc among the Batfamily, promised to be nerve-wracking and it promised to be creepy and it delivered on both counts. When The Joker came back he did so with an agenda and with a theory about Batman. He sees Batman as The King of Gotham and he sees himself as Batman’s court jester, the only member of the royal court who can tell truth to the King. That truth, as The Joker sees it, is that all these costumed hangers-on are making Batman weak. Numerous sidekicks and allies in his war on crime have made Batman less than he should be, and that’s no fun for The Joker. And thus The Joker’s plan to destroy all those that Batman holds dear and return the King to his rightful place in Gotham City.

Enter: Arkham Asylum, The King’s castle.

Forget Dr. Arkham, The Joker has always been the one really in charge of the Asylum. He came and went as he pleased, he held brutal sway over the employees (even turning one into Harley Quinn), and he had the devotion of every inmate. So it comes as no surprise that The Joker has made Arkham Asylum the centerpiece of his grand plan. In Batman #16 we find The Joker in total control of the building, having remade it, and its inhabitants—both inmates and employees—into players in his twisted vision. Arkham is now the King’s castle and it’s the site of the climax of this story.

Scott Snyder is dialed into Gotham City and its inhabitants. That much is clear. This run of his that began back in Detective Comics is the work of someone who an has intense love for, and deep understanding of, these characters and their world. And that includes The Joker, a character who has had about as many different personalities and interpretations as any in comic book history. Snyder’s Joker is one who would easily mesh with Frank Miller’s version from The Dark Knight Returns. He loves Batman. He needs Batman. He’s nothing without Batman. What Snyder has done here in “Death of the Family” is take that aspect of The Joker, and turn the creepy dial to 11. The Joker has had a long time to plan this and it shows. He has defeated all the sidekicks, he has converted Arkham Asylum into the creepiest Medieval Times ever, he has even convinced some of rogue’s gallery to engage in some royal improv. The Joker has all the angles covered. All except one: Batman.

There are a lot of great touches to this issue. I loved the gauntlet of creepy that Batman had to run to get to The Joker. From forced dancing to the horse call back to the ease at which a supremely pissed-off Batman dispatched adversaries that would normally give him a lot more trouble, I loved it all. But the capper was the final scene in the “throne room” in which Batman had to face his “court” (he can’t escape that word, can he?), which consisted of what I consider to be four of the five best Batman villains: The Joker, Two-Face, Penguin, and The Riddler, a twisted take on the Justice League, and a version of the Sword in the Stone that was as funny as it was terrifying. To write a truly successful Joker you need a writer whose mind is a little twisted and creepy and after his run on Batman, American Vampire, and Severed, I think we can safely say that Snyder’s mind goes to some twisted and creepy places when it needs to.

Complimenting the main story wonderfully, as it has been all along, was the back-up tale written by James Tynion IV which took place mere moments after the end of the main story and revealed that perhaps Two-Face, Penguin, and The Riddler are not quite as down with The Joker’s crazy cosplay as they appeared. It was a great epilogue whose ending served as the real emotional kicker to the issue.

Among many other things, Batman #16 is an artistic tour-de-force. Greg Capullo has reasserted himself as a superstar with this series and this issue is one of his best yet. A lot has been said about his dynamic action so instead it’s time to heap some praise on his storytelling skill. From the way he cants angles to the way he pushes “the camera” in and pulls way out, Capullo does a masterful job of creating tension through the storytelling alone. Add to that characters whose faces emote wonderfully and the sense of weight that he brings to his subjects—I feel like I can feel it when Batman punches people or things (or horses), and you come up with one of the best artists in comic books who is at the absolute top his game. The more you look at Capullo’s pages, the more you see the little things that he does that enhance the page and the overall experience of the reader.

The back-up story features art by Jock and having him work on a Batman book again just feels right. His style that is full of heavy lines and deep shadows and rough, angular faces fits perfectly in Gotham City, and even more perfectly in this particular chapter of the story that takes place in Arkham Asylum and features some rather twisted characters. His Joker is truly something terrifying to behold and I found myself wondering, despite my absolute love of Capullo’s work, what this storyline would have been like if Jock had drawn the whole thing.

