Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Batman #143 Review


Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Sorrentino, Stefano Nesi
Colors by: Alejandro Sánchez, Dave Stewart
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Nesi, Tomeu Morey
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: February 13, 2024

Batman #143 examines the past and the future of the Joker from three points of view in his Year One story.
Is Batman #143 Good?

I'll be clear upfront and say that dispelling Joker's origin story was, is, and always will be a bad idea. Joker is an agent of Chaos, so to give his origin form and structure runs counter to what makes him so unique. Therefore, I'm surprised to report that the second issue in Chip Zdarsky's attempt at a Year One story is pretty good. Barring one or two bits that rub me the wrong way, Batman #143 is an entertaining read.

When last we left the Clown Prince of Crime, he struggled to come to grips with his new appearance and supposedly deceased leader of the Red Hood Gang. While Joke struggled to reconnect with his pre-acid-bath life when he encountered former Batman mentor Daniel Captio, Batman began investigating rumors that the Red Hood Gang wasn't done. In the future, an elderly Joker escaped Arkham and triggered a Jokerization plague on Gotham that's triggered by sound.

Now, Daniel Captio trains Joker to eliminate all fear and doubt as an exciting experiment to see if he can create the opposite of Batman. Captio even shows Joker how to create multiple personalities that are locked away in his mind for specific uses. Meanwhile, Old Man Batman finds Joker, and the two head for GCPD where they find a still-sane Catwoman waiting with the Jokerized Batfamily locked in a jail cell before the Joker unleashes the next stage of his endgame.

Yes, you read that right if it went a little too quickly. Daniel Captio is credited as the "creator" of Zur-En-Arrh and responsible for creating the Three Jokers as different aspects of Joker's mind instead of separate individuals. In effect, Zdarsky is retconning several aspects of Batman and Joker lore to deliver this Year One story. On this point, I call foul, but your mileage may vary.

What's great about Batman #143? Chip Zdarsky brings the reader along on three separate threads - the Joker's training, Batman's hunt for the Red Hood Gang, and the future final confrontation. At times, the issue feels busy but not convoluted or confusing, which is a significant step up over the previous issue. The plots are individually interesting, and I want to know what happens next, which is as good as you could ask for in any story.

What's not so great about Batman #143? Although Zdarsky keeps the three threads straight, the issue does feel busy, and you'd rightly wonder why the future story is even necessary. The "final" fight between Batman and Joker is interesting, but it's unnecessary and only serves (so far) to take up page space when more pages could have been devoted to smoothing out the rough start.

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

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Bits and Pieces:

Batman #143 is a surprisingly taut and engaging continuation of Joker's Year One story. Continuity purists may take issue with Zdarsky's retcons, but at this point, if DC doesn't care, there's nothing to be done about it. Regardless, Batman #143 is a dramatic read.


1 comment:

  1. Was also surprised at how much I liked this issue. Still think this should never have happened because Joker origins are dumb, but the comic did keep me engaged and the art is great