comic books

Batman #39 Review: Joker’s origin will never be revealed (which is a good thing)

batman 39 review jokerBig spoilers about to follow for Batman #39: so heroes unite with villains and butler’s hands get chopped off, the Joker is fear and chaos personified, especially because his character is such an enigma. There’s been a lot of (misinformed) whining about the Joker’s ‘new origin’ in this Batman: Endgame arc, but I think Batman #39 made it pretty clear, that there is no definitive Joker origin. So let’s discuss Batman #39!

With only one issue left in Scott Snyder’s spectacular Endgame arc, Batman #39 was action packed. The story was so fast paced it felt like I had only read 5 pages before the issue ends on a cliffhanger.

First of all, it was great to see the Court of Owls in the issue. Even with their huge egos, and grand speeches, Batman could give no shits. All his mind is on is getting the cure, and finding out if the Joker is immortal.

Meanwhile the Joker is having his own little adventure in the Batcave. Now some people have speculated that this whole Batman: Endgame arc is some kind of delusion, that it’s not really happening at all. The things that happen in Endgame are so insane, it makes you question whether this is actually happening. For example the Joker…chopped Alfred’s hand off. Like what??? Is Alfred going to have one hand now?? I just…this whole arc has been so insane.

Then in a moment that reminded me of Burton’s first Batman film, the Joker starts a parade. Of course once again the Joker makes his whole absurdist stance clear, making his usual speech about the meaninglessness of life. 

batman 39 joker paradeBatman’s great plan for stopping all of this is uniting with the villains of Gotham to stop the Joker. It’s truly sweet that the two sides can put their differences aside to stop this maniacal guy. This maniacal guy who teases that he is about to unleash his “best trick of all”.

What could possibly top what he has already done? Snyder has teased that this will be the last of Joker we will see for a while, so it’s safe to assume that what ever it is, it will be big.

But now let’s discuss the Joker’s origin. I’ve seen a lot of complaining about Snyder’s new origin for the Joker. The origin being that, the Joker is in fact immortal. I have already discussed that I believe this is not the case, and the illusion of the immortal Joker is to simply enforce to Batman that he is just a man, that he cannot save the world because of his mortal limitations.

The story attached to the end of #Batman 39 shows us the reveal of a book Dr Zaheer had been writing, ‘Clown Prince: The true story of the Joker’. Zaheer believes she had finally figured out the true origin of the Joker. That his name was ‘William Distal’. She believed William Distal, aka the Joker’s sister went missing when he was a child, so out of fear his family abandoned him. He ended up in several foster homes, and grew up to be a bully who liked to turn people against each other. It’s a pretty simple story, but of course it wasn’t true.

batman 39 review jokerZaheer’s work was all for nothing, and in his creepy little speech to her he says, “Where I always go. To that little corner in the back of your head where all the bad things hide.That’s where I’m really from. That’s the real truth of it. I prefer not to think of it as multiple choice…it’s more choose-your-own-adventure”.

And really that’s the only truth about the Joker we will ever know. He is our greatest fear. He is this force of chaos. He is especially scary because we don’t know him as a person. He’s more myth than man. We don’t know how he was like as a little boy, don’t know what happened to him to make him this way, and that’s scary, the unknown nature of the Joker.

I have no idea what’s going to go down in Batman #40, but Batman #39 really showed the fear the Joker can bring out. Batman, out of fear, was forced to team-up with Gotham villains. Zaheer, out of fear, shot herself.

Overall Batman #39 was an intense, action-packed issue, however failed to really reveal anything new, but was a great set-up to the final issue of the Endgame arc. This insane arc is perfectly fitting for the insane Joker. But now the big question mark is, how can Snyder possibly wrap up this story? (And what is going to happen to the one-handed Alfred now???).

16 replies »

  1. I don’t think it can be said enough how amazing Batman: Endgame has been so far. You know the situation is bad when, not only is Batman willing to go to the Court of Owls and some of his classic villains for help, but he even admits straight up that his plan sucks.


  2. I really loved this issue!! But what I am fearing is that this is only happening in Bruce’s head. I have had this feeling ever since the 3rd part. I hope I’m wrong, because that would be dissappointing, but since the first arc I have the feeling that Snyder is someone who doesn’t take risks, who doesn’t dare to crumble and shake Batman mythos. He’s a superb writer, and his stories are really fun to read, but so far his resolutions don’t convince me: The brother who may be, may be not, or the whole death of the family being a joke (he didn’t dare, for instance, to really cut off Alfred’s face, or to kill off a member of the family), even Zero Year was a little bit dissappointing.
    In the first issue of this arc, they showed us that Bruce was experimenting hallucinations, and all were about many ways to die, so I really hope this doesn’t end up being just another of those hallucinations… On the other hand, the art was really beutiful, altough I will always have issues with the fact that Capulllo seems to draw a really young Batman, who doesn’t feel like he has been fighting crime for over 5 years… anyway… I’d give this issue 10/10…


  3. I think the point of this issue’s back-up story was to establish that every supposed Joker “origin” presented in this arc (or ever) is false. Snyder probably has a few tricks up his sleeve since he usually answers the big questions in the final issues of his arcs. Who knows what that 400-year old Talon said to Batman either.


    • Exactly! Well Snyder said he was going to reveal what the Talon told Batman in #40, but either way we will never have a definitive Joker origin story, because his character is better without one.


      • Yup, I’ll always agree it’s better that way… The theory I have is that there always has been a ‘pale man’ in Gotham, which time to time comes back in one way or another, and now it’s taken the form of the Joker, however it’s not the same being though, we’ve always been hinted that Gotham is a cursed city… we saw part of it in The Return of Bruce Wayne as well, and altough that journey through time has been erased of continuity, I believe there’s still material for use it… so that may be part of the ‘curse’ of Gotham, from time to time someone is destined to find and merge with this ‘dionisium’ and become the pale man… kind of what they told us in Detective Comics #27 special issue, in the story called “Twenty-Seven”…


      • That’s an interesting theory, and definitely something along the lines of what Snyder would write. Gee the one month wait until #40 is going to be painful


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