Review: Batman #98
"Joker War" - Part Four
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne
Batman #98 is celebratory, touching, violent and hilarious in equal measure. Just when you think James Tynion IV has exhausted his repertoire, he comes out with an issue like this one. Covering more bases than a world class rounders player, this straddles the spectrum of moods like an effervescent rainbow. One of my favourite issues to date of Tynion's run, this issue had me on the hook from start to finish.
As the cover art suggests, one of the main events on offer here is the much vaunted rematch between Harley Quinn and Punchline. As a collision between Joker's former and current squeezes, it doesn't disappoint.
Equal parts catty dialogue, bone crunching blows, and a tantalising further glimpse into the backstory of the new villainess, this is a scrap for the ages. Sadly cut short before its conclusion, due to some late Bat-interference, it at least keeps the powder dry for these two bonkers women to duke it out once again, further down the line.
For those that recall the events of the previous issue, our titular hero was left in the thrall of some delightfully diabolical tea, courtesy of Harley. Designed to help combat the ill-effects of the toxin he was previously exposed to, the dream state of Bats is the cue for a series of quite wonderful exchanges with Alfred. Yes, Mr Pennyworth is still very much deceased, but this has been a most welcome return to the main stage for this evergreen character.
The back and forth between the surrogate father and his son is expertly executed. The relationship between the two feels authentic, and true. Alfred is every bit the man we are accustomed to seeing, even in this abstract reality. Equal parts a sounding board, agony uncle and - most specifically - a dispenser of tough love, he truly serves a noble purpose here.
Without wishing to give too much away, the role Alfred plays in bringing Bruce back up to his top level is so touching, yet fist-pumpingly brilliant, I feel that fans will enjoy it in spades. Whether this is the last we'll see of the world's most butler remains to be seen, but it does feel like the end... for now.
As always, Jorge Jimenez brings his A-game to the proceedings, with art that explodes off the page. Augmented by the delectable colour work of Tomeu Morey, this issue has a vibrancy that represents real value for money. With the writing of Tynion combining with these wonderful artists, a perfect storm is brewing.
Gripping from start to finish, Batman #98 is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Whilst the overall story arc might not have been advanced greatly, there's still enough meat on the bone to enjoy here. Beautifully measured and very accessible, this is a book that's very easy to read, and I;m sure that everyone will find something within it to enjoy.
Now, let's race towards the final stages of "Joker War", and enjoy the ensuing carnage that's about to inevitably ensue.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment