April's Batman #19.

In the Superman and Batman books lately, it's been like a couple of family love-fests.

But with this kind of gathering, everyone's going to require major therapy later.

The Superman titles and Bat-books are both in the midst of high-profile crossovers this month. And that means lots of interaction between the New 52's "younger, newer, rebooted" versions of "capes" and "cowls."

All this family-based fighting and bonding is part of DC's bigger plans for 2013, as the new universe begins world-building through crossovers, tie-ins and guest spots.

"Now that we're through our first year of New 52, [2013 will focus on] 'filling in' greater and greater details of that world, and how those characters and their stories start to interrelate to one another," DC VP of Marketing John Cunningham told Newsarama. "That's what I think of when I see what's coming down the pike on the DC side for 2013. We can see, in some of our long-range planning, where stories are going to come together, where larger threads are going to come from. And I think it's that sort of interrelated, very complex, long-term storytelling that comic fans really hunger for."

In Gotham, readers are being reminded of the connections between Batman and his family, as The Joker points out how truly messed up their relationships are during the current "Death of the Family" event.

April's Action Comics


Meanwhile, at the Fortress of Solitude, the "H'el on Earth" crossover has turned into an all-out Super-brawl, because these characters don't even know each other anymore. Or rather... they don't know each other yet.


Don't worry. In a new weekly piece we're calling "Capes and Cowls," Newsarama will be checking in with the Superman and Batman titles, summarizing which characters are battling which, who's hugging whom, and what other fun moments the capes and cowls are experiencing each week.

Batman Family

Batman #16


Last issue, Bruce Wayne found out Joker was making Arkham Asylum into a "castle" for Batman, "a place to come home to." In issue #16, we find out Joker's idea of a man's home being a castle doesn't include a La-Z-Boy and beer. Instead, Batman is confronted by a series of tests that Joker likens to "royal" challenges. There's a "ballroom" filled with people Batman has to save, a group of "knights" whom the hero must defeat, and a slew of Batman rogues playing their parts in the royal metaphor — including the castle's "groundskeeper" (Mr. Freeze), the "royal player" (Clayface), and Batman's "physician" (Scarecrow).

But the two-page spread from artist Greg Capullo had one of the strangest moments of all, as Batman's "throne room" was revealed to have Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, Joker and.... well, to be blunt, four people who looked like those cosplayers you wish hadn't shown up at the comic convention, including weakling Superman and overweight Wonder Woman. (No offense to our wonderful cosplaying readers.)

Of course, Bruce eventually wins the royal battle, foiling Joker's plans by simply moving and thinking faster than his nemesis. But — as writer Scott Snyder pointed out in our interview with him this week — winning doesn't work for Batman when he's got the baggage of "family." Joker proves that he's holding Bruce's allies hostage elsewhere, and Batman is forced to sit on an electric chair, where he's shocked and knocked out.

In the back-up feature, Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face consider shooting Batman while he's out, but The Joker won't let them. He has plans for "dinner" with Bats. The villains try to outwit The Joker and lose. But The Joker includes them in his plan by revealing a covered silver platter, lifting the lid so only the villains can see. They're shocked by what they see, and The Joker ends the issue by saying, "Time for Dinner."

Batman and Robin #16


It's not easy to see a kid tortured, but when that kid is Damian Wayne, it's pretty much par for the course. In the last issue of Batman and Robin, Damian left the Batcave despite his father's orders, trying to save Alfred Pennyworth but instead being captured by The Joker.

As this issue begins, he's been exposed to toxins and is emotionally manipulated into believing he's fighting his own father, in the form of a Jokerized guy in a Bat-suit (and to give Damian some credit, the guy does look like his dad). Damian's desperate cries to his father ("fight back! push through it!") are accompanied by some disturbing dark humor from Joker. (Kudos to Peter Tomasi for writing "I-shouldn't-laugh-because-it's-wrong-but-I-can't-help-it" dialogue for The Joker.) And the way artist Pat Gleason depicts The Joker is pretty gruesome too, with Joker wearing his skinned face upside down at one point.

Damian finally refuses to fight his dad any longer, claiming that he's willing to die at his father's hands — which is, of course, the perfect way to ruin Joker's fun. The Joker kills the faux Batman in disappointment, and Damian screams as he believes his father has just died. "The bad boy wonder was supposed to slay the bat, not let himself be slain," Joker says. As Damian clings to reality, he grabs a screwdriver out of The Joker's belt and stabs him in the foot. Joker's scream turns into a laugh (bet you can spell the way he laughs). Then Joker uses the blood-soaked screwdriver to eerily trace a red mustache on the face of the barely conscious Damian.

