Things have changed, as Batman realizes he can’t fight this war alone. He’s going to need help. Before he faces down The Joker, he must call up his trusty partner Dick Grayson! But can Dick reclaim his lost memories in time to join the battle?
The penultimate issue of the sprawling epic we’ve come to know as the Joker War hits on all the right notes for a powerful story when it had every opportunity to lay low until the climactic issue #100. It’s a display of talent that is refreshing for the Batman title, respecting the deep lore of such foundational characters while still doing something that we haven’t seen over and over again.
Batman #99 focuses once more on the Joker’s positioning in Gotham as he manipulates the right puzzle pieces to fit his goal while delivering a dark diatribe against Batman’s mythical undertaking in Gotham. After the heartfelt moment that occurred in the clash between Harley Quinn and Punchline last issue, we see Punchline taking a bit more of a backseat as the cast of characters all start to reach a point of no return in the Joker War. While I would have loved to see more from Punchline, Harley certainly continues to steal the spotlight.
Tynion IV has crafted an expansive story in this arc of Batman and this book shows that the ending isn’t likely to fall apart for fans who have been following issue after issue. The pacing feels right and the drama is rightfully built on the strong characterizations. Batman invoking his family at a time when there feels to be no other option feels familiar and that sets the stakes for what is hopefully a grand conclusion. For now though, we get to sink our teeth into emotionally charged dynamics that put Batman solely in the focus of a story that on it’s surface feels larger than ever before. By the issue’s end, we see the reflection of who Batman is come to light and it’s absolutely a sight to behold.
None of this would work quite as well without the impressive artwork from Jimenez and Morey punctuated by Cowles consistent letters. There are plenty of great panels that stand out such as when Joker randomly kills a henchmen that are unexpected treats, but the two consecutive splash pages towards the end of the issue are just incredible in their vivid execution. It’s the type of artwork that shows this team is really not holding anything back and it’s more than enough to keep me coming back for more.
Batman #99 is about as good of a set up for the exciting issue #100 as I could ask for, even with some noticeable exceptions such as the lack of prominence from the Clownhunter and Punchline taking a backseat. Harley shines in this issue and I’m always thrilled to see that. For fans who have been keeping up with this arc and the journey so far, this is a must read book to set the stage for what’s to come. It’s fast paced without losing track of the unraveling mystery and packs a punch at just the right moments. Don’t miss this book.
Taking full advantage of stunning artwork, Batman #99 builds on powerful characterizations with emotionally charged developments in the Joker War to set the stage for an exciting finale next issue.
Batman #99: The Festering Dark Spirit of Gotham
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 9.5/10
Art - 9.5/10
Color - 9.5/10
Cover Art - 9/10
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