For the past several months, the madness and the mystery of the Joker has kept Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's current "Endgame" arc of DC Comics' "Batman" at the top of the sales charts. But even as the Clown Prince of Crime has struck Bruce Wayne's city with a zombie-like plague of "Joker-ized" Gothamites, the villain hasn't quite stepped fully into the spotlight as he's done in the past. That changes today.
In "Arkham Manor: Endgame," the villains of the Batman universe take center stage under the stewardship of writer Frank Tieri and an art team led by Felix Ruiz. As the Joker-izing gas makes its way to the former Wayne Manor that's currently serving as Gotham's asylum, all Hell breaks loose with the grinning (possible) immortal himself leading the charge.
"We've got some of the usual suspects as far as Batman's Rogues go -- Bane, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Freeze, Clayface, Riddler, etc -- but this is definitely a Joker story," Tieri told CBR. "About how he's viewed, about how he affects everyone and everything around him. About how he's the one villain that not only spooks normal people, but other villains, as well.
"To me, he's the greatest villain in the history of comics. And I hope this story shows you why."
Readers caught up on the current chapters of "Endgame" proper know that the Dark Knight now counts a number of his villains as allies in the fight against Joker. Tieri explained that his story will break down how each of the inmates of Arkham Manor are affected by the gas before they appear in the ongoing "Batman" series. "What we basically have here in our story is two sets of inmates... those that are Joker-ized and those that are not. And just so you know, the Joker-ized far outweigh the non-affecteds. So what happens then is the hoards of Arkham Joker zombie inmates and staff, led by the Joker, end up trying to kill the hell out of everybody else. Meaning the inmates and staff that aren't affected essentially spend the entire time just trying to get the hell out of there. It's all they can do to stay alive -- and some of them don't."
The window into the villain's attack is a new character -- someone who may be involved in the criminal madness himself. "Our POV character is a member of the Arkham Manor staff, a guy by the name of Mike Stone," the writer said. "When we open, Mike is recounting what occurred in Arkham Manor during the night in question and we're seeing it all in flashbacks. The kicker here is WHO he's recounting the events to... and that's a none-too-happy Harvey Bullock. Stone has a record, you see, and Bullock suspects he might've had something to do with what happened that night."
A longtime champion of series starring villains, Tieri is returning to Gotham's ugly side with relish. "With me being a Villain's guy, whenever I get the call from [editor] Mark Doyle to do a project like this, I can't sign up fast enough. Because really, let's be honest here: Batman hands down has the best rogues gallery in comics. (The only one who's even close is Spider-man's)," he said. "Now why is that? I think that Batman, probably more than any other superhero in comics, is defined by his villains. Many are dark reflections of him, many of them play off of different aspects of him. Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, Bane, Catwoman, Penguin, Scarecrow... the list goes on and on. All great villains. All bringing something unique and different to the table when they face the hero. And that's not something every rogues gallery has. It's special."
But just because this is a one-shot tie-in issue, the writer stressed that "Arkham Manor: Endgame" won't just be a crazy story set outside any major pieces of Batman's future. With the series it spins out of having just ended its short run, this one-shot is the place to learn the fate of the former Wayne Manor and what will become of it after the inmates break loose. "SPOILER ALERT: We pretty much fuck it all up," laughed Tieri.
"Not to give too much away but there's a bit of a surprise ending here that pretty much changes the game for Arkham Manor. So what happens here isn't just a one and done and everybody goes home like nothing happened. The events here will have ramifications, I can promise you that."
"Arkham Manor: Endgame" is available now from DC Comics.