Review by Paul Bowler
Life changing events await the Dark Knight in Batman #100 as Joker War reaches its thrilling finale courtesy of the dynamic creative team of writer James Tynion IV, artist Jorge Jimenez and colorist Tomeu Morey. The fate of Gotham City hangs in the balance as Batman reaches his epic showdown with the Joker at ACE Chemicals, the outcome will change Gotham forever, and the aftermath will herald a bold new era for Batman and his allies!
James Tynion IV deftly juggles an ensemble cast of Bat-characters and numerous ongoing plot strands in Batman #100, with Batgirl revisiting her role as Oracle in the iconic Clocktower to coordinate the Bat-Families efforts by initiating latent protocols in the Bat-Computer and broadcasting a message of hope to Gothamites while Nightwing leads the fight against Joker’s marauding goons on the streets alongside Red Robin, Batwoman, Red Hood, Spoiler, Orphan, and Signal. I’m really pleased that Dick Grayson is finally back as Nightwing at last, especially now the whole Ric Grayson fiasco is out the way, and his banter with Barbara is a joy to behold here. Commissioner Bullock also steps up to the plate too; putting career on the line to keep GCPD in the fight to save Gotham.
Of course the main event of this landmark issue is Batman’s confrontation with the Joker at ACE Chemicals. The Clown Prince of Crime has donned his own Jokerized next-gen Bat-Suit for the occasion, and he’s even brought a present to the party to taunt the Dark Knight – Alfred’s weaponised corpse! Batman’s eternal conflict with the Joker has been elevated into a frightening theatre of war over the course of James Tynion’s Joker War story-arc – quite literally in some instances — and Tynion skilfully delivers a refreshingly new slant on the familiar tropes that inevitably resurface when Batman and Joker clash so spectacularly as this. The Joker really manages to push Batman’s buttons this time around though, finally getting the chance to really twist the knife just for good measure, before a wild card enters the fray and forces the Dark Knight to make a game changing choice that I feel won’t be as easy to walk away from once the dust has settled.
Joker War has seen some amazing work grace the pages of Batman from artist Jorge Jimenez and colorist Tomeu Morey, and with Batman #100 they’ve certainly gone that extra mile to make this issue extra special. Jimenez’s richly detailed artwork and dynamic page layouts convey the action at a break-neck-pace. Batman’s showdown with the Joker is all boiling vats of chemicals, brutal combat, and frightening horror — both psychological and physical. Alfred’s weaponised corpse is also chillingly macabre and looks like something that’s just shambled out of a Re-Animator movie. Other highlights include Oracle back in the Clocktower, the Bat-Family fighting Joker’s forces on the streets of Gotham, and Nightwing’s face-off with Punchline are all especially standout moments as are the vivid colors and hues by Tomeu Morey which bring a startling clarity to a fire ravaged Gotham gripped by chaos, the oppressive shadows of ACE Chemicals look more sinister than ever, whilst gleaming tones from Bruce’s futuristic dreams for the Bat legacy become a maniacal twinkle in the Joker’s eye, and the fiery finale is awash with the bittersweet hopes and shades of the new dawn waiting on the horizon.
In the aftermath of Joker War writer James Tynion manages to wrap things up with considerable style. There’s no attempt to pull the wool over out eyes. As is the way with most comic book ‘events’ nowadays everything and nothing changes in almost equal measure, corruption in Gotham may been exposed on every level, but the ambiguities of Joker’s fate are unashamedly glossed over to leave things open-ended, there’s a funeral for a dear friend, and we even get a tantalising glimpse of Gotham’s newest vigilante and rival to Batman – the Ghost Maker!
If all that wasn’t enough Batman #100 also features two back-up stories, both written by Tynion. Intervention, with art by Carlo Pagulayn, inks by Danny Miki and colors by Tomeu Morey features the first meeting between Batman and Clownhunter. The reveal of Clownhunter’s true identity wasn’t quite what I was expecting, if anything it had an almost Robin-in-waiting tone to it, and it will be interesting to see where Tynion takes this interesting — if somewhat messed-up — character next. Dead Ringers features art by Guillem March and colors by Tomeu Morey, and shifts the focus towards Punchline in the aftermath of Joker War. I‘m not a huge fan of Punchline, her character has slowly grown on me over the course of Joker War, but unfortunately this tale proved rather underwhelming and was easily the weakest out of the two back-up stories in this issue.
The only criticism I can really level at Batman #100 is that the requisition of the Wayne fortune feels little more than a sidebar to the main action and isn’t really explained in any detail at all. As for Joker War itself, well, as comic book events go, I think it turned out rather well. Some might argue that it was just a series of big set-pieces with scant narrative content and that James Tynion was writing solely for the omnibus / trade collection. To a degree, Joker War certainly reads better as a whole, but the story is far more than the sum of its parts. Joker War has examined the dark schism between Batman and Joker from an entirely fresh perspective, its shaken up the status quo, reunited the Bat-Family, and tackled the emotional fallout from Alfred’s death in a way that finally brings some meaning to his senseless demise during Tom King’s run.
Joker War reaches a powerful, emotional and action-packed conclusion with this outstanding issue — and overall I think Joker War can be considered a rousing success on practically every front. James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey have excelled themselves with Batman #100, they’ve revitalised DC Comics flagship Batman book in every conceivable way, and I can’t wait to see where this teams run on Batman will take the Dark Knight and his allies next.
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Jorge Jimenez / Gillem March / Carlo Pagulayan
Inks: Jorge Jimenez / Gillem March / Danny Miki
Colors: Tomeu Morey / Cover: Jorge Jimenez & 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