Evil Geek Book Report – Batman #17
Today we review Batman #17 in our Evil Geek Book Report! If you listened to our Bat-Cast a couple days ago than you know exactly how excited that we were to get our hands on this book and overall I’d say this it did not disappoint. This review will be spoiler-heavy so if you haven’t read it yet, then stop now and get your hands on the book, otherwise feel free to proceed!
Issue 17 was the finalé to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Death of the Family storyline, in which we saw the Joker return from a year-long hiatus a very changed clown. In the early issues of Detective Comics at the launch of the New 52, Joker has his face removed (kinda like in the movie Face Off,) and then disappears. The face is then stored in the GCPD. When Joker comes back to town he is definitely changed, in fact I’d say that he is even more twisted and somewhat scary than he has been in years. In the past I always remember Joker killing people with a gag, or a bomb, or possibly a gun but this story had him getting his hands dirty. It starts out with him dismantling the Police Department and offing them one by one in the dark. Then he goes after Alfred and kidnaps him. From there Batman confronts him and he lets him know that he knows the Bats secret and the identity of the entire Bat-Family. He also lets him know that the Family is what is keeping him weak and that they need to be removed so he can become a better Batman! Obviously this makes them freak out and come to the cave. Bruce tells them that one time early in his career he was battling the Joker but he had fallen in the harbor. Bruce took the bat-Boat to find him but was unsuccessful and returned to the cave and went into the manor. Upon returning he found a Joker playing card in the water near the boat. Bruce was convinced that it was somehow adhered to the boat and that there was no possible way that he could have gotten into the cave, but the family is not convinced and in fact were upset that this secret was hidden for so long, plus they want to know why Joker would take Alfred and Bruce tries to tie it to Batman Inc., which their not buying either. From that point you can really choose as a reader to stick to the Batman book or read the ancillary stories of the Bat-Family (which I did.) In their own books, the Bat-Family has their own run-ins with the Joker and he eventually kidnaps them all. The main Batman book follows Bruce to Arkham Asylum, where we learn that Joker has been in control for some time planning his confrontation with Batman and converting Arkham somewhat into a castle for his Bat-King. Joker even calls in the other Rogues to make Batman run a gauntlet to get to him, which is a great read. Eventually Joker shows Batman a video feed of him torturing the Bat-Family and Batman submits to Jokers wishes to sit in an electric chair and get a little fried. The backstory of the book also showed Joker holding a covered platter that he revealed to the Rogues and they looked quite surprised. The ending of the ancillary titles leading up to Batman 17 all had the image of Joker holding one of those platters, which sent the net into a frenzy with what could be on them.
Issue 17 kicks off with Joker waking Bats up to see the whole Bat-Family sitting around a table with their faces covered with bags. Batman flips when he sees this, and Joker calls for Alfred (which many people were afraid was dead!) Alfred is strung out on Joker venom and really looks twisted. Despite Bruce’s attempts to speak with Alfred, our favorite butler takes the hoods off of everyones heads to reveal the entire Bat-Family with bloody rags all over their faces. Then the big reveal of the platters shows each members face that has been cut off! CRAZY SHIT I tell ya! This, along with the Jokers non-stop monologue drives Batman crazy and from there Bats devises a way to escape that has the potential to harm his friends, but he quickly comes up with a way to take make sure they are OK. Joker flees and is angered because his plan didn’t work. Paranoid Batman would have just gone after the Joker, but our new Batman went directly to Damian to take the bandages off to see his face to reveal that it was fine and this whole thing was an elaborate prank by the Joker. From there Bruce hugs Damian and shows one the most tender moments that I’ve ever seen from Batman. Bruce wants to stay, but Dick tells him to go after the Joker and finish it.
Bats finds the Joker and goes after him. Somehow the Joker gets a crowbar but Bats smacks it out of his hand and then hits him with it! Seriously, even since the famous beating that Jason Todd took with a crowbar, I get so excited when I see them in a Batman book… it means shits going down! 🙂 After Bats leave the room with the Family, Joker gasses them and tells Bruce that either he can save them from ripping each other apart or stay with him. Bruce has one of the best lines and tells Joker that “He has faith in them,” which really shows how the New 52 Batman is so much different than the paranoid Batman that we had in the old Universe. Joker runs again and almost falls off a ledge but Batman grabs him and decides to turn the tables on him and tell him that he figured it out, he knew who he was. He gets in to tell him and Joker takes a leap off the ledge and the face falls off…his body drops fast and Capullo draws the face slowly falling down! Great scene! The Bat-Family gains control and then Bruce comes back for them. This scene was awesome because it showed Bruce absolutely fucking with Joker with his own craziness and was reminiscent of the dialogue from Dark Knight Returns too!
We end with Alfred resting in bed and Bruce acting as his caretaker. Bruce has asked the family to come talk with him, but no-one shows. He asked Dick what the Joker said to them and he replies that it doesn’t matter. In the end Bruce tells Alfred that he knew the Joker never really cared about his identity because it would ruin his fun and that he went to visit him early in his career in Arkham as Bruce Wayne. Also, he tells Alfred that there was an odd checmical in the Joker gas that he was still looking into. The issue ends with a screen of Joker on the Bat-Computer with “Identity Unknown,” and a synthesis of the chemical, known as Element 105: Dubnium with the original symbol of Ha!
As a Bat-fan I was very happy with the issue. No-one died but the family has been changed forever. Joker did some crazy shit to them all and told them some awful things about the Batman that nobody has revealed yet, so as we discussed in our Bat-cast the other day, the Bat-Family has been brutally shaken simply by mistrust. With that said, I see a more caring Bruce Wayne in the New 52 who will try to mend those fences, as he feels that he is strongest with his family. Per usual, Joker gets away in a pseudo-death scene, so I’ll be very interested to see what he is like upon his return.
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