Snyder, Capullo, and Glapion Bring the Batman Story arc Death of the Family to its second last issue with Batman#16, a story about an King returning to his castle, and greeting his court jester – The Joker.
Themes of Royalty, Kings, and Kingdoms that Snyder stated would be the Joker’s plan of attack against Batman come to fruition. A wide variety of lettering and colouring choices build suspense, elicit actions, and command dread – shadows and darkness are absolutely black, and the lettering captures the sounds of the beleaguered asylum. the issue takes the reader on Batman’s journey through a transformed Arkham Asylum, and the sense of his fear is palpable. Batman, however, thrives on fear.
The Joker has given names and titles to familiar members of Batman’s rogues Gallery:
- Asylum Guards and Staff are Servants and Peasants.
- Inmates of the Asylum are Knights.
- Mr.Freeze is Batman’s groundsman.
- Clayface is the royal player.
- Scarecrow is the royal physician.
- Penguin is the king’s Bishop.
- The Riddler is the Royal Strategist.
- Two-face is the king’s Judge.
I’m not sure if Poison Ivy should appear there, or if there is a queen. Regardless, the art used to depict how the characters take on their roles conveys depth in the story. The guards and staff are dressed in Batman and Joker costumes, and forced to dance for days. The Joker’s relies on symbolic torture to make his statements. Their endless dancing is a parody of the endless conflict between the Joker and the Dark Knight.
Batman literally becomes a dark knight after the battle with the inmates – Joker’s knights. The battle takes place with a fuzzy filter over the panels after Batman drops an explosive smoke bomb. The art jumps from point to point in the melee, and the filter effectively conveys the confusion and chaos, giving a sense of Tinnitus. There is no lettering to punctuate the scene, and it enhances the ringing chaos. After the battle, Batman mounts a black horse, and rides it up to the next level.
Of course, the Joker’s attempt at symbols falls apart and decays – How can Mr.Freeze be considered a groundsman when Poison Ivy is associated with plants? Since this is something the Joker has created, it’s really an ironic joke, and an excuse to have Batman seated on his “throne”, which is an antique electric chair. There is also a backup story where the Joker puts an arrogant Two Face in his place.