Let's just start with the first page. Scott Snyder likes to open most issues with a bit of prose. This is accompanied by an incredibly eerie image of Joker staring into your soul. Hearing Bruce's thoughts and thinking about something most would take for granted, like the way a person's pupils dilates, is what makes Batman a great character and Snyder a great writer. I would love to read more of Snyder's insight into these random things if he were to write a book on them.
This issue shows what we want to see in a Batman/Joker conflict. You can see that Batman is close to the edge here. He doesn't have time for Joker's games when the lives of those close to him are at risk. That also puts Batman at a slight advantage. He knows Joker is dangerous but could still be underestimating him. Batman usually keeps his emotions in check but even these events might be too much.
Then there's the other part of Joker's plan. Last issue he told 'everyone' in the family that Batman was keeping a secret from them. This is where the tension arises. Hearing the details of a past event is almost chilling. This is where Joker excels. He's not a physical character. He may have his poisons and gadgets but being able to get under everyone's skin is his greatest weapon. Hearing about this past encounter just makes me want to see more of Batman's past in the New 52.
The ending absolutely makes me want to see the next stage of Joker's plan.
The back-up continues the series of Joker and one of Batman's other villains. This time we get to see Riddler. Snyder has stated that he has a story planned with him. The big question we've had is what will Snyder's interpretation be like? He (and James Tynion IV) give us a pretty good idea. This is how you want to see him. Jock's interpretation offers an eerie look at where he currently resides.
Batman is in a trap set by Joker. He manages to escape (of course) but it's not absolutely clear how or why he waited to escape until he did. Perhaps he was trying to get Joker to talk more, in a classic 'villain reveals all the plans' way. He also loses his gloves, which we can assume assisted in his escape but you don't really see it happen.
There's also a scene where it appears that Barbara is the same height as Tim but later shown as clearly taller (when in costume). Sure her boots have a bit of a heel on them but not one that would explain the height difference later. Capullo has been knocking it out of the park with each issue and this is the first time I've commented against it.
Joker and Scott Snyder are continuing the war against Batman. It's hard to believe that a story stacking the odds against Batman can be so captivating. That's what Snyder does best, he sets up stories with Batman taking a beating, to remind us that he is a non-powered human. Everyone jokes how Batman should always win but Snyder shows it's not an easy task. We get to see some insight into how Batman's mind works. I can't recall seeing this sort of depth into how he thinks or reflects on a simple matter. With Joker having planned this all out for the past year, we're seeing how many layers there are to his scheme. He is prepared to really put Batman and his family to the test. The tension of what Joker knows and what Batman might be hiding from the others will keep you hanging to the edge of your seat. Capullo's art has a couple hiccups but is still great to see, combined with Jonathan Glapion's inks and FCO Plascencia's colors. The back-up by Snyder, Tynion IV and Jock gives a great look at another Bat-villain. This is clearly a great time to be a Batman fan.