Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Guillem March and Rafael Albuquerque
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Clayton Cowles
The warm-up to Joker War continues as Batman realizes he needs to make some changes to face Joker, who has successfully stolen the Wayne fortune. Catwoman is severely injured, Wayne Manor is being repossessed, and stalwart Lucius Fox reveals that he can’t possibly replace Alfred. Things in Gotham are bad, and they’re promising to get worse.
Like Talking Comics luminary John Burkle, I find that Tynion IV’s run leaves me wanting something. . . else. Or maybe just something more? It’s unfortunate that Tynion IV is following Tom King, because I think I’d be more impressed with the story if Tynion IV had gone first. In my head, I keep comparing this arc to The War of Jokes and Riddles. In both stories, flashbacks play an important role, as does the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle. But this newer story feels like a cover band trying to compensate for their slightly less impressive musicianship by just playing everything a little louder.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to recommend about this book. The art is wonderful, and it’s fun to watch Bruce Wayne not get what he wants when he pays a visit (via flashback) to Cassander Wycliffe Baker, DC’s answer to Sherlock Holmes in contrast to the James Moriarty of the Designer. Unhinged Joker (but still oddly able to execute nuanced, long-ranged schemes) is my favorite version of the Joker.
VERDICT: Even a Batman book that you wish was going in a slightly different direction is still one of the best superhero books on the stands. I’m still stinging from the “reveal” that Joker was the present day Designer, and so help me, if that gets unraveled I will be thrilled. (The costume design alone should ensure a new Designer emerges, at least.) In the meantime, this book is still a Buy because it’s good, even if it isn’t as good as it could be.