This series is quickly coming to a close, with this being the penultimate issue. Batman is currently locked up in Arkham, and Jack Napier is showing signs of the Joker persona re-emerging. To top it all off, Neo-Joker is holding the city hostage. This issue sets the stage for the final confrontation in the final issue.
Batman sits in the background of his cell at Arkham, with the Joker smiling triumphantly in the foreground. The Joker almost seems to be a meld between the Jack Napier and Joker personalities, with Joker acting as the more dominant, or emerging personality. The cover is simple, elegant, and showing the ‘villain’ as triumphant. A great start to set the stage for what we’ll find inside.
The art is as good as it has been in past issues. It paints a wonderful canvas to support and aid in the telling of the story, and fits it like a glove. It can be dark and gritty at some points, and softer and light in others, most notably when Jack and Harley are talking outside in the snow. This is a series that set a high bar artistically early in the series and has maintained it throughout.
Here is where we start to come full circle. Murphy opened issue #1 with Batman and Jack speaking face to face in Batman’s cell in Arkham, then spent 6 straight issues showing how that confrontation came about. Well, we’re all caught up. Jack Napier can no longer deal with Neo-Joker on his own, and at the advice of Harley, he goes to Batman for help. One small problem though: Jack is having trouble keeping the Joker chained. As the issue builds towards the climactic final issue, we have to wonder if Jack will survive this, will Batman and his nemesis be able to save Gotham, will the dark history of the Wayne family be exposed, and most importantly, how it will all end. This issue does an excellent job of setting the stage for the end of the story, and it really can’t come soon enough!
Reviews of the previous issues can be found here: