Among the slew of comic book titles brought to us by DC Comics’ New 52 reboot, it is hard to top Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s time on “Batman.” Although the pair refreshed the caped crusader with plenty of new ideas and an undeniable energy, Synder and Capullo never lost sight of what makes Batman work. Although it was was dark, action packed, emotional and at times fun, the New 52’s caped crusader was always undeniably “Batman.” In short, Snyder and Capullo’s take on “Batman” wasn’t just good; it was downright masterful.
Join us as we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy moments from the dynamic duo’s time on “Batman.” For the sake of simplicity, the following list only looks at moments from the main “Batman” series from DC Comic’s New 52 and none of the other bat-titles.
SPOILER WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for “Batman” issues #1 to 50.
15. BATMAN AND JOKER TEAM-UP
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s time on “Batman” started with an unorthodox team-up. The opening pages in the first issue of “Batman” featured the unlikely spectacle of Batman working with his arch-nemesis, the Joker. Trapped in Arkham Asylum and surrounded by a good portion of his rouges gallery, Batman fought his way out with an assist from the Clown Prince of Crime.
Surprisingly in-sync, the pair gracefully kicked and punched their way through some of Gotham’s deadliest villains. A few pages later in the issue, it is revealed that — of course — the figure fighting beside Batman in Arkham wasn’t actually the Joker. In a somewhat predictable (but no less fun) revelation, it turned out Batman’s fighting partner was actually Dick Grayson, which made sense given the Joker’s use of an acrobatic fighting style during the scene. Clad in a digital mask and wearing a black dinner suit, the former Robin made for a convincing homicidal maniac. Score one for Alfred’s school of acting!
14. THE BAT-TRUCK
After the supposed death of Bruce Wayne at the end of the “Endgame” story-line, the weight of the Bat-Mantle fell upon the shoulders of Jim Gordon. As well as having the corporate backing of “Powers International,” a robotic suit and a team of support staff, Jim’s new gig as Batman also came with a sweet-ride. After continually complaining about his lack of a Batmobile, Jim finally gets one. Only… it isn’t exactly a Batmobile as much as it is a giant Bat-Truck.
As well as being a mobile command center, the gargantuan black vehicle can also lock onto Batman’s location and come to him on command. Instead of using this feature to get around Gotham quicker, Jim uses it for a more creative purpose. When losing to supervillain Gee Gee Heung — who can turn himself into a golem made from bricks, cement and tar — Batman calls the Bat-Truck to assist. Deploying from the Bat-Blimp, the Bat-truck hurtles to the earth, crushing Gee Gee Heung and giving Jim the upper hand in the fight.
13. IN THE LION’S DEN
The post-apocalyptic madness of “Zero Year” brought us a different side of Batman. Sure, Bruce loves his gadgets, but Batman is so much more than fancy toys. Nothing shows this quite as well as the caped crusader’s run-in with the king of beasts in “Zero Year’s” third and final chapter, aptly named “Savage City.” After facing off with the Riddler — the villain who plunged Gotham into the post-apocalypse style conditions of “Zero Year” and considers himself the ruler of this new Gotham — Batman is sent to a lion pit underneath the city via a trapdoor.
Awaiting Batman at the bottom of the pit are two hungry lions, eager to feast on fresh meat. In a feat highlighting his ingenuity and fighting prowess, Batman takes down the two beasts with relative ease. This scene was a whole lot of fun and felt like Snyder and Capullo were playing around with what they could get away with in a Batman comic, seeing how far they could take Batman out of his element while still making the character work.
12. THE PARK BENCH
The Batman/Joker dynamic is possibly the most interesting, and admittedly well-mined relationship in all of comics. Just about every writer to touch “Batman” has explored the ying and rang relationship of the Bat and the clown; however, none have done it quite like Snyder and Capullo. In the waning days of their now legendary run on “Batman,” an understated — yet unforgettable — scene takes place between the two characters. And it happens on a park bench of all places.
What makes this interaction so starkly different than any that has come before is the fact that — well, as far as we know — Joker isn’t trying to pull anything and Batman isn’t trying to stop him. Stripped of their memories and previous identities — thanks to having both technically died and been brought back to life by the drug dionysium — Bruce and the Joker are just two people having a conversation on a park bench. In this simple interaction, Snyder asks a poignant question : “If it always ends the same way, then why do Batman and the Joker keep doing it?”
11. BRUCE’S HAPPY LIFE
Among the action, chaos and pai,n Synder and Capullo brought into Bruce’s life during their time on “Batman,” they also gave him a happy ending. Even if it was only for a few issues. After dying in a cave underneath Gotham to stop the Joker at the end of “Endgame,” Batman finally meets his end. Of course, this is comics and he is Batman, so it’s not long until Bruce returns to the world of the living. Only thing is, not all of him returns.
Stripped of his pain and past identity by his regeneration, Bruce is no longer Batman. Without this sense of purpose and heavy burden, Bruce becomes a philanthropist and helps run the “Lucius Fox Centre for Gotham Youth.” Without his double life as Batman, he even has time for a fulfilling romantic relationship. For a fleeting moment in his conflict filled life, Bruce gets to have a little bit of peace.
10. BATMAN VS. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
Snyder and Capullo kicked-off Batman’s “Eandgame” story arc with one of the comic’s most exciting and over-the top action sequences. The scene saw Bruce take on not one, but four super-powered foes. These weren’t just any B-grade supervillains either. They were the Justice League. Corrupted by a specially-concocted Joker Toxin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Superman all tried to kill the Bat. Of course, none of them stood a chance.
As we have come to expect from the world’s greatest detective, Batman was prepared for the occasion and developed a robotic exo-suit — nicknamed the “Justice-Buster” — to take down the Justice League. Although Batman manages to incapacitate three of the twisted heroes with relative ease, Superman doesn’t give up so easily. Held in the impossibly tight grip of the man of Steel as he flies higher and higher, Bruce manages to win the day by spitting some kryptonite gum in Superman’s face and punching him with knuckles festooned with tiny red suns.
9. THE CASTLE OF CARDS
The first “Batman” story from Synder and Capullo to star the Joker is certainly one for the books. “Death of the Family” didn’t just remind us that the Joker is Batman’s cruellest and most unhinged foe, it took his twisted nature to a whole new level. From the minute he strolled into the GCPD to retrieve his rotting face, it was clear that this “Batman” run would feature a truly terrifying Joker.
What made “Death of the Family’s” Joker even more terrifying was the fact that his violent acts towards Batman’s allies and his city weren’t an act of hate, they were an act of love. That’s right. In the eyes of the Joker “Death of the Family” is a love story. This becomes obvious in the story arc’s closing issues when the Joker traps Batman in “The Castle of Cards.” One part love letter, the other part death trap, this medieval themed house of horrors wasn’t meant to kill Batman; it was meant to make him stronger by freeing him from his pesky Bat-Family!
8. BAT-GORDON IN ACTION
With Batman out of the picture and Bruce Wayne living a happy, normal life, someone had to step up to carry the heavy mantle. Who better to be Gotham’s guardian then a man who had already spent most of his adult life protecting it as an officer of the law? We are of course referring to Commissioner Gordon.
Gordon was a new type of Batman. Not only did he use a robotic suit he called “The Rookie” and fire his batarangs from a pistol, he was also a somewhat reluctant Batman, taking on the mantle in an act of service to his city, rather than a personal mission. Regardless of his motivations, Gordon in action was a sight to behold. More unhinged than Bruce and equipped with a bad-ass robot suit, Gordon punched, kicked and stomped his way through all manner of super-powered thugs. Batman was back and he wasn’t taking any prisoners! Well, okay, he was, but… oh, you get the idea.
7. THE JOKER VS. THE GCPD
“Death of the Family’s” opening issue gave us a truly spine-tingling introduction to Snyder and Capullo’s Joker. In the hands of Snyder and Capullo, the Joker was downright terrifying. Clad in some greasy overalls from Joe’s garage, the Clown Prince of Crime stepped into the GCPD building for a violent and truly unnerving entrance. The lights were out and the Joker was in.
The Joker felt more like a slasher in a horror movie than a traditional supervillain as he strutted confidently into a room full of cops, cackling manically as he killed each of them. The Joker’s dialogue made it clear he was enjoying the bloody task, and his brutal murdering methods made the whole affair significantly creepier. It was almost as if he was using his complete lack of empathy and disregard for human life like a superpower. Not surprisingly, the only cop spared from the grizzly affair — Commissioner Gordon — was utterly shaken by what he was forced to witness.
6. BATMAN PUNCHES NIGHTWING
In-between all the superheroics and clever quips, Synder and Capullo’s Batman was somewhat sterner than past incarnations of the caped crusader. He was stubborn, reluctant to accept help and at times a loose cannon. No scene displays these aspects of Bruce quite as well as a brief moment near the end of “Batman” issue 7.
After surviving his first run-in with the Court of Owls, Bruce returns to the Batcave a shaken man. He looks jittery, on edge and utterly exhausted. He also has absolutely no time for Nightwing’s complaining. So, he backhands Nightwing right across the jaw. Sure, the strike had a purpose — to extract a marked tooth from Dick’s mouth — but regardless, it felt like Batman was releasing some pent up rage. This rare outburst from the usually calm Batman helped to cement just how much the run-in with the Court of Owls had shaken him. Turns out he wasn’t Gotham’s only predator.
