THE JOKER IS LOOSE, AND SO IS HELL.
The Joker has broken out of Arkham and Batman (Dick Grayson) is hot on his trail. However, tragedy has already struck Commsissoner Gordon, who finds his ex-wife with a face full of Joker Toxin in the bathtub of her hotel room. As Barbara and Red Robin try to piece together the crime scene, Batman goes after the Joker in the city's sewers. There the Joker asks for the real Batman to come back, knowing that it's one of the former Robins behind the cowl. After a short battle, the Joker reveals some horrifying news about the former Mrs. Gordon's attack, and a whole new world of hurt is about to descend on the Bat-Family.
Written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Jock, this issue of Detective Comics was one of the best that I've ever read. I feel like I say that with each and everyone that I read, but Snyder's run has been so damn good that I can't help but say it. The tone of this story was more like a horror movie than a superhero comic book, and that's why it's so effective in telling this story line. The Joker is just as terrifying as he ever is, but the fact that he's able to just "know" and "always does" as Gordon puts it is even more creepy. We don't ever take the time as readers to step back and think, "you know what, the Joker WOULD know where I was, no matter where I went." It's just one of the mysterious things about him. And the fact that he knew right off the bat that it wasn't Bruce under the cowl is a bit of an indication that he knows more than he lets on.
The artwork by Jock was, as always, stunning. The writing and panel pacing combined with the very dark colors used for the book were engrossing and beautiful while also a bit scary. Even the cover, with the smiling Joker dissolving into bats, gives the sense of horror more than spectacle. This run that Snyder and Jock have been doing is just the sort of thing I look for in a Batman title.