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Batman #96

Review by Paul Bowler.

Joker War unleashes havoc across Gotham in Batman #96 while the Clown Prince of Crime sets the stage for the final act of Batman’s downfall! Still reeling from the effects of a new, even deadlier version of Joker toxin, Batman is on the run, haunted by darkness from his past and present. Only one person can save the Dark Knight from madness as the Joker’s scheme threatens to overwhelm him – Harley Quinn! There’s also a new player in town, but who is the mysterious Clownhunter?

Writer James Tynion IV continues to knock it out of the park with his work on Batman. The grim horror tone gets ramped up even further in Joker War Part 2 as much of the issue plays out like a nightmarish dreamscape for the Dark Knight detective. Tynion masterfully blurs the lines between fantasy and reality in Batman #96 as the Joker’s scheme viciously permeates every aspect of Batman’s world – especially the tragic fallout from Alfred’s recent death which resonates even more powerfully now as a result. Of course much of what Batman finds himself experiencing is, initially at least, a warped illusion caused by the souped up version of the Joker toxin Punchline gassed him with last issue. 

Things are looking bleak for Gotham, with Punchline running the show at Wayne Enterprises and the Underbroker controlling City Hall, while the Joker’s new army of gangland goons rampage through the city with some wonderful toys courtesy of the Joker’s recent acquisition of the Wayne fortune. As for the Joker, well, he’s busy buying up air time left right and centre for his own macabre reasons. Tynion refines the narrative with some exceptionally bold strokes in this issue that simultaneously encompass the introduction of an intriguing new character, Clownhunter, while Harley Quinn ends up becoming Batman’s best hope of salvation — even though her help effectively sends him crashing so far over the edge he actually begins to perceive what’s happening to him!

Joege Jimenez’s artwork on this title is really something to behold. Every page of Batman #96 is rich with detail, the concise panel layouts stylishly convey the finer nuances of the story, and the colors by Tomeu Morey are to die for. Highlights include the idyllic future fantasy that has Batman once more sporting a Bat-Suit reminiscent of the sleek ice-tech styling of George Clooney’s final costume from Batman and Robin, the moments of brutally which snap us back to reality are so vividly crafted they are genuinely disturbing, Gotham continues to look more gothic with each passing scene, and the cliffhanger is a masterclass of horror swathed in flickering shadows.

But what exactly is the Joker working towards this time? Well, that all starts to become much clearer now as this second part of Joker War starts to unfold, and he’s clearly pushing all the right buttons to get under Batman’s skin. No bones about it, this time the Joker really is playing for keeps! Batman #96 is another must-read issue, with its terrific writing from James Tynion IV and superb art by George Jimenez, there can be no doubt that Joker War is shaping up to be the DC Comics event of the year!

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: James Tynion IV / Artist Joege Jimenez / Colors: Tomeu Morey

Letters: Clayton Cowles / Cover: Jimenez & Morey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook