Batman #134 continues a frustrating arc

Batman #134

It’s all-out war as only Batman stands between Red Mask and a Gotham City full of bodies! How much is the Dark Knight willing to sacrifice to save this city? Batman #134 has Batman confronting the Red Mask and revealing who it is underneath! And… it’s rather underwhelming.

Written Chip Zdarksy, the latest story, “The Bat-Man of Gotham” has been a step back in quality and definitely not up to the quality we’ve seen from Zdarsky in the past. Bruce is in another world where Gotham is ruled by the Red Mask who uses individuals for experiments and rules through terror. There’s so much potential hinted and teased but at every moment, it feels like the comic has played things safe, not pushing the story far enough or delivering any surprises.

Red Mask is exactly who you think it is. The reason for everything is rather thin. Where things go, we’ve seen it before. It’s an odd story that feels… off. Make the Red Mask someone unexpected! Make the reason something intriguing that can come back in the future! Make the villains Batman faces more than just versions we know with Venom. None of it really challenges the readers and it all feels like things we’ve seen before.

The visuals can be interesting at times. Mike Hawthorne has the look of the world down which feels like Gotham but something slightly different. It isn’t quite steampunk/dieselpunk but it feels like there’s some roots there in design. With ink by Adriano Di Benedetto, color by Tomeu Morey, and lettering by Clayton Cowles, it all visually is interesting in its own ways.

The issue also continues Robins adventure in part four of “The Toy Box.” He’s on a mission to try to find Bruce in the multiverse. Written by Zdarsky, it features art by Miguel Mendonca, color by Roman Stevens, and lettering by Cowles. The story has been intriguing in some ways but like the main story feels like we’ve seen it before. “Bruce lost on the timestream/multiverse and we’re going to find him” feels like a previous plot (pretty sure it was). Here Tim is even sidetracked in his trek for no explainable reason other than to stretch out the story. It’s… a distraction in some ways. I still think if this was the main story and Bruce’s was the backup it’d all be much more interesting.

As a whole, Batman #134 isn’t bad. The story arc isn’t bad. It just doesn’t feel fresh and interesting and feels like something we’ve seen a few times before. There’s little that’s surprising at all from a villain reveal that is exactly who you think it is to obstacles that surmount to character we know + venom. There was a lot of potential here to do something different, instead, it’s played out as expected so far.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Mike Hawthorne, Migeul Mendonca
Ink: Adriano Di Benedetto Color: Tomeu Morey, Roman Stevens Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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