Is it just me… Or does it increasingly feel as though Tynion doesn’t like Batman? I mean, DC just continues to beat him down, but never make any strides to build him back up. The point of this is to be a hero’s journey, right? Right? We still believe in the hero’s journey, don’t we? Ok, am I the only one in the room who knows what the hero’s journey is? Is that a yes? Ok…
This month’s Batman features Batman going toe-to-toe with Peacekeeper-01. Having déjà vu? Yeah. Exactly. If you read Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora’s Future State: Dark Detective, then you should be feeling a sense of deja vu. It’s essentially the same story, but Tamaki and Mora were much better with their execution.
In general, I’m just trying to figure out what DC is going for here. Batman feels like nothing more than regurgitation. The general plot of Tynion’s arcs are essentially knock-offs of previous, classic stories. To make matters worse, each of his arcs are all, basically, the same story repeated over and over again, just with a new coat of paint. Even his “new” characters are nothing more than reimaginations of existing characters. And then we have the repetition of the opening page(s) of the current arc showing the same thing each and every month: Bruce freaking out from Scarecrow’s fear toxin. And yet, for some reason, I keep hearing people talk about how fresh, original, and great Tynion’s Batman is… This is a joke, right?
While Batman vs Peacekeeper-01 is supposed to be the selling point to get people to pick up the comic, the hook is supposed to be the “growing tension” as the DC universe slides towards the reality we saw in Future State. The problem is that I haven’t talked to a single person who likes the Magistrate, or who is excited for/ wants this. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone I talk to was happy to leave the Magistrate behind as nothing more than a potential future, only for DC and Tynion to double down and base their entire run on Future State…
I’m knocking the issue, but I will admit that the fight between Batman and Peacekeeper-01 is actually solid from an execution standpoint – most of which is due to Jorge Jimenez’s pencils, and his ability to create tight, dynamic actions sequences. I was taken out of the action a little because the plot of the fight is a little hard to swallow. Peacekeeper-01 has the upper hand on Batman for most of the issue, and I find that hard to believe. I mean, I get that PK-01 has cybernetic enhancements, but Batman just proved that he’s more than prepared for this in the previous issue when he took out Simon Saint’s assistant. But, nope. Not here. Tynion needs the villain to look like a threat, so Batman’s going to get the crap kicked out of him and need to be saved… again. (God, this really is getting old… Can someone count how many times Batman has been saved since Tynion started writing? Better yet, can someone count how many times Batman has been knocked out to progress/transition the plot? Bonus points for anyone who counts the combo of how many times Batman is knocked out and then saved.)
Circling back to plagiarism – I’m sorry, I meant to say “regurgitation” – I can’t help but feel that the concept of an influential figure manipulating the mayor to create what is essentially a vigilante task force to stop Batman is highly reminiscent of Batman: Prey. If you’ve never read Prey (You should. It’s great.), it features the mayor giving into pressure from Dr. Hugo Strange (*cough* Simon Saint *cough*) to stop Batman through a city-wide task force, and to do so, he recruits a new “hero,” Night Scourge (*cough* Peacekeeper-01 *cough*) to lead the charge. Throw in some neon lights and it’s practically a dead ringer. I mean, hell, you even have the same thematic arguments from the villain: “Gotham was better before you. You brought the crazies. Blah, blah, blah.” There is literally nothing new to be found here aside from Jorge Jimenez’s designs, but more on that later.
Ghost-Maker and Harley Quinn make their presence known as they rescue Batman. This entire sequence is maddening because it is so absurd. Oracle loses communication with Batman, so she sends Ghost-Maker to assist. As they’re approaching the scene, Batman sets off bombs that he’d placed around Simon Saint’s facility, but his intention isn’t just to destroy the facility. No, he times the explosions so that it communicates to Ghost-Maker through morse code. (I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.) Batman then jumps out of a window without his cape or grapple gun, and is banking on Ghost-Maker to save him… *Sigh*
I would like to take this moment to remind you that there has been no communication between Batman and the others. This just happens. I kind of wish Batman would’ve become a pancake because it’s honestly a better alternative than having to accept what actually takes place. I’d also like to remind you that just a few issues ago, it was well established that Ghost-Maker ignores Oracle’s calls, so how convenient is it that he just happened to acknowledge this call? And we shant forget that Ghost-Maker was trying to murder Batman in the previous arc, so it makes perfect sense that he’d risk his own life for him here…
I can’t. There is no logical character or plot progression in this book. It’s maddening.
There is one moment, one, where I thought things might be right with the world, and it’s the moment when the villain calls out Batman for aligning himself with known murderers. I’ve been saying this for months now! It’s one of the main reasons I’ve greatly disliked Tynion’s run. Aligning with murderers is so far removed from who Batman is, that I can’t bring myself to enjoy what we’re getting. And sure, Batman has teamed with villains and murderers in the past when it was a means to an end, but that’s not what this is. He has actively taken these people in and put them ahead of his long-time allies.
Anyway, Harley’s contribution to the story is that she reveals that she knows Peacekeeper-01 from her time in Arkham – both as a psychiatrist and a patient – and that’s about all she does here. We get a “reveal” that Simon Saint is pulling all of the strings even though it’s been blatantly laid out for us in previous issues, before the issue ends with the cliffhanger – which actually captured my attention just a little. Saint sends the Magistrate to stop the Unsanity Collective, and Peacekeeper-01 falsely reports that they’re being threatened and are under fire before requesting the use of lethal force.
That’s where the issue ends, and if I’m being honest, if I weren’t required to, I wouldn’t read the next chapter.
Jorge Jimenez continues to deliver strong art, and it’s definitely the saving grace of this book. There are some wonderful illustrations that we’re getting, but this doesn’t feel like Gotham. Everything is so futuristic that it doesn’t even feel like this is taking place in the same universe as every other Bat-book that is dovetailing this title. That’s on the editors and group editors more so than Jimenez, but someone should have aligned the design of Gotham for this story.
Tomeu Morey’s colors are outstanding though. He uses a number of vibrant palettes to bring some energy and life to a book that might otherwise be lifeless were it not for the incredible art team. I’ve said this before, but I hate that the art is being wasted on such poorly written and developed scripts. We deserve better from DC’s flagship title, especially when the cover price is $4.99. (By the way, you can get Batman: Prey – 254 pages worth of story – for $16.99 on Comixology. Or, check your LCS to see if they have a physical copy. The value and quality is way better than what you’re getting here.)
If you thought things couldn’t get worse, I’m here to remind you that the terrible Ghost-Maker back-up is still taking place. This time, we get to see Ghost-Maker’s encounter with Instigator. While I did enjoy this better than the previous chapters, it’s still a terrible read and something I’d classify as “bottom-of-the-barrel” comics. Tynion’s desperation to make Ghost-Maker cool by insufferably making him unstoppable is nauseating. In addition to that, the art is sub-par and inconsistent, and I couldn’t figure out what was actually taking place in half of the action panels. I’m still, honestly, in shock that DC is publishing this nonsense because it is that bad.
- I don’t. I was on Thinking Critical on Saturday and we discussed a number of the best Batman stories. Go read those books instead. Seriously. You can thank me later.
Tynion continues to steal other people’s ideas and present them as his own. It’s getting so bad at this point, that I’m shocked someone isn’t yelling “plagiarism!” Batman has become a joke of a comic, and as a result, DC is starting to look like a joke as well. Maybe, at some point, someone will take their job seriously at DC and actually try to make a good Batman comic rather than just rely on gimmicks and cash grabs. One can hope anyway.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.