After reading Batman #16 I am left full of tension and my mind races with one thought and one thought alone: what’s under the silver serving dome? WHAT’S UNDER THE SILVER SERVING DOME?

Conor Kilpatrick
It BETTER not be Alfred.
conor@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. That tapestry, man…that friggin tapestry…

  2. Best part of this issue for me is when Joker owned Two-Face. Man, I feel so sorry for him.

  3. My guess as to whats under the dome. Alfreds head. Think about it, Alfred has always been the center of the Bat family. When one member needs morale guidance they turn to Alfred. Plus he is still missing. Even though its probably the most easy answer that who I would put money on. Him or Gordon.

    • If Alfred’s head is under that fucking dome, all my rational responses to those crazies who flipped out about Peter Parker’s “death” may very well go right out the window. I honestly don’t know how I’m gonna handle that.

      That said, I don’t think it will be.

      It can’t be.

      … Can it?

    • If Alfred is dead … wow. Comic book deaths have become tedious since we’ve got entire books devoted to them, but Alfred dying would legitimately upset me. Especially since it seems like the kind of death that would stick, at least for awhile.

    • I was thinking initially that it could be Alfred’s head, but then Joker had that little speech about subverting expectations and going against type. We expect Joker to kill Alfred…so it’ll be something else…

      This is me trying to rationalize that moment in the hopes of it NOT being Alfred’s head on the platter

    • I know that Peter Parker is going to come back, but Alfred! Oh please don’t do that.

    • Alfred seems like a death that would stick. Also I did catch that line about subverting expectations which is why I’m not a hundred percent sure it’s him. He did drop a hint though with the its in the name line though and the bat babies won’t like it.

    • I don’t think it’s Alfred. That is too obvious and is exactly what Snyder wants us to think it is.

    • Ok, so I dont really think its Alfred anymore Snyder eludes that its not him in the Fatman on batman podcast he did with Kevin Smith. Fuck this is like lost all over again. I’m trying to peice what gonna happen next with the smallest clues lol.

    • I think it’s going to be Bruce Wayne’s alleged brother from Court of the Owls – a family member (if his story is true) and someone who usurped Batman’s attention while the Joker was gone. A few other things in the dialog hint at it too. Obviously the serving dish is a pretty strong hint that it IS Alfred but I think that’s misdirection. Let’s face it, it’d be much easier to kill off a character they just invented rather than a key piece of the mythology than Alfred

    • @Cormac: No offense, but I hope you’re wrong. That would be lame. It would also have no impact on Bruce whatsoever. The end of Court Of Owls left us and Bruce wondering if Talon’s story was true, and even if it were, I don’t think Bruce would care much if he were killed. He was a villain, plain and simple. Bruce would stop one villain from killing another if he could, but he wouldn’t get weepy if one bit the dust without his knowledge. Besides, Snyder spent a lot of time setting up the Thomas character. It’d be a waste to kill him off so quickly.

      Like Joker says, Bruce is only playing along because of what MIGHT happen to the family. He couldn’t live with the knowledge that he could’ve done something to help them, but didn’t. The family is Joker’s target. He wants things simplified again. He has Alfred, and it appears that he has the rest of them now. I’m not saying there will definitely be a casualty, but if there is, it’ll be a member of the family. The real family. Not some lunatic claiming to be family.

    • The Joker shows Two-Face and the Penguin whats on the plate. Unless they too know Batman’s secret identity then it wouldn’t have impacted them the way it did. The only thing would be the Batman Inc ties Bruce has to Batman. Still I doubt they’d be excited about the butler to the guy who finances batman being murdered.

  4. Totally agreed with this entire review. God, this was such a tense issue from beginning to end. Props should definitely go to Capullo and his team though for making one hell of a good looking issue. The coloring really stood out for me too, especially when Batman was fighting the inmates in the smoke. Funny how two years in a row I’ve picked a Scott Snyder book during the third week of January.

