Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Batman #98 Review

You Thought You Could Hide?!

Written By: James Tynion IVArt By: Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 1, 2020

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Our latest issue of Batman was, let’s say, frustrating. It wasn’t bad, in fact, there were several things that I really liked about it. The biggest one being the new vigilante Clownhunter. That being said, it ultimately led to a big reveal (that wasn’t that big) and we ended up in the same situation that we were in just 2 issues earlier. To have gone through so much and come out the other side with so little is extremely hard to read. I honestly feel very cheated as a consumer. However, the creative team now has a chance to right the ship. They can take this Clownhunter character and deepen their story. They can capitalize upon this Batman/Alfred situation that we find ourselves in. They can strengthen the Joker’s plan and make it something we truly never want to see come to pass. However, will they? Let’s jump into this issue and find out.

Our issue begins with Scarecrow and Riddler sitting at a chessboard playing a game. Scarecrow tries to get Riddler to make a move but Riddler insists that he is thinking. It isn’t long before the two start fighting. The rest of the villains at the Penguin’s hideout seem rather unfazed as Penguin and Selina are the only two who seem particularly interested in what is happening in Gotham. We cut to what seems to be a flashback to when Bruce was just beginning his work as Batman. He is fine-tuning his batarangs and Alfred joins him as the two talks about saving lives. However, it doesn’t last long as Alfred reveals that this is not a flashback but rather the hallucination that Bruce is currently stuck in. Bruce comes to this realization and the two walk upstairs to fix a proper cup of tea. Back in the real world, Harley is taking care of Batman and she makes some remarks to herself before she hears someone behind her. She assumes that it is Poison Ivy but soon finds out that it is none other than Punchline, and she has brought a flamethrower with her.

Back inside of Bruce’s hallucination, Alfred makes him some tea. Specifically, the tea that he always made Bruce whenever he knew Bruce was at his most stressful. The two begin by talking about the current situation. Bruce is struggling because he was the one that gave the tools for Joker to take over. So much evil will be done with the Wayne fortune. The two then decide to focus on the Joker and Alfred remarks about how he is Batman’s opposite. Even his teammates are just puppets to him, specifically used to mock the Bat-Family themselves. We cut to the real world where Harley is doing her best to save Bruce from the flames that Punchline is pumping into the room. Harley is able to get a shot off which destroys the flamethrower but the fight has just begun as the two begin a proper fight. It goes how you would expect. Punchline tries to throw Harley off by calling her weak. She mocks her with Harley’s own backstory but she then goes into her own about how she saw the chaos of the world and everyone else ignoring it but the Joker was reveling in it so she found him and proved her loyalty.

Harley kicks the fight into high gear and turns the battle in her favor all the while she is explaining who the Joker really is. She believed that he had a heart, but Punchline now believes that he has a brain. In reality, the Joker just used them both in order to further his own obsession with Batman. As she beats down on Punchline, she suddenly is knocked off. Punchline is desperate to prove that Harley is wrong and to do so, she decides to kill Batman herself instead of letting Joker do it. She begins running directly toward his body. In Bruce’s mind, he has broken down as Alfred states some truths that are hard to hear. Batman is struggling because he won’t allow himself to let go of the ones that he couldn’t save. In a fit of anger, Alfred yells at him for holding those in his life responsible for the ones that they couldn’t save. He tells Bruce that he needs to accept that he cannot save Alfred and he cannot save his parents. However, he needs to focus on what he can do because he can still save so many people. In the end, Batman finally wakes up and sees Punchline coming for him. He immediately jumps into action and knocks her out with little effort. He then uses his communications to call everyone in the Bat-Family. At the end of the issue, we see Selina tell Penguin that she is leaving and he tells her that she can’t until the attack is over, but she offers something else. She offers to make him a billionaire. This is where the issue leaves us.

Once again, I find myself frustrated with this book. I want to take a moment to state that this wouldn’t be a bad issue if we were in a normal arc. The issue deals with Batman finally coming to realize his own flaws and resolving to be better in the future. We also see Harley come face to face with a woman that has fallen into the same trap that she fell into years ago. We see Catwoman finally get back into action. Those are good things. HOWEVER, these things are not good in this story because we have been so starved for actual content that it was not the time to slow things down. We got a cool new vigilante in the previous issue and we completely ignored them in this one. Batman deals with inner demons while Harley fights a fight that we’ve already seen. Granted, this fight has more weight than the previous one but still. I’m frustrated because there are things about this book that I like and in normal circumstances, I would like an issue just like this one. However, in the greater context of this book, where it feels like we’ve been running around and accomplishing nothing for issue after issue, this one just feel hollow.

Bits and Pieces

What would normally be considered a pretty good turning point for another book instead becomes a frustrating read as customer who have been keeping up on this Batman book have been waiting for any kind of excitement or story progression to take place and in this issue, some things are resolved but it is hard to not think that we are in the same place we were at the beginning of this issue. An issue that slows things down can be amazing, but when everything about the series has been slow up to this point, it just makes things drag.


No comments:

Post a Comment