It was always going to come to this. The Clown Prince of Crime and the Dark Knight Detective go head-to-head for the last time. The Joker has never wanted to win before, he’s never wanted his battle with Batman to end, but now his motivation has shifted. He has decided that one way or another, this will be the final chapter to their story. “Joker War” begins here!
All of the long build up finally starts to pay off as “Joker War” begins with this month’s issue. Joker has stolen the Wayne fortune and company right out from underneath Bruce’s feet and left Bruce isolated. Without Alfred’s guiding hand, this encounter is a Joker story both familiar yet very different. The story beats all seem to land here as Tynion’s vision finally feels far more focused than with previous issues.
In a particularly relevatory moment, Joker speaks with the owner of the old Monarch Theater, who tells Joker “Folks don’t want to see something they’ve seen a hundred times before.” The Clown Prince of Crime retorts, “They always say that, but they never mean it. They want all the pieces in the right places. All the characters saying the parts they want them to say. Which isn’t to say they don’t want something new. They want to see it peeled back. To find out there was a layer underneath all this time they didn’t know about.”
Tynion lays bare his philosophical approach to this current book in these few, central lines. To craft an original Batman story after 80 years of stories, there has to be an element of making the old somehow new again. We’ve seen Bruce lose his fortune before. We’ve seen an extra powerful Joker before. We’ve seen new sidekicks and isolation and deaths in the family. The magic trick Tynion now has to pull off is take all of these familiar notes and flay them to reveal an undercurrent not previously explored. And seeing that intent in conjunction with reading this issue, I have faith that there is actually something coming that will shock and amazing even longtime readers. I don’t know what that is yet but I have faith.
Not to be dismissed, the art by Jorge Jimenez (with Morey continuing on colors) is the best of this run thus far. Jimenez has a unique ability with his art to twist the human form ever so slightly into a subtle grotesque form that suits the overall tone of the story without creating a distraction. Each character is distinct, each figure clearly distinguished from the others set against richly detailed backgrounds and colored in deep shadows punctuated by the sickly glow of flourescent lights. Jimenez is the artist we’ve needed on this book and knowing he has been secured for at least the next issue as well is a comforting thought. The future may not look bright for the Caped Crusader but it promises to be an interesting ride as we build towards #100 and the “Joker War” finale.
Batman #95(Tynion, Jimenez, Morey, Cowles) begins the "Joker War" and with new art and a new twist on classic tropes, the series gets a much needed shot in the arm just in time!
Batman #95: Two Clowns Walk into a Mansion
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10