Thoughts On Batman #38 – What Is The Joker?
Well, I ended up getting my copy of Batman #38 late, due to the roads being kinda icky last night (although that didn’t stop me from reading spoilers, because dammit, after last issue, the hell if I was gonna wait any longer than I had to in order to find out what the hell is going on). Since its release yesterday, Scott Snyder has clarified a few details for the sake of those wondering.
- This is NOT a dream, illusion, or hallucination. What Batman is going through is 100% REAL, so theories that this is another worst case scenario brought on by the Scarecrow’s fear toxins are incorrect, though it’s likely that the payoff for that is that Batman goes through the horrid nightmares of his end, but is able to cheat death where it counts most.
- The Joker DOES know now that Batman is Bruce Wayne. There’re no more implications, suggestions, doubts, or theories, HE KNOWS. As such, all bets are off regarding what Joker can and will do to Batman now.
So, let’s get down to the question at the core of everything going on in this story: What is the Joker? Is he human, or some kind of monster? Is he mortal, or immortal? Well, before we get to that, I can clear this much up: Regardless of what he is, there IS something in his bloodstream that has a regenerative factor to it. He was shot through the chest and didn’t die. Ergo, whether or not he’s always had it, the fact is, Joker cannot be killed right now, so even if Batman was finally willing to cross that line, the end result is that he cannot kill him.
Regarding whether or not Joker could possibly be an immortal that’s been haunting Gotham City for at least a hundred years. Well, here was the argument that kept getting in the way of that for me: “How can Joker be immortal, have been seen in Gotham for at least a hundred years, and have that same pale face to boot throughout that time, when he only got it when he fell into the chemical bath?” And we HAVE established that this part of his history is still canon, having occurred during the Zero Year story-arc. However, here’s the counter-argument I eventually came to: “How do you know he got that face from the chemical bath? The only proof you have are flashbacks provided by Joker’s own narration, and his tales of his past have proven he’s either a liar or doesn’t remember his own past. In fact, how did he even survive the fall to begin with? Furthermore, how did he manage to survive everything he has, from falls off cliffs to escaping deadly explosions to even surviving the process of having his face cut off?” I’ll admit, at that point, I was kinda stumped to come up with a logical explanation for all of that, especially since so much of who Joker is and his past is kept a mystery. Remember, Zero Year suggested that he WASN’T the leader of the Red Hood Gang, but an impostor that had taken his place after the real one died. And then there’s the cave he had of other Harley Quinns he’d supposedly created prior to turning Harleen Quinzel to his side, all dead. Now, one could assume he was just messing with Harley, and in fact, he very well may have, but what if he wasn’t? What if they were all allies of his throughout his years of tormenting Gotham? Finally, how can someone trump Batman at his own game as often as he has, putting the opponent at a sheer disadvantage due to prior preparation, unless he’s been playing this game far longer than him?
So, here’s what I’m thinking has happened: Either Scott Snyder has finally explained how it’s possible for Joker to have survived all he has in his career as a Batman villain, OR has created a reasonable enough conclusion for people to come to before throwing the rug out from under them. Either way, though, when I realized he’d done one of these two things, I was torn between my admiration of his brilliance and my need to punch the beautiful bastard. lol And for that matter, I love what else he’s done, in involving Bruce’s uncle’s associates, having this story be a sequel to Death of the Family, and having Bruce finally decide to get his answers on whether Joker is immortal or not from, of all people, the Court of Owls. This is taking everything he and Greg Capullo have done in their time on the book and bringing it all together for one big climax. And the bizarre thing is, it’s not even the end! They’re still on-board for the book post-Convergence, which I keep hearing is supposed to get insane with how things change for Batman afterward. If THIS isn’t the part where things get crazy, then I gotta see what the hell those evil geniuses have in mind for post-Convergence.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on Batman #38. Lemme know your own theories on what’s happening with Joker in the comments below, and we’ll see how things turn out as Endgame winds down to a close over the next couple of months. Ja né!