Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Batman #144 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 20, 2024

Batman #144 concludes the three-part Joker: Year One arc with the introduction of Joker's favorite weapon and the eventual cure.
Is Batman #144 Good?

Woo, boy! What a whole lot of nothing this attempt at reimagining the Joker's origins turned out to be. If Zdarsky's pitch sounded like it was going to recast the Joker in a new light from any angle, that pitch didn't translate to the finished product.

When last we left Joker and Batman in their separate timelines, Joker received expert training (or did he?) from Doctor Captio to slough off fear and embrace his insanity as a kindred yet opposite spirit to Batman. Joker eventually killed Captio as he fully embraced his Joker persona. All this happened while Batman assisted Jim Gordon with tracking down the Red Hood Gang under new leadership.

Meanwhile, Batman tracked down Joker in the future to unravel the clues to his Joker plague. When Selina stepped in to help, Joker infected her and unleashed the Jokerized Batfamily on Batman.

Now, Gordon captures the leader of the Red Hood Gang when the criminals attempt to raid the GCPD station for confiscated wealth. Seizing the opportunity, Joke snatches up a dirty cop (Manny) who works for the Red Hood Gang as a test subject to perfect his latest toy - Joker toxin.

In the future, Joker gives Batman the secret of undoing the Joker plague, which bookends the Joker's career by undoing the toy that started it all.

"Huh? That's it? This entire three-parter that interrupted the Failsafe cliffhanger was nothing more than a side story to deliver the history (origin and cure) of the Joker toxin?" you might wonder. Yes, that's right. If DC Editorial had their head on straight, the crux of this story should have been relegated to a succession of backup stories and not positioned as a poorly timed excuse to put out a trade paperback.

Did we learn anything new about the Joker, or did this story elevate his character in any way? No. Worse, Zdarsky's clumsy attempt to reimagine Geoff Johns's Three Jokers arc and sections of other, better-made stories only served to make the Joker's origin convoluted and less powerful.

What's great about Batman #144? Ironically, the positive of Zdarsky's plot is the elevation of Jim Gordon as a certified badass. You probably knew he had strong moral fiber and stubborn adherence to doing what's right, but you probably didn't know he could almost singlehandedly take down the Red Hood Gang.

What's not so great about Batman #144? The whole point of a Year One story is to tell the story you thought you knew but didn't and/or to see a character in a different light. Zdarsky's attempt does neither. In effect, this arc is a waste of time that accomplished nothing worth remembering.

How's the art? The art is good to great to excellent. Several artists were employed for different styles during different timeframes, and it all looks fantastic.

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 #144 concludes the Joker: Year One art by not telling you anything you didn't already know, confusing what you already knew, and focusing on nothing that matters. At least the art looks great, but this needless interruption to the Failsafe story is a complete waste of time.


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, this amounted to a nothing burger quick - I wonder if this was a Zdarsky pitch or editorial mandate....