Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Batman #97 Review

Leto’s Joker

Written By: James Tynion IVArt By: Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu MoreyLetters By: Clayton CowlesCover Price: $3.99Release Date: August 18, 2020
*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Our most previous issue of Batman brought something that the title had been missing for several issues and that was fun. I had fun reading that issue and even though it was still haunted by the same mistakes that this book commits over and over, I ultimately gave it a pretty good rating because the fun outweighed the negatives for me. That being said, I really need something to finally happen in this book that has lasting impact. There have been small reveals here and there but most of them don’t really explain anything about what is happening in the story right now or provide a legitimate plot point that will be relevant for the entirety of the story. They’ve been providing nothing but context. Now, I like context. I like seeing how things are playing out because of events that are happening but when that’s all your book is, it gets kind of boring. So, while I may have had fun in the last issue, I’m ready for some good old fashioned story progression in this issue so let’s jump in and see where we find ourselves in this book.

Our issue begins in the Tricorner Yards of Gotham where several large shipments are coming in to port. Punchline is there to receive them and she speaks with the Underbroker to discover that thanks to all the money they’ve stolen from Wayne Industries, they were able to make this happen. The goons start unloading the shipments and taking the product to Ace Chemicals where they will be used to make more Joker Toxin. During this scene a random goon asks Punchline about going to a certain neighborhood as clowns have been getting killed in that area. There’s a new vigilante going around calling himself Clownhunter. Punchline gives him permission to use a different route but she then reminds him that he is working for the man who is going to kill Batman, and he has to decide whether he’s more afraid of him or this Clownhunter.

We cut to Batman who is in the theater surrounded by the reanimated victims of the Joker and they are attacking him all at once. However, the Joker Toxin that is within his body is causing him to hallucinate visually. The Joker continues to taunt him while a hallucination of Alfred gives him advice. Joker reveals his plan to gas the entirety of Gotham after they’ve all watched The Mask of Zorro just like little Bruce Wayne did. Batman struggles against the horde but finds himself backed into a corner. He decides he cannot trust his eyes so he blindfolds himself and then fights back, this time with more precision and vigor. Finally, he sets off a small EMP to knock out the nanobots in the victims. He has won but he is injured and hallucinating still. He collapses in front of someone walking down the street who turns out to be none other than Harley Quinn.
We cut to Punchline who meets up with The Joker who is enjoying a taste of the rich life. He comes off a little too Leto for my taste in this scene but he revels in the new information that Punchline gives him about the new vigilante, Clownhunter. He sees Gotham changing before his very eyes and he likes what he sees. However, he can’t allow the new crime fighter to live so he tells Punchline to send in some of their higher ups to take him out. We then cut to Batman who finds himself in a strange forest and when he wakes up he finds Harley there with him. She reveals that this is a place that Ivy set up for the two of them to hide out in when things got too bad. She then gives Batman a drink that will cure him of the Joker Toxin and Batman drinks it. Bruce immediately starts to hallucinate even more and Harley reveals that he will be tripping balls for a while but when he comes to, his body will be completely devoid of the toxin. Bruce falls deep into the trip and inside he finds none other than Alfred Pennyworth, who wants to have a chat with him. This is where the issue leaves us.

I’m tired of saying that this story needs to have some progression. We are getting nowhere and we’ve been here for four issues already. It’s so frustrating. However, let’s talk about the good things first. First, we have discovered what the Joker is planning to do. It’s a relatively simple plan, but at least we have one at this point. The other good part is the Clownhunter character. I’m incredibly intrigued by him and frankly, I’d like to follow his story for a while instead. Great stuff. However, now for the really bad. By the end of this issue we are in the EXACT SAME PLACE we were just TWO ISSUES AGO! Literally Gotham is going to hell and Batman is being taken care of by Harley. The only difference between where we are at the end of this issue in comparison to the last time we were in this exact situation is that Bruce actually knows what the Joker is planning on doing. That’s the only difference. Why do the books I love keep doing this to me?

Bits and Pieces

This issue is not without some bright spots as we get a little more information about what is going on and we get a new vigilante character who is incredibly interesting and makes me want to follow them even more. However, the rest of this issue is pretty lukewarm and ultimately we end up in a situation almost identical to the one we previously were in. Almost nothing has changed in two full issues.


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