In superhero comics, whenever a beloved run on a character comes to an end, there’s always a bit of anticipation and dread for the next take on the character. Is it going to be good? Will it live up to what came before? That meant my anticipation for Batman #118 was through the roof.
Coming right off James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez’s run, this story had a lot to live up to. I’m happy to say I was pleased with what I read here. The potential for something great is here, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. It comes from Joshua Williamson, Jorge Molina, Mikel Janin, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles.
Gotham is recovering from the Fear State, and Batman is ready to move forward. He can’t do that though when the international Batmen of Batman, Inc., are arrested for a brutal murder- and the twist is that the quintet turned themselves in! Now he’s thrust back into the international underworld to try to discover why five of his allies committed a brutal crime, all while being joined by an unexpected partner…
Williamson takes his time in this first issue to get to the meat of his story, and that’s to his benefit. It gives him time to get used to Batman, Gotham and everything that comes with it. By using the first two-thirds of the oversized issue to tell a conventional Batman story, it gives him time to build to the story’s unique hook. Before that hook, it’s a good, solid, but not really exceptional story. The only thing about the opening of the book I don’t like is Williamson’s take on Oracle, who feels a little more flippant and immature than she normally is written.
That hook is where I really bought into the story, and where I saw the most potential. By bringing in the Club of Heroes, he sets the story apart. They’ve barely been used since Batman Inc., so they don’t feel like a redux of what’s come before. They also are the source of a fascinating twist on the usual murder mystery- the Batmen did commit the crime, even going as far as confessing, but why? It adds a fun spin to the story, especially when we meet the Club’s new benefactor.
The art does a lot to evoke Jimenez’s work, while setting its own visual language. Molina’s Gotham is blocky and gothic, but Morey’s color art links it to Jimenez’s designs for the city. It makes for visuals that transition easily from the previous run, but also is its own thing. Molina’s figure work has evolved a bit into a more smooth ink-wash, creating a depth on the page that I haven’t seen much before (but does mean in a few panels the characters feel a bit stiff).
Even better though, his pacing in the action scenes are spot on. The mid-issue fight between Batman and Firefly is a lot of fun, and it reads like an animated sequence brought to life. Janin’s pages meanwhile blend in with Molina’s, to the point I can’t tell them apart, which is major talent on his part and benefits the book, by preventing a jarring transition between pages.
I’m glad I stuck with the book after this issue. The mystery is interesting, and the art is gorgeous. It’s a great start to the run, that I hope keeps up.
Batman #118 is available now from DC Comics.
In superhero comics, whenever a beloved run on a character comes to an end, there’s always a bit of anticipationCOMICONRead More