  5. I will probably have Batman written by Morrison like nightmares tonight… trippy and full of mystery …

    It was a great read… I love that it got POTW 😀

  6. can’t even tell you how thrilled i am at this. i’ve said it before but ifanboy is where i got my first and only review on my first comic (a human torch story, reviewed by TheNextChampion – still remember, you up there, two posts above!) and it’s since become a site I adore for its pieces, reviews, conversations, and all the people who make it up. It’s the plain truth. iFanboy is fucking awesome. Thanks again!

    But no spoilers from me on the dome 🙂

    • I check iFanboy often but haven’t felt the desire to login, in maybe years. I just wanted to say this to you.

      I’ve been reading Batman for decades and everyone has their favourite Batman whether it be Miller, Morrison, O’Neil, Adams or any other take on Batman and honestly I love them all they’re all important, they’re all great.

      Hands down though, you’re my favourite Batman. I’ll take your run on Batman over The Dark Knight Returns, Year One or the Killing Joke and I unquestionably love each of them but you’re King for me.

      Best wishes.

    • @ssnyder: Check’s in the mail! 🙂

      Seriously though, really fantastic job from you and everyone else on this issue. What a way to celebrate a birthday week!

    • @ssnyder: This arc is going to deserve the Absolute treatment. I’m a little stumped though. On that tapestry, I got the Death in the Family moment, but what were the other two? The Joker kicking Batman, and Joker holding a baby. I’m a bit rusty on some things.

    • The Joker holding a baby – ending to No Man’s Land.

      The butt kick? Anyone?

    • Re: The kick. The only piranha trap I can remember is in The Animated Series episode Mad Love. It was a plan the Joker had scrapped because he couldn’t get the piranhas to smile, so Harley recreates it in an effort to please him.

    • The first image is laughing fish. The kick is jokers five way revenge. Then death in the family and no mans land. Those are the four scenes shown.

    • Thanks folks! I missed most of those throughout the years for whatever reason.

    • Examining that tapestry last night made me wish that I had my old Joker:Stacked Deck collection handy, instead of back at my mom’s house . . .

      @ssnyder: It’s always great to hear from you; keep up the fabulous work, this is one of the best Joker stories I’ve read in years . . .

    • @cosmo. Look at the bright side. You no longer live with your mother.

    • @SSnyder Thank you so much sir! You are a class act!

      I’ve loved everything you’ve put out since I first read the first issue of American Vampire! Sad that you are leaving Swamp Thing but excited for the new Superman book! Keep up the great work! You keep writing, I’ll keep reading!

    • If you didn’t catch the Laughing Fish or Joker’s Five Way Revenge references, you gotta go back and read those stories again. Absolute CLASSICS.

  7. Oh God… not this again! I don’t want this. I can’t handle this.

    This is exactly like watching Seven for the very first time. That damn box! Don’t open it! (Open it!) NO NO NO NOOOO!!!

    Damn you Snyder. (No, not at all)

  8. for those wondering the silver serving dome is called a ‘cloche’.

    And I’m def gonna buy vol 3 tpb of Batman

  9. It’s definitely not Alfred (too obvious).

    Also, if anyone listens to Kevin Smith’s “Fat Man on Batman” podcast, in the episode that featured Scott Snyder, it seemed like maybe Mr. Snyder let slip that Alfred would be ok.

    Also, I feel like Alfred would be too obvious…I think a culling of the Robins is in order…

    • If there’s a culling of Robins, I fear for Tim Drake. Damien’s probably safe: he’s popular & still needed, I assume, by Morrison. Jason Todd has his own book, which just got a new creative team. Besides why kill the same guy twice? Nightwing also has his own book. You could off Drake but still have Titans. I hope it’s not him, but, he’s my guess if it’s any of them . . .

      Really hope it’s not Alfred, that would be quite sad. It is obvious, but, almost, so obvious that no one expects it, so at this point it would be a surprise . . .

      I personally think that anyone’s head would be too obvious at this point. Why kill when you can cripple or scar? Plus it would need to be something sooo disgusting to sicken the Penguin — would he be that repulsed by simply a dead Robin?

