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Batman #97

Review by Paul Bowler

Part three of Joker War sees unfolds in Batman #97 with almost maniacal glee. With Joker’s army terrorising Gotham, the Dark Knight reels from the nightmarish visions induced by Punchline’s deadly new Joker Toxin, and the mysterious new vigilante Clownhunter begins to make his presence felt. As Joker plots his next move Batman must regain his grip on reality to strike back and reclaim his city, or Gotham will soon fall before the horror the Clown Prince of Crime has unleashed…

When it comes to ramping up the tension, horror, and action writer James Tynion IV excels on every level. Batman #97 is literally bursting at the seams with fresh developments in the Joker War saga. The Joker’s new squeeze, Punchline, is busy at the docks overseeing a new consignment of ingredients for her souped up Joker toxin destined for Axis Chemicals, when she learns that there’s a new kid on the block, Clownhunter, who seems to be making things pretty toasty for the Joker\s Clown-faced goons in the Narrows and Punchline’s none too happy about it either!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Batman is still in the grip of the new Joker Toxin and its horrific hallucinogenic effects as he confronts Joker’s nanobot zombies at the Monarch Theatre. The action and suspense is brilliantly handled by Tynion in these scenes as Batman struggles against a threat that is an unnerving blend of reality and ghoulish illusion. The Dark Knight even believes he’s conversing with an imaginary phantom of Alfred over his cowls coms link at one point — the voice of his dearly departed friend uncannily providing the tenuous anchor he needs to focus and survive the chaos closing in around him.

Joege Jimenez is really hitting his stride now with his artwork for DC Comics flagship Batman title, and he’s clearly having a blast with the all-out action in this issue. The flashback to Clownhunter’s vigilante antics in the Narrows are a real standout moment that offers further insight into this new character. Jimenez’s rendition of the battle in the Monarch Theatre is a veritable tour-de-force of beautifully orchestrated combat, horror, dynamic panel layouts, and explosive action — while Joker and Punchline’s chilling tête-à-tête as they survey the carnage across Gotham provides our first proper glimpse into what makes their relationship tick. Colorist   Tomeu Morey also pulls out all the stops with an assured use of tone and shade to make this another stunning looking issue of Batman especially the scenes set in the Monarch Theatre and Harley Quinn’s secret hideaway.

The frantic pace of Batman #97 builds to a final scene that could well provide what we’ve all been waiting for since Joker War started, however, will this glimmer of salvation prove the guiding light Batman desperately needs in his darkest hour or will it send him over the edge completely? 

Needless to say, this is an unmissable issue of Batman. If you’ve been enjoying Joker War so far, Batman #97 will totally blow your mind. You know, every once in a while a comic book creative team just seems to click and capture lightening in a bottle. Tynion, Jimenez and Morey are doing just that right now and proving to be winning team for this book! 

Publisher: DC Comics / Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist Joege Jimenez / Colors: Tomeu Morey

Letters: Clayton Cowles / Cover: Guillem March & Tomeu 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