If you've been reading the Endgame story arc by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, you know Joker is back and he's not playing any games. After being absent for nearly two years, Joker has returned with a vengeance. Spurned over the events of Death of the Family, this is a more motivated Joker. As he's made his first move against Batman and Gotham City, we're finding out more about Joker that just might change what we and Batman thought we knew about him.
BATMAN #37 is on sale today. There will be some minor spoilers below so be warned.
COMIC VINE: Joker is done playing around with Batman but does he want to make him suffer first by destroying Gotham?
SCOTT SNYDER: Oh yeah. He wants him to see how insignificant he is. He wants to show him, “I could have always done this to you, but I played along with you for a long time, hoping you would see what you’re supposed to be. Because you rejected that and rejected me, I’m going to crush you in a way that shows you how incredibly meaningless your whole mission has been.
CV: Joker could’ve just taken him out at the end of 36.
SS: Right. Well…I don’t know if he could’ve taken him out. I wouldn’t go that far because maybe Batman could have gotten out of it somehow. Or he might have survived. I would say he’s certainly out to punish him.
CV: Can we assume you intended the opening for issue 37 to be similar to the opening of 15?
SS: Yeah, it’s meant to be a mirror of that issue. That issue was largely about Batman, or Bruce, convincing himself that Joker was just a person. He’s made of meat and bone and gristle so don’t be afraid of him. Here, he’s trying to convince himself that he, Bruce, is somehow is, at least figuratively, more than just the bone and gristle and meat. He’s Batman. He can do this. He isn’t just Bruce Wayne. He’s bigger than that. He has to be to win.
It’s meant to be a complete inversion of that issue where, at the end of the issue, it’s meant to be Joker reducing him to the smallest possible thing he could be. With that phone call, he’s just saying, without spoiling it for anyone that hasn’t read it, “You think you’re so special, you’re big, larger than life. No, you’re actually just this. I know it and I see it. You’re just done.”
CV: Can we also assume Joker’s been working on his new toxin since the last time we saw him?
SS: Yeah, he definitely has plans that have to do with why he was at Arkham. He worked on things while he was at Arkham. He was planning. He’s been setting this up for a long time. It really began the moment Death of the Family ended. After that last encounter, it was like, “Alright. You want to play that way? That’s it.”
CV: In 36, did he somehow get his old face/skin back from Joker’s Daughter that he held up to Batman? Was it another fake face or something?
SS: No, that’s his real face. He got it back.
CV: So that’s something we may see addressed in an upcoming issue of BATMAN ETERNAL?
SS: Yeah, it very well may be.
CV: With Gotham getting attacked again, is real estate really cheap? Why don’t people move away?
SS: I always ask myself that. Why would you ever live in Gotham? It seems awful, right? It’s always that you’re under attack or gloomy. It’s awful. I think the reason people stay in Gotham is because they know if they stay and can fight through the challenges and all the things the city throws at them, they’ll come out better for it. That’s part of the lesson from Batman, I think. Because he’s in Gotham, what he says is tragedy, adversity, any obstacle thrown at you in life by the city, if you overcome it, you’ll be a better hero for it.
CV: For those that haven’t read the issue yet, will we finally get the answer to whether or not Joker knows Batman’s identity? Are there any tricks here?
SS: Oh yeah, everything is definitive in this. Nothing is going to be ambiguous. This is really meant to be if I had a chance with Greg and the team to do the last Batman/Joker story for our continuity from our own imagination, what would it be? It’s really the highest stakes possible, the highest level of drama. We’re really not leaving anything on the table with them.
CV: We see the return of a character from Zero Year. Will this character start to have more of a presence in the title, if he survives?
SS: Yeah. Duke is a character we tried to hint that he has a place in Gotham. Whether in costume or not, I sort of leave that out of it at this point. But he’s absolutely important to me, personally and to the team…yes, there are plans for him.
CV: It seems you might be changing Joker to having an even bigger presence in Gotham. Anything you can say about that?
SS: Well, that’s just what he’s saying. He’s saying, “I’ve been here longer than you. I’m larger than you. I’m stronger than you. I’ve just been pretending all this time to be what you think I am. I’ve been playing a game with you because I thought you’d come around. But because you didn’t, now all bets are off. I’m going to take my real face off and show you who I am.” That’s kind of what he’s saying. It’s up to you, the reader, whether you believe him or not. I think Bruce and Jim would never ever in a million years believe that. It’s really who’s side you’re on ultimately. It’s about what you choose to believe when reading the story. Hopefully that’s part of the fun of it.
CV: Because this arc is halfway over, have you written the end, issue 40?
SS: I’m writing issue 40 pretty much now. For me, it’s almost over. It’s hard to write it too, I’m telling you. Crazy stuff happens in this one. It really really changes a lot for us. We come out on the other side very different.
BATMAN #37 is now on sale. Make sure you go and buy it to see what happens next.