    • @cosmo: Of course he would. He’s got a thing for birds. I agree that offing a Robin would make the most sense from an editorial standpoint. I also agree that Tim is the most likely candidate. As sad as that makes me, I’d almost rather see the character put out of his misery at this point. The Batbooks suffered the most from the relaunch, and Tim suffered more than anyone. The only downside to killing Tim, for me, is that I’m so numb towards their treatment of him lately that it probably wouldn’t resonate with me.

    • I agree that Tim is probably the one to most likely bite it, HOWEVER…

      I feel like it’s going to be Damian. Nothing ages the character of Bruce Wayne like having a son. Plus, if the Joker actually is re-creating his past exploits, wouldn’t he want to kill the current Robin as he killed Jason Todd who was the current Robin at the time?

      Also, what’s with the solicit for Batman and Robin #18 (the first issue available AFTER Batman#17 is released, B&R#17 comes out the same day 2/13):
      “You dare not miss this issue! It’s the BATMAN AND ROBIN story of the year!”

      Seems pretty vague to me…

    • Yes, going after the current Robin would make “sense” for The Joker, but I’m still not sure about editorially. Plus, isn’t he needed over in Batman, Inc? (I havem’t read an issue of the title since #3, so I’m not really sure what the state of play in it is).

      I still argue that killing someone is what we expect at this point & is something that any criminal could do. I suspect that The Joker(& Snyder) has something more originally twisted in store . . .

    • Damian is pretty essential to the current story in Inc. It would be a pretty tight squeeze to fit this into that at the moment. But Chris Burnham mentioned recently that Inc. will tie into DOTF in a way that no one will see coming, so take that for what it’s worth.

    • @WheelHands with the fact that Batman Inc doesn’t have any tie-in to DOTF at the moment (and therefore could preceed the story being told in Batman), my guess is Damian is going to be the one to bite it, or at the very least, something horrible will happen to him.

      Do you think Snyder is setting up Harper Row to be a new Robin?

    • @ClasikRok: That’s true. It could precede DOTF. It such a unique title, and it’s stood on its own up until now. You may be on to something. But I feel like if Damian’s gonna bite it after such a relatively short time since his introduction, Morrison should be the one to do it. Honestly, the boys have had such a small presence in this story that it could go either way. I feel like if Tim were doomed, he should’ve had at least one moment alone with Bruce beforehand, just to reinforce his value to the family. But then, that could’ve been too much foreshadowing. And no one likes that.

      Harper as the next Robin is an interesting theory, but if that’s gonna happen I’d like to spend more time with her. We barely know her, so a lengthy origin story might be in order before she takes up the mantle. From what little we do know of her, donning the red and green doesn’t really seem like her style though.

    • “Unique” is one way to put it . . . It does feel as though as it occurs in a different place than the rest of the New 52 Bat-titles, so, yeah, I could see Damain’s death being possible. That said, my gut still says Drake. I’d miss them both, though, I agree that Damain has been much better served in the New 52 than Drake . . .

      Harper Row as some sort of Robin/Alfred/sidekick/assistent role would be interesting — I was intriuged by her recent appearence . . .

    • At the moment I’d say Tim is safe as he is still being mentioned in solicitations and appearing on covers for Teen Titans issues coming after DOTF is over.

      I am definitely loving Harper Row as a character, so as long as she continues to appear in some capacity, I’m happy.

  10. I’m pretty sure that nothing is under the dome. That it’s Batman’s fears, the fears that result from caring about the people around him, that is under the dome. All the things he imagines that it could be, that it will be, all the things the Joker can take from him that would destroy him.

    And in that way, it’s his weakness that the Joker serves to him on a silver platter.

    • Then why were the other villains horrified when he opened it for them?

    • Right. And since Bruce hasn’t even seen the covered platter yet, it seems like an strange order to have the events unfold in.

    • Penguin definitely seemed horrified. Two Face, not so much. SOMETHING is under it!

