“Joker War” ends here with the monumental Batman #100 that has Batman taking on the Joker for Gotham. Much like the issues leading up to this finale, the issue feels like a statement as to where Batman is going in the continued shift from the previous writer Tom King’s epic run. “Joker War,” much like the previous arc, is more of a statement as to the vision of the character and a transition as to the direction for the new creative team.
Written by James Tynion IV, Batman #100 is broken down into various segments each with an important role to play. The main of course is Batman and his allies taking on the Joker and his. Each character feels like they have their moment and there’s a lot of “hell yeah” for so many of them. Barbara Gordon is front and center as she steps back into her role as Oracle, something that will make numerous fans of the character happy. Her banter with characters like Nightwing feels like fanservice that re-centers the relationship between the two and reestablishing their playful flirting. Nightwing two steps back in with Dick Grayson in his classic black and blue and tasked with taking on Punchline. After months of the character’s journey, that should also make fans happy.
But, the main focus is really Batman taking on the Joker within a chemical plant as the two do their usual dance. What’s interesting out of it is a couple of things. The Joker is obsessed with his role not as just the Clown Prince of Crime but the connection he has with Batman. With Harley Quinn’s inclusions, the entire part of the comic is a look at the abusive relationship the Joker has with the two characters. It also stresses that maybe Batman and Harley aren’t so different and might have a lot in common. It’s a scene of empowerment as Batman stands up against the Joker.
But, the Joker takes it in another direction focused on how Batman hasn’t been good for Gotham. The city and system is broken as is and what the Joker has done and accomplished is evidence of that. Batman is disconnected from the reality of his city as he has been disconnected from so much of his family. And that’s been part of the point of “Joker War”. It recenters Bruce and Batman and gives them a new direction and outlook at it all.
What Harley does and Batman’s reaction is most interesting signaling where the series might be going and a slightly different take on Batman. But, we’ll all see as much is teased about what’s to come including a new nemesis to focus on.
All of the above is beautifully drawn by Jorge Jimenez with color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles. The art is amazing with so much packed in and energy that pops from the page. Each fight is brutal and you can feel the daggers being dug into Batman by the Joker. Joker has rarely looked better and just each segment pops with excitement. Batman has had some fantastic art in years but this is some of the best artwork that has graced the series.
And there’s so much more packed in…
Tynion continues his focus on Clownhunter where we learn his motivation and his name in the appropriately named story “Intervention.” With art by Carlo Pagulayan, the story has Batman confronting the new character-revealing everything we need to know about him and teasing a possible direction. It’s an interesting back and forth and there’s a lot of potential here for the character. Clownhunter is a failure of the system Batman has created. He’s a product of Batman’s inability and unwillingness to truly deal with evil and injustice. It’s everything that the Joker talks about in his battle with Batman personified. With the right direction and creative team, we potentially have an exploration of Batman’s failures in an intriguing character.
Wrapping up the issue is “Dead Ringer” which is an epilogue to the event and story. We get a bit more about Punchline and what happens to her, it sets up more that I’d rather not spoilt. Guillem March handles the art from the story by Tynion and both make a discussion in a diner and recorded video being watched interesting. It too has some potential with exploring the ideas and themes that the Joker goes on about in his battle.
Batman #100 is what I’ve wanted from “Joker War” since the beginning. Yes, it does feel a bit like a transition to what’s next, it’s also a statement as to Batman’s failures. This issue lays out the Joker’s motivations and viewpoints and forces us to question Batman’s effectiveness in multiple ways. We see how Batman’s inaction has impacted a citizen of Gotham and perpetuated the violence. We also see that failure of definitive action being explored again perpetuating the cycle. This is the highlight of an uneven event and finally delivers meat on the bones.
Story: James Tynion IV Art: Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, Guillem March
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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