Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed this issue of Batman. It’s far from perfect. Hell, it’s far from great. But… Miracle Molly might be the best character that Tynion has created during his run on Batman. Unfortunately, this book feels like anything but a Batman book.
There are currently a lot of moving parts occurring in Batman at the moment. We have two different timelines taking place: present-day and the recent past. Each issue, so far, has started during the present day and featured Scarecrow torturing Bruce Wayne. Honestly, three issues in, and having practically the same opening scene each month is old. Find something new. Also, it appears as though there’s a bit of a contradiction going on here as the previous two issues had Scarecrow unaware that Bruce is Batman, but here he seems to know this information. I’m just going to throw it out there, I’m not a fan of Scarecrow knowing Bruce’s identity.
Anyway, we look back to the recent past and pick up where the last issue left off. Bruce Wayne has gone undercover as Match – not Matches Malone, just Match… which is essentially a “what if Jim Gordon was a tatted daddy on the wrong side of the law” – and is looking to infiltrate the Unsanity. I ranted about my feelings toward the Unsanity, what they stand for, and the sycophantic followers that buy into their beliefs last month… But… My opinion has changed a little here. Not because of what they stand for necessarily, but because of Miracle Molly.
Consider me shocked, but Miracle Molly is easily the most fully realized character that Tynion has created. His previous attempts at creating new, compelling characters have all felt rather hollow or forced. Punchline was a shell of a replacement character. Clownhunter is obnoxiously self-righteous and indulgent. And Ghost-Maker feels like a desperate attempt at self-expression in hero format that is so forced it’s unbearable. But Molly feels… real. And that’s surprising for a girl with cybernetic enhancements, green hair, a glider, and a wild outfit. But, hey… It works.
We spend nearly the entire issue with Bruce as Match following Molly, learning about her, and learning about the Unsanity. It’s one big exposition dump, but it’s presented in an interesting way because it’s made personal by Molly. We don’t necessarily get to experience the reality we know of the Unsanity, but instead, her perspective, her mission, and how the two paths cross.
I think what attracts me to her as a character the most is her transparency. It feels very accurate for today’s youth. She’s been screwed over enough. She’s been lied to enough. She’d rather you be upfront and honest, even if you oppose her way of thinking, than lie to her. If you’re going to screw her over, just be honest about it. There’s even a portion where she calls Bruce out for wearing prosthetics, and comments on how wearing a mask is more honest than a disguise. The moment is insignificant but impactful.
What doesn’t work for me though, is that this doesn’t feel anything like a Batman book. It’s too futuristic. It’s too Batman Beyond. We just had two arcs where the whole purpose was to strip Batman of tech and get him back to grounded, street-level stories (Tynion’s words, not mine), but here we are with this neon future full of A.I. that isn’t even close to being realized. And yes, I do realize this is a comic, but it feels like the antithesis of what we were promised.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautifully stunning book and Jorge Jimenez does some incredible work… But it’s not Batman. This isn’t Gotham as we know it. Even most of these characters feel like they’re something that Tynion created for a creator-owned project that was rejected time and time again, so he just decided to throw it into Batman making this feel like one giant, fan-fiction misstep. So, again, it’s not Batman.
I also question the purpose of this issue other than introducing Miracle Molly. Do I like her? Yeah! So far she’s great. The only narrative beats we really get here is a half-baked attempt for us to understand the Unsanity and further set-up of the Magistrate… Which, in case you don’t remember, most people didn’t care for while reading Future State, so I doubt they’re interested in the groups ascension.
And then there are the subplots that aren’t even touched on concerning Renee Montoya, Ghost-Maker, Harley Quinn, and others. I mean, I don’t really care for those plots anyway – which is why I probably liked this issue – but I also think they should have been acknowledged at the very least. But… They weren’t.
Jorge Jimenez continues to deliver outstanding art, and I continue to hate that he’s tied to a book that just fails to deliver on a scale that I think he deserves. He’s such a talented artist, but these scripts don’t allow him to be the storyteller that he is. I mean, this guy manages to bring the nuances of relationships to life so well, and we barely get any of that in Batman.
Despite his quality – and Jimenez is one of the best in the industry today – I have to admit I’m not a fan of his designs. Or, again, at least not for Batman. Punchline, so far, is the only character design that I liked for this universe. The others, while I might like them, feel like characters cameoing from some other random brand/ crossover. It’s a minor gripe, but it does bother me, and I do feel it takes away from the story at times.
Cowardly Lot: Part 3 score: 6/10
Last month I trashed this story for a multitude of reasons… Namely, because everything presented here feels like bottom-of-the-barrel fan-fiction that embodies the exact thing that gives comic books a bad reputation with non-comic readers. You know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, we pick up where we left off. Ghost-Maker is fighting robot tigers with laser eyes (I’m not %$@!#$% kidding), before we learn about a previous encounter he had with one of the other bad guys, and then the story ends. It’s terrible writing with terrible characters that are full of terrible cliches. Everything about this is so bad but so self-impressed that it’s unbearable. Like, I feel bad for people buying Batman – which already isn’t great – because they’re paying extra for… this.
Ghost-Maker score 1/10
- Miracle Molly is actually an interesting character that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
- Jorge Jimenez’s art is definitely worth checking out.
In a number of ways, this is a step in the right direction for Tynion. Miracle Molly is actually an engaging and interesting character, and if handled correctly, I think she could have an incredible impact. Does she have lasting potential? I don’t think so. However, I think she can be utilized well enough here that she will always be remembered. As for the story itself, it’s still just “meh.” For me, Batman just doesn’t feel like a Batman book. Oh, and skip the Ghost-Maker back-up story. It’s atrociously bad. In fact, I’d ask your LCS for a discount or demand that DC print copies without it…