Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Batman #146 Review


Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Jorge Jiménez
Colors by: Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Jorge Jiménez, Tomeu Morey
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: April 2, 2024

Batman #146 explains it all by revealing how Failsafe rose to become the new Batman and how Gotham is reacting to a newer, harsher stance on crime.
Is Batman #146 Good?

To paraphrase another popular phrase from the MCU, "It was Captio all along." At least, that's what Chip Zdarsky would have you believe in Batman #146, and this issue goes a long way toward spelling out how Captio played a long game to make Failsafe possible.

When last we left Batman, he found himself the latest resident of Blackgate Penitentiary with the Joker and a myriad of criminals, captured by the unmerciful hand of Failsafe.

Now, Bruce meets Blackgate's new warden, Captio, who explains it was he who implanted Zur-En-Arrh in Bruce's mind at a young age, complete with a trigger phrase that would send Zur into "Find and Protect Captio" mode. Captio finessed the Joker into divulging everything he knew about Bruce and Alfred, using that information to concoct a devious plan.

Joker knew Alfred could override Failsafe in the event of an accidental activation. Now that Alfred is dead, Captio convinced Joker to help Penguin fake his own death, knowing it would trigger Failsafe. Without Alfred around to undo the activation, Captio knew the plan would force Zur to take over Bruce's body permanently to stop Failsafe. Captio gave Joker the "trigger" phrase he implanted in Bruce years ago but lied about what the phrase would do, so Joker thought he would bring Zur under his control, but uttering the trigger phrase really sent Zur to release Captio from Joker's cage and submit himself to Captio's control.

Failsafe roams the streets of Gotham as an unstoppable crime machine, Joker sits in Blackgate with a broken back, Bruce managed to escape Blackgate during a riot and flee Gotham, and Captio now sits pretty as the Warden of the Failsafe/Batman-commandeered Blackgate with an entire population of criminals for him to use and experiment on as he sees fit.

Did you get all that? Well, if you didn't, that's why we're here. ;)

What's great about Batman #146? Love him, hate him, or couldn't care less about him, this issue puts Captio on a pretty tall pedestal as the guy who was able to outsmart, outmaneuver, and out-manipulate the Joker, Batman, and everyone in between. When Failsafe first came on the scene, it appeared Zdarsky was attempting a fresh twist on the Tower Of Babel storyline, but this issue clarifies the plot is something potentially more complex, which elevates the originality factor.

What's not so great about Batman #146? Captio's plan easily crosses the line between complex and complicated/confusing in multiple spots. How did the world's greatest detective not figure out Penguin faked his own death? Does Failsafe still think Penguin is dead? Once Failsafe learns Penguin isn't dead, why doesn't he simply shut down? Where is the GCPD while all this is happening? If Failsafe tells the Bat-Family he took over because Bruce is dead, why hasn't asked to to see the body, hold a funeral, mourn him, etc.?

Despite Zdarsky's best efforts to wrap up the arc quickly with a clever and complex amount of exposition, there are too many plot holes to make it work. Like so many other DC titles, it appears Zdarsky rushed to a conclusion to prepare for the forthcoming Absolute Power event. Admittedly, Zdarsky's rushed ending is better than most others, but it feels overexplained and overstuffed.

How's the art? Jiménez's art looks fantastic. This issue has the most effective usage of silhouettes I've seen in recent memory, so the drama factor on the visuals is high.

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 #146 rushes to explain how Captio is the mastermind behind everything, which explains a lot in a complex, exposition-heavy end to this act, just in time for Absolute Power. Unfortunately, Zdarsky's complex explanation often sounds confusing, and several plot holes are left on the table.



