Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Colourist: Fco Plascencia
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Previously, in Batman: Bruce Wayne has defeated the Court of Owls and his supposed brother, Thomas Wayne Jr. He thinks that this is the toughest battle he has fought for a long time. He is wrong. There is another, someone who Batman has battled numerous times, each more chilling and depraved than the last. And he hasn’t heard from this person in months, which can only mean one thing—the Joker is planning something.
The last time the Joker was in Gotham, he had a run-in with the Dollmaker, a strange villain who literally peeled the face off of the Clown Prince of Crime. Since then, he has been missing but now he has returned, and the Bat-Family must beware.
Y’know when comics or movies, or anything really, are hyped up to such a level that you never think they’d be able to meet it? And then, they go ahead and smash your expectations to pieces, being even better than you dare to dream? Say hello to Batman #13. The Joker is back, and he is here to wreck Gotham, Batman, and everyone in between.
The opening sequence of this issue seems a bit inconsequential when you first read it. The issue opens with Harvey Bullock and Jim Gordon on the roof of Police Plaza, discussing Jim’s newest attempt to quit smoking, and it doesn’t really seem to have much impact…and then a few pages later, you’ll wish the issue had opened with something, anything else. Once the Joker arrives on the scene, this issue gets creepier and creepier, building to the final few pages that will make many a fan drop their issue and shout “NO!” at the top of their lungs.
There are many interpretations of the Joker across Bat-media, and this is the Joker taken to the extreme. With a single minded purpose, he is out to do what he does best, and Batman is firmly in his sights. I personally haven’t read a Joker story where he is this ferocious, and yet still making some sick jokes as he goes along. This version of the Joker means business, and that is evident from the first few pages onwards. The Joker’s new plan isn’t quite revealed beyond wanting to do what he usually does, but the way that it is built up, with the use of omens in the first sequence and then Bruce and Alfred’s conversation halfway through the issue shows that this isn’t your usual Batman story.
As usual, there’s a back-up story included in this issue that highlights the relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn, who plays a small role in the main story, but gets the spotlight here. For those of you that have ever thought that the Joker cared about Harley, if this back-up doesn’t change your mind, nothing will. Combined with Jock’s chilling artwork, these few pages don’t let up on the creepiness that the lead story starts off at all.
Speaking of art, Greg Capullo is once again on top form during this issue. His choice of camera angles during the Joker’s scenes helps to exacerbate the feeling of claustrophobia and fear that the story demands, and his facial expressions are full of terror on all the right levels. His new interpretation of the Joker after his unfortunate face-lift is also terrifying, added to the fact that the Joker’s normal purple suit is missing, which once again adds to the fact that this isn’t a Joker we’ve ever seen before. Capullo and Snyder are working in total tandem with this story it seems, even more so than before.
Whatever you were expecting with this issue, you’ll get that, and even more. If the Court of Owls was Snyder and Capullo’s action/adventure story, Death of the Family is their horror entry into the Batman mythos. Bring a spare pair of underwear when you read this issue, you’re definitely going to need it.
GO Rating: 5/5