Review: Batman #104

"Ghost Stories" - Part Three

Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Ryan Benjamin, Danny Miki, Bengal & Guillem March
Colour Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Review by Max Byrne

The narrative is split in this barnstorming new issue, between the Ghost-Maker and his dominance of the present day, and a wonderful trip down memory lane to a bygone, GOLDEN age. Not only does this help to add even more meat to the bone of the excellent new antagonist's backstory, but it also serves to spotlight the experiences of the past from the perspective of a certain Dick Grayson. This is a wonderfully effective choice from Tynion, as it shows how this particular long -standing rivalry affects not just the central twosome, but also those in their blast radius.

What a treat it is to see an extended flashback to the days of Dick Grayson as the first Robin, as so many years have passed since those heady days. Make no mistake, this is no mere exercise in nostalgia, as Tynion uses this trip to the past to highlight the twisted bond between Batman and Ghost-Maker, as we learn so much more about the actual friendship that existed (or still exists), between these two warriors, and the uneasy form of détente they have established. 

As an aside, it was also a real thrill seeing several panels depicting Bruce's formative years of training with a parade of great characters, such as Wildcat and Giovanni Zatara, each giving Bruce a different aspect of his skill set.

The events in the present day take centre stage of course, as Batman, Harley and Clownhunter are held captive in Arkham Asylum. Despite this locale being endlessly depicted over the years, this writer always gets a twinge of excitement whenever the travels of The Bat lead here. With danger lurking around every corner, I always look forward to seeing who and what may make an appearance. Is Thomas Wayne still there? Did Bane cripple or kill him a few months ago? I'd love to know for sure!

There are no fewer than four artists plying their trade in this issue, but what could've been a recipe for disaster actually works out fairly well. At no point did I find the differences between the pencillers jarring, instead I found the art to be extremely vibrant and eye catching, with plenty of treats for the eyes to be found. Is it worthy of gracing the pages of DC's flagship book? In my eyes, certainly!

The ending of the issue is certainly an interesting cliffhanger, with Ms Quinzel in a tight spot to say the least! No spoilers here of course, but let's just say she's left in a very compromising situation, with Clownhunter living up to his name to say the least.

Conclusion

Batman #104 is one of the best issues of the title in recent weeks, offering plenty of content for readers to get their teeth into. I love the flashback material, and really hope that all this build up and investment in the Ghost-Maker character leads up to a worthy pay-off. In Tynion we trust!


Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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