After seven short months, Batman & The Joker: The Deadly Duo has concluded. In this issue, everything is revealed and we are treated to a few twists. So far, this title has been nothing but great. Can it stick the landing though?
Well… yes. There were a few things that bothered me and I’ll touch on them momentarily but by and large I was very happy with this conclusion. The way Silvestri wraps up the plot was a particular highlight. I found that it cleared up any lingering uncertainties I had about possible plot holes and went a long way toward justifying the existence of the book. Silvestri makes use of the concept of Joker considering Batman his friend in some twisted way. This has been done before (see Death of the Family or The Lego Batman Movie) but what I like in this case is the way it’s utilized. In previous stories that use the idea, we usually see Joker becoming fed up with Batman and trying to kill him for one reason or another. It is usually portrayed as a “lover-scorned” type of story. Here, Joker isn’t out to get Batman at all. In fact, his whole motivation is to keep Batman’s secret identity from getting out. The conflict as Batman saw it was manufactured through the separate machinations of Joker and Amanda Simms and the final reveals show the plot to be satisfyingly complex yet coherent. It does typify the elements that make up a strong Batman story.
As I said, there were a few moments I want to nitpick. I’d say there is significantly more detective work in this story than most other recent Batman publications but it still wasn’t as much as I’d have liked. In the end, Joker essentially calls Batman just to clear up some plot points. It would have been nice if Batman could have discovered these things without a villain monologue. That said, I want to make it clear that I appreciate how well Silvestri balanced this series. After all, he is an “action artist,” for lack of a better term. He could easily have written a brain-dead story and leaned on action alone to sell his book.
I also missed seeing Nightwing in this issue. After being a large part of the story, it seems odd that he’s nowhere to be seen in the end. But again, that’s a nitpick.
My only real complaint about this issue is the “epilogue.” I put it in quotes because it isn’t titled as such but I think that’s the best word for it. After Batman gives a very nice heartfelt monologue about his parents and his place in Gotham, the book could have ended. Instead, we get an extra two pages where Amanda Simms is given a monologue of her own. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. Not only does it feel tacked on, but it sends a weird message as well. The writing seems to be setting her up as some kind of new anti-hero in Gotham. However, this series is firmly out of continuity and I don’t expect a sequel any time soon. I can’t help but feel it’s a waste of two pages (that could have featured Nightwing). Besides that, we don’t need any more anti-heroes in Gotham and Amanda Simms doesn’t make sense in that role. She has been portrayed as a villain without caveats. Mostly, these pages struck me as an annoying post-credit scene that makes promises which will never come to fruition. I wouldn’t make such a big deal out of this but it’s the last two pages of this series and it leaves a bad final impression of a great book. That frustrates me.
These complaints aside, this is another great issue, and the art, as usual, is spectacular. Marc Silvestri will always be one of the best to ever work in the comics industry and he proves that even thirty-plus years after he came onto the scene, he still deserves that praise. This is likely the best work of his career and though I’m sure he has a lot on his plate as the CEO of Image Comics, I sincerely hope he’s able to find time to continue producing comics. I know I’ll be there for them. (Oh and I’ll just point out that Deadly Duo was never delayed. Most big names currently at DC seem to have a lot of trouble with that.)
- You want to see these characters treated with respect and written well
- Great art is your thing
- You’re unhappy with the current state of the Bat books; This one is different
Deadly Duo is a story that consistently gave me what I want from a Batman comic without ever pandering to me. It has some influence from classic stories but still feels modern and it’s the best drawn book on the stands. If you’re a Batman fan, even one tired of the Joker, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t read this comic. It shouldn’t be too long before the collected edition comes out. Give it a shot!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.