Honestly… Burn it. Just burn it. Do yourself a favor and just burn it because this book is awful.
This issue starts off with another flashback between Bruce and Ghost-Maker. AKA: another failed attempt to try and get us to understand why these two men are supposedly great friends. I don’t buy it. At all. You shouldn’t either. I think they respect each other because of their past and their skillset, but nothing about these two and their relationship says, “friends.”
The flashback is ultimately just another instance of Ghost-Maker telling Bruce that he’s wrong and embarking on a child’s mission. Blah, blah, blah. We’ve gotten this speech at least once every issue, so there’s nothing new here, it’s just a waste of pages. There is a weird, gay undertone here though. It almost comes off as if Ghost-Maker loves Bruce, and is really just upset that he’s leaving. It’s odd. All of it is odd. And before anyone gets pissy in the comments about me potential being homophobic or something, I’m gay and love gay representation… but this is weird.
Anyway, jumping to present day, Clownhunter has been left untied to allow him an unobstructed opportunity to kill Harley Quinn. This is what Ghost-Maker wants. He wants Clownhunter to kill Harley so he can then kill Clownhunter, and he wants Bruce to watch all of this. I genuinely like this angle from Ghost-Maker. I don’t think it’s very fresh, but the concept is a solid one.
However… I also believe this concept isn’t as effective as it could be based on how it is set-up and presented. I mean, Ghost-Maker is basically waiting for Clownhunter to go too far, but he’s already gone too far. He’s already killed. This is why I have a problem with Batman supporting Clownhunter the way that he is. Now, if Clownhunter had just attacked clowns during Joker War, and saved or protected citizens without actually killing anyone, this would be a lot easier to swallow. It could also make this interaction much more impactful.
Just imagine if Clownhunter hadn’t killed anyone, and there was just a generic clown tied down to the table in this issue. Now imagine Ghost-Maker coaxing him into believing that the only way to create actual change is to kill his adversaries, and Clownhunter ultimately decides to kill the clown as Bruce watches. Not only would it make Clownhunter more tragic as a character, but it would also explain, to a degree, why Batman feels somewhat responsible for Bao’s state of mind. But this isn’t the case…
What we actually get is a lot of heavy-handed talking. Too much talking. There’s a moment where Clownhunter decides he’s going to kill Harley, and nothing they say will stop him. He raises his sword to take the killing blow, and before he swings, Batman breaks free from his restraints, throws Harley a batarang, she cuts herself free, and Batman gets up to pull the sword out of Clownhunter’s hands. I mean… Really? How long does it take this kid to swing a sword? And why didn’t Batman just disarm him with the batarang? Again… stupid.
The story only gets worse from here. Despite wanting to kill Harley, Clownhunter essentially stops mid-assault to say, “Ok, let’s talk then.” And then he and Harley literally sit down to talk. This makes no sense! Clownhunter doesn’t want to listen to what Harley or Batman has to say. He’s already heard it and still tried to kill Harley, so why would he just stop and say, “Okay… Let’s talk,” now? This would’ve been much more believable if Harley had subdued him and forced him to listen, then let him up after she said her peace. And even then, I’m not sure Clownhunter would forgive her. At least not immediately. But this, in the way it’s presented… It’s so bad.
What makes this even worse is that I actually like what Tynion writes for Harley here. I think this battle for redemption is what Harley needs as a character. The approach feels like a natural, believable progression. Unfortunately, yet again, the set-up and execution to do this is so bad that it fails to be as effective as it should be.
With the Harley/ Clownhunter drama now out of the way, Batman needs to deal with Ghost-Maker. As expected, there’s a fight. It’s… alright. There really isn’t anything overly exciting in the fight, and the art isn’t the best. But then, right as the fight really gets going, Batman and Ghost-Maker stop fighting. I… I can’t. This book is a joke. I’d take Tom King over this. I mean, Ghost-Maker came all this way to stop Batman because he believes Bruce’s ways aren’t effective. Nothing has happened in this story that would make Ghost-Maker think otherwise, but here he is, just stopping what he came to do and letting Bruce carry on.
But wait! It gets worse! The absolute insanity is what follows…
Batman recommends that Ghost-Maker stay so they can work together to help Gotham, but only if Ghost-Maker promises not to kill… and Ghost-Maker agrees!
This makes no %$@#&^$ sense.
Why would Ghost-Maker suddenly be like, “Yeah, cool! Dynamic duo! I don’t need to kill. I, suddenly, for no reason at all, believe in your method despite the fact that I’ve despised you for years for having the belief and outlook that you do.” It’s so stupid. It’s bad. And all this really is, is DC pushing beloved, legacy characters to the side to try and push a new character. This never works, so I don’t know why they think it will now.
And yes, I fully expect things will go well with Batman and Ghost-Maker for an arc or two, and then Ghost-Maker will kill. And then there will be tension, followed by an arc where Ghost-Maker has to be stopped, the Bat family is targeted and everyone is shocked he’d suddenly do this… You know what? A four-year-old could come up with this. It’s crap.
Then, to serve is the cherry on top of this steaming pile of shit, this issue caps off with Batman making a joke about Alfred’s death… Seriously?
It feels as though it’s becoming more and more clear that DC doesn’t actually care about their characters and books, and they’re going to be shocked when readers start feeling the same way… When that time comes, I won’t feel sorry for them.
There are four artists on this book. Not a single page or panel looks great. Everything about this issue – from concept to execution – is so half-assed that it is frustrating. The lines look rushed and messy. The forms of the characters aren’t consistent. Featured panels are questionable – I’m directly referring to the close-up of Ghost-Maker’s helmet that is clearly meant to create or invoke some type of emotion. Yeah, this is amateur hour at a fanfiction review, and for the flagship book in comics, we deserve better.
- If you want stories where things happen for no logical reason, then here you go!
I love comics. I love talking about comics. I love them with a passion. That’s often why I’m so critical of them, because I know how good they can be and how good they should be… It’s what readers deserve. But this… This is bad. It’s bad to the point that I dread writing reviews every other week. I don’t want to put time and effort into doing this because nobody at DC seems to care about putting time and effort into it. Like… Come on! Have some dignity. Respect the brand you have. Put in a little effort. Actually try.
At this point, I can’t help but feel that it isn’t even worth my time to review these books. This isn’t Batman. And what sucks, is we’re stuck with at least another year to two years of this crap.