    • I don’t see it being anyone’s head or anything remotely like that. The Joker in this arc seems to be more fixated on visiting his and Batman’s past while reminding him of what makes him the current king of Gotham more then anything else. I really suspect what’s under the serving dome is something related to this. Any number of things that the Joker and Batman have shared in their rivalry could be more than enough to upset the Penguin.

  11. Everyone, we need to pretend we’re not terrified of Alfred’s head being in that platter. Synder is everywhere and he is watching. If he knows how much it’ll upset us he’ll do it for sure.

  12. I feel like a Robin will die and Alfred will be maimed…I can see Harper being a new Alfred type figure…Joker did mention he had blinded Alfred…this would keep him around, but make him vulnerable enough t need another person (Harper) I also am thinking about #0 though…something related to the hood would seemingly be coming too.

    • True, The Joker did mention that he blinded Alfred, but I’ve been assuming that this was a tease, a way of playing at Batman’s emotions. Why give away such devasting information at the outset of the game, unless there was something even more gruesome in store for the ending . . . That said, a blinded Alfred would be compelling (as long as they don’t just toss him in a Lazarus Pit a few months from now).

    • Apparently, ammonia blindness is not always permanent, although it definitely can be if not treated and continued. it damages the cornea (perhaps a cornea transplant could correct it?). Happens a lot in the poultry business due to poor ventilation.

  13. My only expectation is that if The Joker did kill Alfred, that Bruce kills The Joker. He wouldn’t kill him for Jason but this, this is the time that Bruce goes over. If Alfred is killed and Bruce does not kill The Joker, I’m going to have to re-think life choices and how I’ve gotten to this point in life.

    • Not gonna happen. The one constant in Batman’s entire career has been not crossing that line. Snyder has too much respect for the character to have him break the One Rule.

      If it does unfold in a similar way, the farthest Bruce will go is to not save him if he is dying. No further.

  14. So thus far in 2013, Ron picks an X-Men book, Josh picks outside the big 3, Conor picks Batman. You guys are just begging to keep your stereotypes 🙂

    I haven’t had a problem with any of the picks btw, just was amused.

  15. I cant remember the last time i was this anxious to get the next issue of a book and also just genuinely creeped out by one. I agree with everyone who says it wold be too obvious to have Alfred’s head on the tray. On the last page where joker reveals whats on the tray the penguin is shocked while two face seems to be fascinated by it which leaves me at a loss to what it could be. With all that said I’ve been loving the art Jock has been putting out and cant wait for #17.

  16. I don’t think it will be Alfred’s head or anything. Remember Nigma’s face from #15 when Joker showed him the plans, even he didn’t understand. I assume Riddler wouldn’t be surprised by the Joker just killing someone close to Bruce.

  17. This was a great issue. The accurate depictions of all the major Batman villains was remarkable. I feel the Joker finds that the Riddler is the clear threat over Two Face and Penguin. It was funny how when the cell locked all three villains in both Two Face and Penguin turned to Riddler for help. Too bad the Joker put sedatives in his jacket though lol.

    • I for one LOVED that moment. I love that even though the Riddler is smarter than Joker when it comes to that kind of thing, the Joker is smart enough to know that and take the precautions he needs to. Such a great moment for those of us who love the Riddler and the Joker

  18. POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    POSSIBLE SPOILER

    If you read Batgirl and Batman & Robin this month, they all end similarly, with the cloche. If you notice, there is blood on it an the serving tray it covers. So, whatever is in there must have some blood in or on it.

    The Joker gave two clues: it will not sit well with the bat kids, and it’s not what they should expect it to be. To me, that means Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin, and Batgirl will not like it. And it’s not what we as readers would logically think it would be – like part of Alfred (although it could be, but that seems too obvious).

    We already know Joker has Batgirl and Damian captive. I’m behind on Nightwing, so he may also have Dick captive. So, could he be planning some kind of grotesque dinner scene with the Bat family, all restrained around a table? Sort of a kingly feast with the royal family? If so, what, or who, is for dinner? Could it be the Bathound’s head? Don’t forget the Dollmaker is still running around somewhere, and he’s a brilliant but twisted surgeon. What if he made a mask from parts of the sidekicks’ faces, a motley mask of human skin?

