Lights out for Batman and Joker. For now.

by Rey Beltran |

Batman #40 disappeared faster than expected. It’s now on its third printing as of this writing. And that’s because the issue featured the unthinkable: the deaths of Batman and Joker.

Surely by now you’ve heard of it. And those who wanted to be in on the action can’t find the first print run of Batman #40. The variant first print edition with cover by Andy Kubert is now fetching a hefty $95.00 while the regular cover is in the vicinity $20.00.

Batman #40 is the finale of the story arc “Endgame” written by Batman scribe Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo. In a nutshell, “Endgame” is your ultimate Batman vs. Joker story where they both meet their end.

After being attacked by the Justice League, Batman discovers that the Leaguers were infected by a Joker toxin. Tracking the toxin to Joker proved to be deadly for Batman, as the Joker was able to incapacitate him with a paralytic gas. Batman realizes that Joker will bring their relationship to a permanent end. But first, Joker has to bring down Gotham to its knees by poisoning everyone. Recovering from the paralysis, Batman tries to stop Joker but with horrifying consequences: Gordon gets an axe on his chest, thanks to Joker; and Alfred’s hand gets chopped of by Joker. It is also revealed that Joker has regenerative abilities and he knows Batman’s true identity. Having rigged the Batcave with explosives, Batman and Joker battle it out, with Batman losing an eye in the process, and Joker’s back being broken by a stalactite. Joker manages to detonate the bomb and the Batcave collapses on them.

These are just the highlights of a very well-written story by Snyder and a mind-blowing art from Capullo. The mayhem Joker caused in the process and how the supporting characters of Batman weather everything in the process is a riveting read. The aftermath of the battle itself is one compelling narrative from Snyder. Wait for the hardcover later this year to witness for yourself the end of Batman and Joker. Or you can hunt down the individual issues of Batman #35 to Batman #40.

In the meantime, there’s a new Batman in town.  And it’s none other than James Gordon. As to how Gordon will live up to the legacy of Batman remains to be seen. Besides, there’s no such thing as a permanent death in comic books. But for now, let’s enjoy this in the hands of master storytellers Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.