  1. Part 1 Negatives: Ok so in continuation to my review for last issue, the problem with multiple personalities remain, but this issue did make it a bit better by having a young Bruce probably going for a meditation technique but not realising his teacher is taking advantage of his still trusting nature. That makes way more sense than Bruce willingly going through with a alternate personality program. Though didn't Dr say last issue that bruce considered it, backed out but then eventually completed the program himself later? Am I missing something or is Zdrasky contradicting what he himself had the Dr explain last issue? Aside form that we go back to the negatives by still insisting on this idea that joker was created and took orders from this guy when it seriously makes it non sensical cause it ignores all the other times joker was just doing other things and the dr was just sitting in his cell and waiting for what? That eventually during all these years joker would do what he wanted? If he is such a mastermind and this was all his plan then why didn't he have joker kill alfred instead of jason todd, then fake kill one of the rogues to activate failsafe years ago? Why did they have to wait for alfred to die due to some other crisis? And can they stop wih this exaggeration of who joker is? He was a threat when he was just a serial killer with a motif occasionally working for others and occasionally just creating chaos in gotham to watch it burn and opposed batman in his efforts to rehabilitate the city but they keep insisting on this fatalistic two sides of the coin mortal enemy master planner version that takes away from the character( I hated the idea that he basically controlled jason todd from childhood as well for example especially since they never properly delve into what these kind of plans would actually mean and how it would impact others). The line that he could have killed everyone he just doesn't want to is absurd. If so then why didn't he fake kill jason todd instead of actually killing him to keep his plaything alive??? Do you see when instead of writing a story that fits these established characters you just write what you want without any accommodation for the history then go back to explain away contradictory instances, how it would constantly break the story like this? I don't understand why joker has to be an apprentice to this dr instead of the dr coming into town recently and making a deal with joker to achieve all this, everything could still go the same and then there wouldn't be this much contradiction. The only reason i can see for this is the obsession with joker as being behind everything and also making this new character more grand than he is when he could've been cool without training joker.Also another problem with this issue (and the current DC) is that they don't even try to keep some cohesiveness between titles because in this issue they say that they chose penguin because he isn't as smart or a planner like riddler and others but according to Zdarsky himself and Tom King penguin is this super scary smart guy who everyone is afraid of returning that basically controlled the whole city. So which is it? Since this is a tactician explaining his whole masterplan to us readers and who knows people so well to manipulate them, then I don't think we are meant to think he has read penguin incorrectly so this is a very unnecessary contradiction. All characters are cool and smart when the current writers are writing them untill some other writer writes another character that goes against them and then implies how dumb the character actually is. Either this or someone has to go check if penguin has a Zur personality installed in him too lol.

    1. Part 2 The postives: The whole problem with these recent issues is the backstory they keep pushing, as soon as they go back to the present time the plot gets better and actually sometimes even good. I still like this premise of robot batman trying to prove himself to others while real batman is trying to make things right, though I am a bit wary of Zdarsky writing batfamily because they usually come off as very whiny and ungrateful except once or twice in his title but for now they are fine enough. But I don't think it would take them this much time to figure somethings out like when or where bruce was last seen or trying to check blackgate for themselves. For now it is not that big of a problem but if it keeps going it will be since this isn't their first identity problem. They literally live in a world withh shapeshifters and mind control and brainwashing. All in all this issue is a mid 5 or 5.5.

  2. I think DC's problem over all is that writers are focused on telling "their" story...and customers are focused on "their" characters. Taken as an "Elseworld" this run might be OK. But as story in the world of known characters and rules,it just doesn't. Of course, if it were an Elseworld story, the book wouldn't sell...which leads to the bait and switch. Readers are left to either ignore established character traits and prior story lines, or just be mired in confusion. Tough to shell out money to be confused...not matter the skill of the writer or the writer's need to make a "mark" on the character.

    1. This is true but still I would argue this story would need to seriously consider its plot holes regarding the Dr's masterplan to be satisfying as an elseworld cause in elseworld stories the focus of the readers would be on the plot a lot more than mainline titles since they are way more forgiving with long running titles' plot holes than they are with stand alones generally. For example that meandering horrible joker interlude or that awful gotham war arc would not stand the scrutiny that an elseworld story would attract. Readers still say Zdrasky is good for example for that one or two issue he did way back when he started despite him writing so many horrible ones since then and they still stick with his run but if this was just a black label book or something they would take a look at the batman and joker backstory the Dr is explaining this issue, get uninterested and then move away to other titles.

  3. Ok so six days later, I just listened to Jim and Eric's review of this issue right now and I have to say they are right about the current storyline not being good either. My review above had the backstory bits in negative but put some of the present storyline in positive, however Jim and Eric made me realise that little piece of positives I was giving this issue also didn't make any sense and worse still outright contradicts character. Especially considering the fact that all of Bruce's friends and family are wayyyyy more relaxed with the idea that he apparently says he has died and uploaded his consciousness in a robot. All the problems with the prison being able to exist as it is also stands. So basically my updated review of this issue is even more negative sadly and puts only the concept of robot batman trying to convince others while real batman tries to make things right again as positive and everything else (all the setup and plot) is either nonsense, out of character or both! New rating: 3 or being generous 3.5