Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Batman #125 Review

Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Jorge Jimenez
Colors by: Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Jorge Jimenez
Cover price: $5.99
Release date: July 5, 2022

Batman #125 begins a new ear in the Batman legend as Chip Zdarsky takes over writing duties to usher in a new phase in Batman's history. A murderer targets a string of Gotham's wealthy elites, and when Batman confronts the killer, he finds he's last on the killer's hit list.

Was It Good?

2022 is turning out to be the year for weird takes on Penguin. From Tom King's Killing Time run to Penguin, the Butler in Flashpoint Beyond, every DC writer of note seems to take Penguin out of his established personality framework and turn him into something un-Penguin-like. Zdarsky's take on Penguin may be the farthest version yet.

Zdarsky wastes no time jumping right into the action as Batman (after a brief prologue with Selina Kyle) interferes in a hostage situation involving an old friend. Batman stops the kidnapper, only to find his hostage friends are already dead. The kidnapper, however, is only a hired gun behind the true mastermind - Penguin.

Here, we get a bizarre depiction of Penguin. The Fowl Prince of Crime always has been a consummate businessman and gangster - gathering territory, wealth, and power by playing both sides of every conflict to gain an advantage. Zdarsky's version of Penguin, for a reason never explained, is suddenly concerned with being looked down upon by Gotham's wealthy elite and has turned into an indiscriminate killer to wipe away everyone who was ever born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth.

Penguin, almost always is an opportunist and a scavenger. The opinions of others have only mattered to him as he could use those opinions to manipulate, coerce, and extort his way to more significant gain. 

Check out our Batman #125 Video Review

Why Penguin suddenly decides to turn into the Gotham gangster equivalent of a school shooter is never explained and never set up. For this reason, some Batman comics fans will find this issue divisive.

Batman staves off a mass killing at a charity event and eventually tracks down Penguin, who appears to be dying from Mercury poisoning. Penguin accounts for Batman's arrival and kills himself to make it look like Batman murdered him. Again, another school shooter parallel. With the mastermind behind the killings now dead, Batman framed for murder, and Tim Drake/Robin recovering from a stray gunshot, Batman feels alone and lost.

Some years later, an emergency protocol droid activates within the abandoned Batcave... for some reason. Without specifying it clearly, Zdarsky appears to be another Batman writer of note who uses the time jump trope to generate curiosity. Whether it works here or not is questionable.

Jimenez's art is fantastic in this issue, credit where credit is due. The panels are designed for peak drama. Morey integrates the colors into the long shadows and darkened corridors to keep the book from devolving into muddiness, and Cowles' lettering is top-notch. You may disagree with the characterizations, but you can't dismiss the effective art.


About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

Follow ComicalOpinions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Bits and Pieces:

Batman #125 is a strange tale that portends the beginning of the end for the Caped Crusader. The strangest aspect of all is a wildly uncharacteristic take on Penguin that paints him as a having a school shooter mentality rather than a ruthless and opportunistic gangster. The pacing, dialog, and art are fantastic, so the technical execution is masterful, even if the character depictions are uncharacteristic.


No comments:

Post a Comment