I’ve been on quite the Batman kick as of recent. I can call it making up for lost comic book reading time or call it excitement for The Dark Knight Rises. But, whatever my excuse may be, I can’t get enough.
Coming off a high from reading Batman: Earth One a few days earlier, I decided to break into my stash to read my copy of Batman: Detective Comics #1 from DC’s New 52 run. I’ve got to say, from reading Batman: Earth One just a few days before, this one is quite a turn.
This issue begins with The Joker engaging in a struggle with an unknown assailant. They wrestle and tussle and scrap until they are at each others throats. But, in a stunning twist, The Joker manages to free himself and send his foe fly with a slit throat. The man, who had a skullcap made of another person’s skin, sang his praises for The Joker as The Joker stabbed him over and over again.
In the middle of The Joker’s stabbing fury, Batman swoops in to get the bastard, but The Joker wouldn’t have it. He threw a bomb at Batman, blowing the room to smithereens, thus allowing him to make a hasty escape. But, as Batman begins to take chase, he hears a girl crying from a pile of rubble. Being the hero that Batman is, he chooses to save the girl.
Later, Batman meets up with Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the Gotham P.D. building. There, Batman learns from Gordon that the girl he saved was the niece of The Joker’s victim. She knows where The Joker is hiding out.
The Roscoe Pharmacy, second floor.
Batman swoops in and observes from a neighboring rooftop. Gordon told him that he wouldn’t be able to enter the building without the police attempting to arrest him. He observes, with his Bat-eyes (Aren’t bats blind?) that The Joker is sitting in a chair, not moving and laughing like a — Joker.
But, something is amiss, and Batman knows it. The Joker sitting in the chair was no Joker at all, but a doll with explosives inside. The fireball destroys the building and killed the cops inside, and it blew Batman from his perch across the street. As he peeled himself from a car roof, he noticed a man leaving the gawking crowd and making his way to the train station.
The Joker was trying to escape.
Batman catches up with The Joker on the train. After a little scuffle, The Joker fled the moving train with Batman in tow. But, not before he released his Venom on the train, leaving Batman a little queasy. He was so ill that he didn’t notice The Joker pull a knife. But, he did notice The Joker stab him twice.
Batman regains his advantage and pushes The Joker off the rooftop. Batman decides to send The Joker to Arkham Asylum instead of to prison. But, as Dr. Arkham leaves the room, in comes an unknown man who The Joker had been expecting. His name was The Dollmaker and he was tasked with removing The Joker’s face to facilitate his escape.
What makes the universe of The New 52 so interesting is that most, if not all, bets are off as to what will happen to Batman or any other DC character. In the past, Batman was seen as a strong force for good. Human, yes, but not too human. Before, he always had a code that said that he would do his best to not kill anyone intentionally. But, with this new universe, that code may not stand.
What DC could have done is open the door to a new, more violent Batman that we’ve never seen before. Perhaps, sometime in the future, we could see a discussion in the Batman fan world as to whether or not Batman has become just as vile and heartless as the criminals he put away.
If The Joker is willing to remove his own face to evade and/or kill Batman, who’s to say if Batman will have no choice but to kill The Joker once and for all? Will The Joker’s craziness finally send Batman past the point of no return? Who knows for now. But, I can’t sit here and pretend that I wouldn’t want to see Batman rip The Joker limb from limb as he cries out, “Uncle! Uncle!”