Batman 2022 Annual #1 review

So far I haven’t enjoyed a single Ghost-Maker story. The character can be, and has been, criticized on many fronts, a big one being that the trope of creating new characters with a connection to Bruce’s past is kind of old and boring at this point. While I absolutely agree with that criticism, for me it’s simply that Ghost-Maker is insufferable. I cringe every scene that he is in because he’s just such a total douchebag. I went into this comic hoping that it would be able to present Ghost-Maker in a different light. Was the creative team successful? Let’s have a look.

This is a story that can sort of work as a one-and-done while setting up the upcoming Batman Incorporated series. In this issue Ghost-Maker becomes the new leader of Batman Inc, and he takes the team on a mission across the world. This could be a very fun adventure, but unfortunately the entertaining parts are heavily overshadowed by the comic’s shortcomings.

For example, this is yet another comic where the writer relies too much on exposition. There are lengthy explanations here, all of which are very dry and not very engaging, which makes the exposition feel redundant and unimportant, even when it’s there to create context. More on the writing front, the dialogue isn’t anything to write home about, either. None of the Batman Incorporated members have anything particularly interesting to say, and they are all lacking in recognizable character traits. There’s also so much dialogue—even in parts where there should not be that much text, like during fight scenes—that it distracts from the art. When I have trouble following the story visually, it often takes me out of the story.

The story structure isn’t quite working for me, either. For example, the annual opens with a flashback to when Bruce and Ghost-Maker were much younger, during their early days of working together, before Bruce was Batman. The purpose of this scene is probably to establish Bruce and Ghost-Maker’s relationship, but it feels completely disconnected from the main plot, and I’m not sure that it adds anything at all. To make matters worse, the conversations between Bruce and Ghost-Maker are entirely filler; they talk about dismantling an organization, but which organization? And why? Who knows?!

The art is solid throughout. The colors are smooth and a good match for Timms’ pencils and inks. I also think that Timms’ use of perspective—which creates depth—and the way he draws sequential fight scenes is pretty strong, even if we can’t see the majority of it due to all those pesky word balloons. I like the minor details; for example, characters in the background reacting to what a character in the foreground is saying—one look at their body language tells you what they think. However, at the same time I think the art is too busy at times, which makes it hard to focus on what’s going on. Perhaps if there were fewer characters, that would not be as much of a problem.

As for Ghost-Maker? First of all, Batman fails to provide any reasonable arguments for making Ghost-Maker the new leader. All he does is kind of vaguely beating around the bush. The Incorporated members don’t even like Ghost-Maker and don’t want to accept him, and when they challenge Batman on this, even Batman doesn’t seem to be sure of what he’s doing. It’s awkward, because to me it almost feels like the creative team isn’t sure why Ghost-Maker is in this book, either, but they somehow have to use him.

Ghost-Maker is also written like a pompous asshole. He’s incredibly arrogant. He sees himself as everyone’s superior. He trash talks everyone all the time. None of the cast members like him. And I don’t like him. I can’t stand this guy, and because of the character’s actions, motivations and attitude, I am actively resisting this entire comic. It really doesn’t help that the comic still seems to want to convince its readers that Ghost-Maker is the coolest dude ever.

Recommended if…

  • You are a fan of Ghost-Maker.
  • You are looking forward to the upcoming Batman Incorporated revival.

Overall: This could have been a fun one-shot adventure, but Ghost-Maker ruins everything. The writing can be dry and boring, or it can be incredibly frustrating whenever Ghost-Maker opens his mouth. The art is solid on all fronts, but sometimes a bit too busy. Long story short, I don’t recommend this issue and I still don’t like Ghost-Maker.

Score: 4/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.