After Damian groggily begs his dead "father" for forgiveness, he passes out. Only after Damian can't see anymore, readers are shown the face under the cowl — some martial arts instructor who stopped paying off the mob.

The issue ends with an image that echoes the one we saw in Batman: Joker is holding a silver platter he intends to serve to the entire Bat-family.

Batgirl #16


The issue starts with a flashback, where a wheelchair-bound Barbara is shown visiting a psychologist after she was paralyzed by The Joker in the past. She tells her therapist that she dreams of killing The Joker. And then she reveals a pretty cool superpower: pen-reading. Barbara says she can tell what her doctor is writing on her notepad by watching the movement of her pen. (Villains take note: Only use computers around Batgirl.)

But in the current-day life of Barbara Gordon, she's Batgirl, and The Joker is staging a wedding, forcing Babs to marry him by holding her mother hostage. The wedding party is made up of Joker's thugs, and to prevent her cheating on him, he whips out a chainsaw, intending to take her limbs.

That finally gets Batgirl fighting back, and she takes out Joker's sidekicks. But in a surprising twist, her dear brother James Jr. shows up with two grenades and claims he's there to help and mom is safe.

Batgirl grabs the chance to start beating Joker silly.

Er... sillier.

But with Batgirl so focused on clown-whooping, James Jr. chloroforms her. He offers The Joker a deal: Trade Batgirl for mom. And if Joker won't take the deal, James Jr. says he'll kill Batgirl and ruin all the fun. Joker's impressed, and after some witty dialogue and an explosion, Joker presents the now expected ending... a silver platter for Batgirl.

Superboy Family

Superboy #16


So far in the "H'el on Earth" crossover, Superboy and Superman have teamed up with the Justice League to take back the Fortress of Solitude. It's controlled by H'el, an alleged Kryptonian who displays very, very heightened powers and abilities. And he's conned Supergirl into joining him, telling her that he wants to bring back Krypton.

What he's actually trying to do is sacrifice Earth and its sun to create enough energy to go back in time and save Krypton.

In Superboy #16, we join the battle mid-destruction, with the heroes fighting Kryptonian worker-drones who are protecting the Fortress. We see in flashback that the Justice League came up with their strategy while visiting the underground lab of Dr. Veritas, Superman's genius friend we met in an earlier issue. But Batman's strategy requires Superboy to use his powers to disrupt the force-field H'el put around the Fortress, he finds out the villain designed the barrier in a way that would give Superboy psychic backlash.

Supergirl is still being duped inside the Fortress, where she's discovering all of Superman's high-tech toys and remarking that he should use the alien technology to accomplish things on earth. H'el uses psychic powers to convince Supergirl they're doing the right thing saving Krypton.

But Superboy has succeeded in disrupting the shield, and various members of the Justice League get to show off in action-comic-book fashion, working their way into the Fortress through various obstacles. H'el has seemingly left the Fortress, and he activated a mysterious alien prison/teleporter Superman found. A beam fired from the thing almost hits Superboy, but Superman pushes him out of the way and gets hit. Superman is torn to pieces.

After Batman points out that the beam is some type of teleporter, Superboy decides to follow Superman into the beam. (Apparently, the Justice League says "screw that!" and doesn't follow.)

Meanwhile, at a temporary research facility in the Himalayas, two researchers in high-tech snowsuits are investigating "some kind of event" a few months ago — the release of seemingly alien energies. A monstrous alien pops out and says "After Months of Silence... The Oracle heeds my summons -- and a world dies!"

Costume(s) of the Week


We're calling a tie between The Joker's apparel in all the Batman books — his "Joe's Garage" overalls and creepy skin mask — and Batman's fur-lined cape, which he apparently reserves for sub-zero temperatures like the setting in this week's Superboy. (In an effort to make up with the aforementioned offended cosplayers, we'd love to see you cosplay both these costumes — stat!)

Funny of the Week

Lots of clever dialogue from Joker in the Bat-books this week that had us laughing, but you really can't go wrong with an Aquaman joke. In Batman and Robin, an emotional-but-silent underwater battle between Damian and his faux father was being watched by Joker through a window. The Joker eerily cocks his head and says to no one, "Hope Aquaman doesn't hear about this. He might get mad at me and talk to the Swedish fish I ate and get them swimming round and round."

Hmm... with that one, maybe you had to be there.

We'll have to wait until February's Batman #17 to find out what's under the silver platter at Joker's dinner, but we'll be back next week with Capes and Cowls to chronicle the events in other Bat-books, as well as the next chapter in "H'el on Earth."

More from Newsarama:

Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

Twitter activity