In a genuinely depressing kind of jack-in-the-box sense, in Batman #100 the Joker War goes a long way to press DC Comics' favorite button, the one on the far right side of the Atari 2600 that made everything easy again.
There are some bright spots worth noting. Proving, for once and for all, that Oracle is greater than Batgirl in every possible metric, Barbara Gordon takes off the mask. She picks up the keyboard and mic, almost singlehandedly leading Signal, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, Red Hood, the often maligned Robin and a squad of fed-up cops to retake the streets of Gotham from a literal army of clowns. No, not like the ones lying in televised debates while fighting infection, literally clowns in makeup as the "gospel" of the Joker spreads Bruce Wayne's money alongside mayhem.
Here's the thing, kids: the fight between Batman and the Joker, wearing a version of Bat-armor, is literally nothing special. There is nothing here more visceral than any fight with Bane or Killer Croc or Clayface or Solomon Grundy. There is no more emotional reality here than the Bat smashing himself against Ra's Al Ghul or the Court of Owls. Every hit the Joker scores makes a mockery of the Bat's reputation for unarmed combat (try and see Steve Rogers getting caught off guard by any of this). Every moment it drags on, knowing that it will lead to Wayne being rich, Joker coming back again, and everything is set to repeat this sick love affair between the Joker and Batman … it's exhausting.
Let's say you're a child. You've never read Batman, and this is all new to you. The James Tynion the Fourth script makes no legitimate argument for the continued life of the Clown Prince of Crime (sit down if you're gonna quote that Alfred line because literally, nobody cares). While wholly serviceable, the visual storytelling from Jimenez, Morey, and Cowles shines no new light on the never-ending battle. Everything a reader could love about this book, they bring it themselves, the peer pressure of Fox and Conway and O'Neill and Dini and years past insisting to you that this matters when every stitch of Batman's tragically repetitive life proves that it does not.
Batman solved no mysteries. He won no victory. His soldiers did his work, and perhaps he can claim that through his training and influence, they were ready when the call went out. He is no "hero" here, and this comic book is less an adventure and more of an indictment. RATING: NO. JUST … NO.
By James Tynion the Fourth, Guillem March, Tony S. Daniel, Jorge Jimenez, Francesco Mattina
"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!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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