Review: Batman #96

"The Joker War" - Part Two
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Review by Max Byrne

Glimpses of a Utopian, dreamlike future, dark trips down memory lane and gruesome shocks to the (bat)system. Batman #96 is a book that never stops moving, and is an unstoppable force of perpetual motion. Such a vibe is typical of James Tynion, and has become the hallmark of his run on this title, to date. In terms of bang for your buck, this series is delivering value for money in no uncertain terms.

Following the buzz generated by the new bat-suit glimpsed in the previous issue, it was going to be interesting to see how said outfit was utilised by the creative team. No spoilers here, but it's safe to say that it has a specific purpose, and it's there to tell a specific story, which dominates the first half of this issue. All clear blue and vibrant, this is a look at a brighter, older Dark Knight, with a life that seems pretty good! All of us DC aficionados know however, that the idyllic lifestyle never lasts for long for Mr Wayne, and with a jolting, shocking, and literal twist, Tynion brings us back to reality.
It's during these dark turns that the artistic team really reaches for the stars, and beyond. Jorge Jimenez depicts a "snap" to the system that would make even the most hardened reader jump out of their skin. A visceral, bone snapping piece of artwork that has to be seen to be believed. The colour work of Tomeu Morey is also on best form, providing an almost unchecked vibrancy that makes the pages truly an engaging assault on the senses, in the best way possible.

The overall narrative of the current arc is, of course, progressed, with The Joker's master plan, and schemes for spending his new found wealth becoming very apparent. A wonderfully twisted recreation of The Monarch Theatre, and its screening of a certain Zorro movie, is ominous and scary. Coupled with the typically self aware Batman realising that he's in the midst of a Joker-induced psychotic break, the unease is palpable. Considering the villain at the helm has no limit as to how low he will stoop, the mind boggles at what horrors await us over the coming weeks of this Joker War...

Conclusion

A really edgy and uneasy read, Tynion continues his hot streak here... and then some. Anybody that feared that Tom King would be too hard an act to follow (guilty as charged) can now certainly allay those concerns. This is top tier writing, worthy of such a flagship title, and the overall package makes this book a must read.

Action packed and fast moving, but never at the expense of character and plot, it would be hard to imagine a Batfan that isn't enjoying this. Long may it continue.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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