Review: Batman #100

"The Joker War" - Finale

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artists: Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan and Guillem March
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne

After several weeks of expertly crafted build-up, the finale of "The Joker War" is finally upon us.

Following a slow burning pace, dangling a carrot in front of us that remained tantalisingly out of reach, we all hoped that the pay off would give us all a satisfying denouement. Having now read Batman #100, I think that, overall, this was a well constructed end, putting a loose button on recent events and signposting where we can expect to go next with James Tynion IV at the helm.

If action is your bag, you'll get plenty out of this book. More specifically, the entire Bat-Family banding together to overcome the hordes of Joker's minions. I must confess to a swell of delight upon seeing our favourites coming together again, it truly does the heart good.

From a now fully restored Nightwing to Barbara (temporarily?) adopting the Oracle code name once more, it does feel like a sense of the status quo has been restored to Gotham City. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

No spoilers here, but this issue certainly forces Batman to make some difficult decisions, with some truly hard choices put in front of him. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, the ending of the conflict is full of real Hobson's Choice moments. Bats being Bats, he always seems to make the most appropriate of choices. Does that happen here? Probably yes, but the fallout will be considerable.

Decisions, Decisions

Faced with a chance to end his most terrible of rivalries, the morally absolute centre of the Bat means that we as readers know the path he will take. It does work very well though, and feels very true to the character we all know and love.

There's a surprisingly high level of emotional depth on offer here too, particularly involving the Jokerized Alfred Pennyworth. Laying a surrogate father to rest more than once serves to tug on the heartstrings of the reader, and makes for a poignant example of the cost of the superhero life. There's always a price to pay, by both you and the people around you.

As previously mentioned, there are several sections at the conclusion of the story that set up where we might be going next. A new adversary for Batman makes their bow, with an apparent link to his past. When they eventually collide, expect sparks to fly.

Bonus stories at the end of the issue put the spotlight on Clownhunter, Punchline and the fate of Joker, both serving to entertain and entice. Regarding Clownhunter, his true identity and motivation are revealed, showing that there's more mileage in the character. I look forward to seeing more of him further down the road, as it would be a shame for Tynion's own creation to remain on the shelf.

Conclusion

A largely satisfying end to Joker War, Batman #100 is certainly well worth the investment. A heady blend of storytelling, character beats and setups for the future, it brings an era to a close and feels like like the right jumping on/off point for readers old and new.

I've enjoyed Tynion's run to date, and trust him to keep bringing us stories that we can sink our teeth into, finding something we like within. Following Tom King's elongated run was never going to be easy, but he's been more than up to the task. Long may it continue.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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