“The Joker War” comes to a city-shattering conclusion as Batman battles The Joker in a brutal, no-holds-barred duel! This is a fight 80 years in the making, and its outcome won’t just change Batman’s life-it will change Gotham City for years to come! Plus, catch the first glimpse of the new villain known as Ghost-Maker! And after the senses-shattering conclusion of “The Joker War” come a pair of short stories that will chart what’s to come in Gotham City and Batman. Don’t miss the first showdown between Batman and Clownhunter!
James Tynion’s run on Batman has been an interesting ride. There were moments along the way to the end of “The Joker War” that felt too drawn out, to be certain, and “Their Dark Designs”– after starting exceptionally strong– felt borderline offensive in its bait and switch villain. Until now. Readers will theorize what the actual structure of Tynion’s grand design looks like but it wasn’t until this issue where I truly believed that there is a greater story at work here. Much of that storytelling has been slowed down for having to deal with the hangover left on the book from the previous extended run but now, issue #100 seems to mark the beginning of something that can stand on its own.
Many will be saddened/maddened that the cycle continues as Batman (and Harley) once again did not kill The Joker. That was never going to happen. Of course he will escape over and over again because that cycle is integral to the character design of Batman. This story was never about the Batman and The Joker. It was never really about the sidekicks and extended families and new characters. This story was about the most important character in the mythos of Batman. This story was about Gotham City. Bruce’s attempts to tame the city and build it into a paragon of light and unity belie his arrogance. The Joker wages war to show that, underneath, Gotham is a city that doesn’t want to change.
There is an interesting parallel to the real world brought forth in the Clownhunter back-up story (also, Clownhunter’s origin is revealed and it is basically as expected but still nice to see). Clownhunter talks about how, when the war is over, the clowns take off and hide their masks and go about business like usual until the next opportunity arises to enact violence on the city. This prospect certainly feels similar to the rash of openly racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic violence we’ve seen on the rise in the United States in the last four years. It is as if to say that these clowns were always among us but kept their masks in hiding. It was a powerful moment in the book for me but it was so subtle that I could see it getting glossed over.
The artwork throughout was magnificent. Tomeu Morey’s colors made a burning Gotham look beautiful as well as saddening/terrifying. Clayton Cowles’ brings his ever growing catalogue of fonts to the forefront and I remain impressed by how I can hear Clownhunter in my head thanks to that subtle lettering trick. Each story artist/artist team brought their A-games to this book and each story was perfectly appropriate to the artist’s style. The grotesque/beauty juxtoposition in March’s story (which often doesn’t work for me as a matter of personal taste) was excellent in having the dressed down Punchline positioned against The Joker and his victim. Pagulayan and Miki will hopefully be the team on whatever upcoming Clownhunter project arises. And I’ve raved through this arc about the ascendence of Jorge Jimenez to near elite status. This book is perfectly suited to Jorge’s action-oriented style. The moment (above) where Babs reclaims the Oracle name sent a chill up my spine as we begin to pan across the city that so desperately needed exactly that character in that moment.
Maybe this book won’t be for everybody. I know some of my colleagues are far colder on the book that I am and they all make valid points. But for me? As a lifelong Batman fan… this was the story arc I needed at a time when I was starting to lose faith. A round of applause all around.
Batman #100 (#DCComics @JamestheFourth @JorgeJimenezArt @GuillemMarch @carlopagulayan @DannyMiki_ @Tomeu_morey @ClaytonCowles) brings "The Joker War" to a close and ushers in a whole new era for Batman!
SPOILERS: Batman #100: With a BANG! and a Whimper
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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