“You’re bigger than your feelings. Bigger than your body. Your heart, your eyes…You’re Batman. And you’re going to stop him. Just like you always do. You’re going to stop it all.” – Batman
Over the years, there’s been many great Batman stories. But in my opinion, I’d be hard pressed to think of a more consistent duo than Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. For nearly a decade they’ve pushed The Dark Knight to new limits and redefined his mythology. It all had to lead somewhere, and that’s where Batman: Endgame comes in. The graphic novels sees The Joker return for a final confrontation with Batman after the Death of the Family arc. Here is my review.
The story begins with Bruce recovering from a new strain of fear toxin that Scarecrow has dosed him with. He’s surrounded by Alfred and his daughter Julia when he’s suddenly attacked by Wonder Woman. Batman is quick to react and dons a specialised suit that’s designed to help him defeat the Justice League. It’s not long before he’s attacked by the other members and he’s forced to take them down one by one. It’s revealed they’ve been infected with Joker venom and Bruce is nearly killed by Superman.
Batman manages to stop Superman by spitting a polymer laced with Kryptonite into his face and they crash into a river. Later, while the Justice League are being treated, Batman investigates Arkham Asylum for Joker’s whereabouts. He comes across the new Arkham caretaker, Eric Boarder, who traps him in a cell.
Joker takes off his disguise and tells Batman he’s grown bored of their relationship. He unleashes an incurable strain of Joker venom on Gotham and people start to burn the city down. Bruce hurries to come up with an antidote, while Commissioner Gordon investigates a hospital that’s the source of the infection. Gordon looks at old photographs taken at the hospital and sees Joker in them, suggesting he’s been around for hundreds of years.
Joker crawls out from beneath a table, sets fire to Gordon’s apartment, forcing the Commissioner to shoot him in the head. Gordon calls Batman to tell him what’s happened, only for Joker to come back to life.
Desperate for answers, Batman tracks down mad doctor, Paul Dekker. Dekker admits Joker has a compound in his blood called Dionesium that has made him immortal. This makes Batman confront the Court of Owls and he demands to know if Joker has been around since they were active in Gotham four hundred years ago.
Meanwhile, Joker breaks into the Bat Cave and cuts Alfred’s hand off. Then, he stages a parade in Gotham and baits Batman into trying to extract the Dionesium from his spine. Bruce turns to his allies and enemies to get through the mob. Dick Grayson poses as Batman to get Joker’s attention while Bruce finds the Dionesium pit that Joker has been using to heal himself.
“Turn over, Bruce. I want you to look at me. I want you to see me for who I really am! Because I’m the one who laughs, you get it?! I’ve always been there, laughing at you, at all of you, at the great joke, that you think your lives have meaning!” – The Joker
In the bowels of Gotham, Batman and Joker engage in a brutal fight until both are exhausted. The caverns start to crumble and as Joker tries to crawl to the Dionesium pit, Batman holds onto him. He asks his nemesis to forgive him for not seeing what he was blind to and they bleed out together.
The story ends with Alfred refusing to have his hand reattached because there’s no one left to mend anymore. Bruce has left behind a letter and Alfred says the following:
“The story of Batman is, and always will be, a tragedy. Bruce would never let it be anything else. Batman could live forever. He could escape. But he doesn’t. He dies. Just like every one of us, even though he doesn’t have to. That’s his flaw. But it’s also his greatest strength. The very thing that makes him immortal.”
Snyder wraps up the themes from his previous arcs and paints a haunting picture of immortality. Batman: Endgame is an inverse of Death of the Family, with Joker showing his hatred for the Dark Knight. This Joker is focused, unhinged and committed to destroying Batman once and for all. The Joker of Endgame is a jilted lover, lashing out and determined to create as much damage as possible.
Snyder’s Batman is more determined than ever, but there’s a fallibility about him that reminds the reader he’s only human. This is bolstered by Capullo’s wonderful art. He’s able to capture the emotion on Bruce’s face in every panel, both in and out of the suit.
Batman: Endgame is one of my favourite Batman stories of all time and I couldn’t recommend it enough. To get a better appreciation for the story, I’d also read Batman: Death of the Family. Check out my review here.