    The other thing they have not shown yet is Batman’s face, post-electrocution. I don’t think he’s dead – the preview for the last issue showed Batman and Joker fighting in what looks like the Batcave. But what if Joker had Batman’s face removed?

    What would upset the kids but not be the expected thing?

    • I’m thinking that you’re definitely right about the gathering of the family, but I don’t think Joker just wants to creep them out with nasty masks. His ambition is to destroy the family, but I don’t think anyone of them is going to die. Joker may fool them into thinking he killed Alfred and now gives all family members the chance to kill Joker. There might be faked pieces of Alfred under the bowl along with a gun. Everybody gets a free shot at Joker. He might use the face mask to make them shoot someone else, so that whether they take the shot or not, he still survives. The result is the same regardless – the Bat family is given a unique opportunity to kill the Joker, but not all members share the same values. We know that Damian and Jason might be more lethal than the others, for example. If they go this way I think the big controversy will be that Bruce will end up pretty much alone, the family split up. The Joker would actually win this fight no matter what.

  19. @Boyling – I think you may be on to something there. I have to think that someone’s head under the dome would be way too obvious and with the way this story has unfolded so far there’s no telling how it will end. I love what Snyder has done with these characters and can’t wait for the next issue!

  20. Crazy thought what if its Batgirl? Gail Simone was fired right? What if DC’s original plan was to let go of Gail Simone after this arc ended because there would’nt be a batgirl. However due to fan backlash DC decided well, kill her but have Harper Row replace her. Thus after death of the family Gail Simone will write Harper Row. Crazy I know but hey.

    • It’s not Batgirl. She was presented with a silver dome of her own at the end of her tie-in issue this week.

    • Ah damn, thought I was on to something. Oh well have’nt been reading any of the other tie ins. So back to square one.

    • Here’s a thought… we’ve seen a cloche presented at the end of Batman, Batgirl, and Batman & Robin. What if it’s not the same cloche? What if it’s a different one for each person? Maybe something specific for each one?

  21. Alfred has been the one constant in Batman’s life. A father figure. The one who keeps Bruce grounded in reality and in touch with his humanity. Without Alfred, I think he’ll cut ties with the sidekicks. Isn’t that what Joker wants? He might kill Alfred.

    • I could totally see it being his plan to kill Alfred. Sure, he’s the obvious heart of the family that keeps things together. He’s always giving kind advice, smoothing over disagreements, patching people up. I would not be surprised if the Joker has Alfred in mortal jeopardy and presents this to the captive Bat-family, only to be foiled at the last second.

    • Or… what if Joker’s plan all along is to push Batman to cross the line and kill him. That would probably break up the Bat family, since all the kids would be horrified that he did it (except Jason of course).

    • I agree with you, I think it’s Alfred. He was the one who put out the call to the bat family in Court of Owls, and without him, would Batman ever ask for help? I don’t think so.

      I also think this is why Snyder introduced that mechanic girl who jump started Bruce’s heart…She will take over as Batman’s support structure. But without ties to the “robins”, the Family will truly be dead.

  22. On DC’s website, if you look at Nightwing #18 it says “Dick Grayson lost so much during “DEATH OF THE FAMILY” that some new events are going to push him right over the edge! Nightwing has almost no hope left until the chance for vengeance presents itself. What decisions will he make? ”

    Could Dick be the one to suffer the most from the silver dome?

  23. My money is on Jim Gordon’s head being under the platter. Calling it now.

    • Maybe under Batgirls platter, but I think it’s Alfred under Batmans. I just can’t figure why they would kill Gordon after going through the trouble of de-aging him.

    • Maybe it’ll be Alfred’s “head” and Gordon’s “head”, but it’ll turn out to be that it is just their face skins on some other peoples heads. That way eventually you get the characters back with some hefty plastic surgery (or, er…staples).

    • Was it really that much trouble though?