The finale of "Endgame" is nearly here. Joker has complete control of Gotham City, as an infected populace tears the city apart from the inside. Batman is out of options. He needs Joker's blood to manufacture a cure for the disease, but how to get it?

That's the problem Batman struggles with in this issue. His allies are fewer and fewer with each passing hour. Batman needs to act soon, but how?

As we saw at the conclusion of issue #38, Batman seeks the Court of Owls for help out of desperation. His hope is that the centuries-old organization secretly manipulating Gotham from behind-the-scenes might know more about Joker's origins and the special element housed within his blood.

That's where the issue begins, but the Court of Owls have surprisingly little to do with the over arching plot, at least at this point. Batman's brief fight and talk with one of the original Talons is purposely cut off before its conclusion, so it will be interesting to see what Batman might have gleamed from the conversation and how it might help him bring Joker down. As entertaining at it is to see Batman deal with the mysterious villains from the beginning of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's run on the series, it would have been nice for them to have a little more to do here after last issue's build-up.

But while Batman's plans have hit a standstill, Joker's are moving forward marvelously. He gets several moments in the spotlight this issue, including a brutal attack that will have a lasting effect on one of Batman's longtime allies.

Speaking of allies, many of Batman's fellow crime fighters finally make an appearance to help save the city, including a group of unlikely saviors. It should make for one bombastic conclusion as Batman and his team confront a Joker that has ripped his grand finale straight from Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film.

Snyder and Capullo put all the pieces in place for a spectacular finish in next month's issue, but on its own issue #39 still delivers the same quality you've come to expect. Snyder continues to dive deep into Batman's psyche and delivers some powerful internal monologues, all backed up by Capullo's stellar artwork. Capullo simply has a way of fully realzing Gotham and all its characters in a way we've rarely seen. Every panel with the Joker is a nightmare brought to life, and he delivers several other lasting visuals in this issue as well, among them the ominous sight of an upside-down Bat signal lighting up the night sky above a burning Gotham.

If I have one complaint for this issue, it's that the book jumps back and forth in time for more than a few instances. It makes keeping track of what is going on "now" and what happened several hours earlier a little confusing, but it isn't enough to bring down the issue overall.

The Joker side-story that has accompanied each issue of the Endgame arc wraps up this issue in a shocking way that only continues to add to the aura of mystery that surrounds the Clown Prince. Together, the two tales make for a satisfying issue that will have fans anxiously awaiting the final act. Knowing Snyder and Capullo, you won't want to miss it.

Story

★★★★☆

Art

★★★★☆

Overall

★★★★☆

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Batman #38 

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