5. BATMAN VS. THE TALONS
Introduced in the second issue of Snyder and Capullo’s “Batman” run, the Talons were a relentless army of enemies sent against Batman by their masters, The Court of Owls. Expert combatants and unable to feel pain, Batman spent the better part of an issue trying to take one down. Just one. So, you can imagine the look of horror on readers’ faces when Bruce was confronted by a whole army of Talons in “The Night of Owls” story arc.
Wayne manor became overrun with talons as the Court of Owls emerged from the shadows to try and take Gotham back. In their attempt to flee the Talons, Bruce and Alfred shut themselves in a bunker inside the Batcave. Of course, in classic Batman style, it turned out Batman wasn’t running away; he was running to his a robotic combat suit! Capullo’s bad-ass robot armor design was made all the better by Bruce’s immortal words: “Get the hell out of my house!”
4. SURVIVALIST BATMAN
“Zero Year,” the event that chronicled the early days of Batman’s exploits in the New 52 continuity, was full of noteworthy moments. Deliberately trying to be different from Frank Miller’s legendary “Batman: Year One,” Synder and Capullo’s “Zero Year” was big, bold and full of explosive action. It also consisted of three distinctly different parts — “Secret City,” “Dark City” and “Savage City.” Each of these parts explored a different part of the character of Batman.
Possibly the most interesting, and by far the most visually striking, was the survivalist Batman that burst out of the pages of “Savage City.” One half super hero, the other half doomsday-prepper, survivalist Batman was unlike anything we had seen before. Riding a dirt bike and equipped with a cross bow, this particular incarnation of the Bat was perfectly suited to the wild wasteland the Riddler had turned Gotham into. Survivalist Batman showed that even without his technology, Batman can still kick-butt.
3. STAND-OFF ON THE BRIDGE
When it comes to great interactions between Batman and the Joker, Snyder and Capullo’s “Batman” run certainly doesn’t disappoint. In the “Death of the Family” story arc, such a moment occurs between the pair on a bridge overlooking Gotham reservoir. After figuring out that the Joker is re-staging his old crimes — in this case poisoning Gotham’s water supply — Batman confronts the killer clown on the bridge. For maximum dramatic affect, rain pours down as Batman slowly makes his way across the bridge to the Joker. Surprisingly upbeat, the Joker greets him with an enthusiastic “Hello darling.”
Unfortunately for Batman, things do not go well. Thanks to a bit of preparation, the Joker had already poisoned the water and dumped a whole bunch of corpses in the reservoir to boot. Not wanting things to get too dark and gritty, dozens of novelty chattering teeth emerge from the water and restrain Batman, giving the Joker some time to bask in his victory, temporary though it was.
2. FIGHT TO THE DEATH
If the “Death of the Family” story arc was about love, then the “Endgame” story arc was almost certainly about hate. A spurned lover, the Joker wasn’t just angry at Batman after “Death of the Family,” he was absolutely furious. The time of playing with Batman was over: it was time to destroy him completely. What takes place in “Endgame” is an all-out assault on Batman by the Joker. He turns Batman’s friends to foes, infects Gotham city with a terrible virus and the Joker even tries to convince Batman that he is the immortal tormentor of Gotham.
Given the incredibly high stakes of “Endgame,” it is not at all surprising that the story ends with Batman and the Joker killing each other in a bloody fight to the death. Given the extreme and violent nature of the pair’s relationship, it really was the only way “Endgame” could have ended. It’s in the name, after all.
1. THE COURT OF OWLS
Although not a specific moment as such, you really can’t talk about Synder and Capullo’s time on “Batman” without talking about the Court of Owls. Starring in the first two story arcs of the New 52 “Batman,” the Court of Owls were like the Illuminati of Gotham. Made up of Gotham’s elite, it turned out the Court had been ruling Gotham from the shadows for centuries, dispatching a deadly talon to stop anyone who would dare get in their way.
As well as showing off Snyder’s horror writing chops to the superhero crowd, the Court of Owls helped to cement what Snyder and Capullo’s “Batman” would be about. It would be about respecting legacy, while being unafraid to bring new ideas to the table. The Court of Owls was a perfect encapsulation of this; although they were a brand new threat for Batman to face, the court felt like an organic addition to the “Batman” universe. It was almost as if the Court of Owls had been there the whole time. Watching. And waiting.
What was your favorite part from Snyder and Capullo’s seminal Batman run? Let us know in the comments!