Batman #39: DC Stands For ‘Dismemberment Comics’?March 7, 2015
Last week saw the publication of Batman #39, the penultimate issue in the Endgame arc which has been gloriously mad up until now. Gotham’s citizens are infected with a new, seemingly indestructible pathogen which is turning them all into grinning maniacs, attacking the things that they love the most.
The only cure seems to be the Joker’s own blood. Oh and Joker now may actually be eternal. Like I said, gloriously mad.
I’ve loved Endgame up to now, and I should be more excited to see where Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and team take us in the finale. But my enthusiasm has been dampened somewhat by Batman becoming the latest comic to turn to what is rapidly becoming DC’s calling card – a major character losing a limb.
During Batman #39, the Joker manages to break into the Batcave, as he is now aware of Batman’s secret identity. Alfred is there to confront him, and their exchange concludes with the gory sight of Joker cutting off Alfred’s hand.
The problem here isn’t so much the actual act of mutilation. Joker is about as foul a villain as you can get, and sudden outbursts of shocking violence absolutely fit the mould for him. What’s more, Snyder is a terrific horror writer and more than capable of handling such a gruesome act perfectly.
No, the issue here is that cutting someone’s limb off is no longer actually shocking, at least not if you’ve read any DC output besides Batman over the last few years.
We’ve had Hawkman lose an arm in both Futures End and Justice League United (give the guy a break), Guy Gardner’s arm ripped off by Hal Jordan in Injustice, Sinestro cutting off Power Ring’s arm in Forever Evil. It’s become such a regular feature that there is now even a DC Characters Losing Arms tumblr.
I don’t mind sudden, shocking violence in my comics, especially from characters like the Joker or various other members of Batman’s rogues gallery. But in order for that violence to be shocking, you can’t have those exact same acts taking place every other month in other comics from the same publisher.
It’s especially surprising when DC appears to be moving away from so much doom and gloom in its output. It’s clearly taken notice of the success of more obviously ‘fun’ titles like the revamped Batgirl, Gotham Academy and Grayson, to the point that the publisher’s line-up for after its major Convergence event looks radically different to what we’ve had over the last few years. I can’t imagine too many limbs being ripped off in Prez, Bat-Mite or Bizarro, for example.
So hopefully this is the last hurrah for limb loss, not just in Batman but across the line, at least for the foreseeable future. DC shouldn’t stand for Dismemberment Comics.