Final Analysis: Batman: Endgame (Issues 35 – 40)


With DC’s Convergence upon us, and Bruce Wayne’s future a bit of a murky mess at the moment, there’s no better time to look at Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s new 52 Batman swan song, “Endgame.” The six-issue story arc (Batman #35-40) book-ended rather nicely, with the first two issues and the last two issues of the arc being the strongest.

FYI.  Spoilers abound from here on out …

The first issue of the story arc opens with the members of the Justice League taking on an armored Batman, one by one. I’ll tell you, any time DC can trot out Batman in any kind of armor, they will. That’s not a bad thing, either, because in this case, it’s interesting to see how Batman would deal with the individual members of the League gone awry.

This is as good a point to talk about Greg Capullo’s art as any other. Capullo’s art is on point. To be honest, I half suspect the reason the Justice League is included at all in this story is to give Capullo the opportunity to pencil all the heroes. Take a look at the cover of Endgame, Part 2 (Batman #36). When, if ever, have you seen Superman that bloodthirsty? Capullo’s art throughout the arc, hell all through this long running series, continues to be excellent.

Without getting too detail oriented, Batman deals with each member of the Justice League in turn, with Superman being the showdown everyone really wants to see. How does it end? Bruce says it succinctly enough in Part 2 of the arc: “Neither of us.”

It’s really the middle two issues of the story I have problems with. The need for Joker to go after Gordon, the inclusion of Duke (and his parents) seem …I don’t know. Heavy handed? Yea, I get Gordon was on his way to figuring out what Joker’s secret. And I understand what the Joker was doing in both cases, but story-wise, with so much going on already around Gotham (the citizenry taken over by Joker’s new toxin) it all seems completely unneeded.

But the most unnecessary part of it all? The Joker dismembering Alfred’s hand. What was the point? In the context of the story, Joker is a wild card. He’s messing with Bruce, he cuts the right hand off of Bruce’s “right hand” man. I get it. But was it necessary? Was it really needed to further the story? I believe I read somewhere that Snyder wanted Alfred to lose his hand to the Joker in the “Death of the Family” story arc, but was nixed by DC. Maybe the dismemberment makes more sense in that story arc than in Endgame? Maybe? Either way, I didn’t like it.

However, if that moment was the low point of Endgame, then the teaming up of Batman’s Rogues Gallery with members of the Bat-family to save Gotham has to be the climb up to the high point of the story. I say there’s nothing better than when sworn enemies have to come together to fight a more powerful common enemy. What’s that old proverb? The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That’s certainly the case here. And to see Bane, Clayface, Mr. Freeze and company stand with Red Robin, Batgirl and Red Hood is a great moment in the story.

I said that was the climb to the high point of the story, though. The best part of the whole series is the part I didn’t see coming a million miles away, even though “they” were yakking it up in Part 4 of the series. Mere pages through the last issue of the arc, when all hope is lost, there’s the Joker propping up a defeated Batman, pontificating. Monologuing, if you will. The Joker reaches down and pulls off Batman’s mask to show Bruce Wayne the mess that’s left of his world.

Only it’s not Bruce Wayne. It’s flippin’ Dick Grayson.

Man! I must’ve read those couple of pages at least 50 times. Dick Grayson! Ha! And it’s not like Snyder pulled Grayson out of his butt, either. He laid the groundwork in issue 38 (Part 4) when Bruce called on Dick for some help. I’ll tell you, those few pages in issue 40 saved Endgame from what could have been an otherwise mediocre story arc.

As a side note, I really don’t like Grayson when he’s not Nightwing. Now I’m not saying I don’t like him as Batman, because I do. As far as I’m concerned, Grayson is heir apparent to the cowl. But this whole “Mission Impossible” thing DC Comics has Grayson mimicking right now? Not a fan. At all.

But I digress.

There’s a nice little fight between the real Bats and Joker at the end of the story. A tit for tat, trading punches, brutal kind of street fight. They both go the distance, neither one besting the other for too long. And quite literally beating each other to death. At least we can only assume that they both died down in the cavern, mere steps in front of the Dionesium pool that would’ve given both of them immortality.

There is an epilogue, one that I could’ve done without. A conversation between a still convalescing Alfred and his daughter, taking place two weeks later. A conversation about a cryptic note left by Bruce. I’ve read a few interpretations of the meaning of the note left behind, and I’m not sure I’m buying it. I’m not sure Bruce Wayne/Batman would leave a note behind with only the word “Ha” inscribed on it. No matter what kind of change of heart Bruce may have had about the Joker or even death itself, I just don’t see it as Bruce’s MO.

Still, I guess that’s neither here nor there, really. Overall, Endgame was a strong enough story arc, with some really high points. The question that remains, though, is what happens now? What happens with the closing of the New 52 chapter of DC’s history? That remains to be seen. With spoilers abounding on the internets in regards to another armored Batman, Jim Gordon and a New God, I’m sure Snyder and Capullo have something interesting up their sleeves for all of us to rage on about.

Next: Batman #40 Review

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