THIS WEEK: “Joker War” is over in Batman #100! But what comes next might be even more exciting!
Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey
Well, here we are, “Joker War” is finally over, and we’re back down to two Joker-centric events concurrently being published by DC. And while the beginning of this event was a bit lackluster, the last two weeks have tied the whole thing together in a way that I only hope Death Metal can do and have no hope whatsoever that Three Jokers can. My criticism at the beginning of the event was mostly in that it just seemed like another Joker cash grab. Put the Joker on it, it sells, easy money. The problem there is that it’s such a tried and true plan that we get a neverending barrage of it.
But that’s where the conclusion to “Joker War” seems different. Yes, it’s another Joker story, but it also seems to do two things that most of them don’t. First, it really seems like it’s taking Joker off the table for the foreseeable future. Joker may not win the actual war in Batman #100, but he gets enough of a pyrrhic victory that he’s content to take some time off. In the end, he succeeded in getting Batman to leave him to either die or get himself out of a death trap. While not actually getting Batman to kill him, this is closer than most villains get to tipping Bruce over that edge. Punchline also succeeds in sowing more havoc after the fact with her viral video. The Joker wins by losing, and just decides to go on vacation.
The other thing this issue does really well it does in concert with last week’s Joker War Zone. That issue combined with this one set up the future of the Bat-Family in a way that we haven’t truly seen since before the New 52. Sure there have been family crossovers over the last ten years, but even then the books didn’t feel as connected as they do going into 2021. John Ridley’s story sets up the Fox family in the aftermath of this terror. Threads are left for Ivy, Bane and Clown Hunter stories. Ram V already built a great foundation for Selina. Williamson’s story coupled with the opening of this issue provides an in for a potential Batgirls series with Steph and Cass on the street while Babs is back behind a computer screen.
That opening sequence of this issue really set the tone for me. It made it feel like the Bat-Family I loved again, which has been absent for so long. Barbara reclaiming her Oracle role was important, if for no other reason than that this time she was doing it of her own volition. She chooses to be Oracle, it’s not thrust upon her. This isn’t her doing something because she can’t physically be out with the team, this is doing something because she knows that she’s more valuable as Oracle than she ever has been as Batgirl. The way she just naturally slides back into the role, the way the banter between her and Dick just comes back immediately, this is the dynamic that’s been missing for a decade.
The closest we’ve come recently was during Tynion’s Detective Comics run, so it should come as no surprise that he’d work hard to bring everything closer together on the main book too. For the first time in a very long time, I’m very excited for the future of Gotham City, and it’s because of Tynion and Jimenez.
- If I hadn’t written about Batman #100, I would have written about The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3. The book continues to be an absolute masterpiece on all levels of what make comics great. The writing is crisp and fun, the art is stunningly gorgeous, the letters are some of the best in the business. Kudos to G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, Mat Lopes, and Simon Bowland for continuing to knock it out of the park.
- Lots of good bits to pick from in the Legend of Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular. Swampy isn’t really one of my niches, but I’m glad to see more of these anthologies.
- American Vampire is back for one more run, if you liked the past runs, you’ll probably dig this one.
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