Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Batman #102 Review and *SPOILERS*

A New Mask in Gotham

Written By: James Tynion IV
Art By: Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Carlos D’anda
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 3, 2020

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Well, we have wandered out of the Joker War crossover and we walked right into a transition issue to follow it up. I wouldn’t say that it was really bad or anything, but it was just pointless. I feel like comic book companies continually feel like they have to appeal to new fans rather than keep up with the fans that they already have (and are probably losing) and so in the previous issue of Batman, we got a refresher about how the Joker War will affect things going forward, and let me tell ya, it was a goddamn snooze fest. I get it. There will be some fans that want to jump into the Batman book and jumping on after the conclusion of a big crossover event is as good a place to start as any. That being said, maybe just have a blurb at the beginning of the book like Marvel does? I’m not saying it’s perfect but I much prefer it over wasting 4 dollars every couple of months on an issue that basically catches the reader up. Anyway, we ended the crossover, and caught new people up on the current story. Now we can jump into something new and exciting…. please?

Our issue begins in an abandoned part of Gotham and we slowly move in on a scene. All this time we hear a monologue from a character talking about how much they hate Gotham and if he had billions of dollars, he would pay everyone to leave and then burn it all down so they can start anew. As we come up to the scene we see a GCPD officer who is tied up and hanging upside down. Suddenly the voice is revealed to be that of a new mask in town. He tortures the officer to get information on the kid that is known as Clownhunter. He drives a blade into the officer’s shoulder and we cut away before things get out of hand. We instead catch up with Batman who is taking down a sect of Joker Gang members known as Grinners. These people have tons of facial scarring after being exposed to several different versions of Joker Toxin. Batman speaks with Oracle during his infiltration and they catch up a little bit. Barbara is still trying to figure out if she is more valuable on the street as Batgirl or if her role as Oracle is more important. Batman breaks into the Grinner’s hideout and finds that everyone inside has been killed.

Batman notices that this is a message and he tell Barbara to go dark until he contacts her again and he moves out. We cut to Dublin, Ireland from years ago and we see a man being thrown out of a bar window. A young Bruce Wayne follows him out and we see that Bruce wants the man to train him as he is known as the best knife fighter around. Bruce intends to fight the man to prove himself to be a worthy pupil but he is suddenly interrupted. A young boy wearing a mask similar to that of the vigilante we saw earlier is there and he seems to know exactly who Bruce is and the two share some kind of history. The two begin fighting immediately for the right to be trained by this man. We cut away to the present where we see Harley Quinn trying to convince a local landlord to rent a place out to her. He is against it as she is wearing a costume but when she offers to give him double rent he quickly agrees to her terms.

The landlord shows Harley to her new place but there is someone else watching her. Clownhunter is across the street on the roof of the neighboring building and he is looking into building his own rocket launcher before he is interrupted by the vigilante that we saw before. The two exchange words for a moment before the mystery man draws his sword and goes for the kill only to be stopped by Batman. Batman reveals the vigilante’s name to be Ghostmaker and the two immediately begin fighting. Ghostmaker offers Batman a wager for the winner of the fight and while Batman initially refuses to gamble with Clownhunter’s life, Ghostmaker quickly reveals that what he means is that the winner would get Gotham. This is where the issue leaves us.

So this issue is much better than the last as things actually take place during these pages. A new villain is properly introduced and we even get a little bit of their backstory involved. We see that Oracle has stayed with her new set up and is running support for Batman, and we also see that Harley is still in the city. In addition, we see that Clownhunter is still operating and considering he is going after Harley, he seems to be going after clowns with great prejudice. We end with a big fight getting started and I hope the creative team capitalizes on it. When you introduce a new character into a book like this, you are definitely fighting an uphill battle. If that character is wearing a mask, even more so. Eventually the mask has to be removed and we have to know who the person under the mask really is. That’s not easy to do these days. A lot of times it becomes obvious too easily. This makes me think of Godspeed in The Flash comic. He turned into a really interesting character but every single one of us knew who he was the second he showed up. Now in this case, I don’t know who this character is yet and that’s exciting. However, it makes me worried that he is so tied into Bruce’s backstory. At this point, we should really know who this guy is and the fact that we don’t is a big red flag. However, as much as I am nervous going forward, I would never hold that against this book. The direction they are going is fine and while it may spell disaster in the future, as for right now it’s just a story that I’m curious about going forward.

Bits and Pieces

Batman gets a new storyline underway as we dive into a brand new villain for the series and it’s being presented very well so far. I feel like the few pages we got with them gave me plenty of understanding as to the character’s motivations. We even got a little bit of their backstory but we didn’t dive too deep as things are just getting started. Perhaps this will end up falling flat in the future but as for right now, it’s a very nice start to a new story.


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