Batman #125 review

I haven’t been enjoying Batman for a while. King’s run was okay for me, but I feel like Tynion was running this whole thing into the ground with every issue. Williamson’s short run wasn’t bad, though it also wasn’t anything to write home about. But now Zdarsky has signed on to write this series, and here’s to hoping he can put out high quality and restore Batman to its former glory. Does he succeed? Let’s have a look.

This is an okay issue. I don’t think it’s the home-run that I was hoping for, but it’s still a pretty fun read. This issue is action-packed, it has Batman in an active hero role, Batman and Tim are a real dynamic duo, and Tim has an good heroic moment as well. This issue feels like a Batman comic, which is more than I could say about Tynion’s run, for example. That said, at times the creative team is playing it so safe that I almost wish they would take a slightly different approach. There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. Batman gets framed for murder; there are some mandatory references to A Death in the Family, a book that I really dislike and which is still referenced way too often; and Penguin has another nefarious scheme that will put lots of people in danger. I certainly don’t mind a more meat-and-potatoes approach, but a little more originality in the main plot would have been nice.

That said, the villain reveal at the very end of the issue is a bit of a surprise to me. It remains to be seen to what extent this villain’s whole concept will truly be original, because we really only see this character in one panel, but if Zdarsky and Jiminez play their cards right, perhaps this new character can be the fresh, new element that will set this story apart from others. Another thing that I find interesting is that Zdarsky announced that the villain in this story will be connected to Bruce’s past. I am sick and tired of new characters with connections to our hero’s past, but in the case of this particular character, I think it makes sense!

While this is a solid, entertaining issue for sure, I’m still questioning certain narrative choices. For example, we see Bruce infiltrating a gala using his playboy persona. I was excited to see that at first, but he pretty much immediately dons a cowl and puts on his belt and starts Batman-ing. At this point I’m wondering why the creative team put in the effort of showing Bruce at the gala, instead of having him simply sneak in as Batman, lurking in the shadows while Tim’s role in this scene remains exactly the same. This wouldn’t have changed the story at all. As it stands, I don’t think Bruce’s appearance at the gala adds anything to the story whatsoever and therefore I think that should’ve been cut.

I also have mixed feelings about the inner monologue and some of the dialogue. Most of it is rather hard-boiled. While that works very well at times, making the comic “sound” more gritty, it also works against the narrative when I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to take certain lines seriously or not. There’s a fine line between writing strong hard-boiled dialogue and parody, and once it’s hard to take the story seriously, I’m kind of taken out of it.

Another point I want to bring up is a character named Colin Fitzroy. I don’t remember having seen this character in older Batman comics and the creative team doesn’t exactly show this character in action, either. Instead, they have Bruce and Tim talk about how amazing Colin was and how much it sucks that he died. Later, they have Penguin trash-talk Colin in an attempt to make Bruce doubt who his old friend really was. This could be a strong plot point if Colin is developed as a character and we actually get to see the relationship that he had with Bruce. Right now it’s so obvious that this is the writer explaining something to the reader about a character that we never actually see and who gets killed off-panel, and that just isn’t good writing in my opinion. Of course Zdarsky only has so many pages, but a scene where Colin and Bruce’s friendship is established would definitely help flesh out this plot point. Now I’m just looking at this whole thing and I’m thinking, “Okay. Sure. Whatever, I guess.”

As for the art, Jiminez and Morey are on fire. The colors are rich and varied, and there is so much energy to the pencils. The action scenes flow incredibly well; the emotions on characters’ faces match the scenes and the context; and the layouts—though not always straight-forward—are easy to follow and enjoy. The art on Batman hasn’t been a problem for years, and it certainly isn’t now. If you’re a fan of Jiminez and/or Morey, or if you’re in the mood for a high-energy action comic, then definitely pick this up.

The backup, also written by Zdarsky, follows Catwoman. The writing is much more upbeat and light-hearted compared to the much darker main story and so is the art by Ortega and Guerrero. The story itself is mainly setup for what’s to come, but I’m not convinced that this is going to be a backup that I will want to keep reading. It’s solid in terms of execution, but right now it’s a bit lackluster. Essentially Selina is tasked with finding people on Cobblepot’s list and that’s really the whole point of this backup. There’s nothing here that gets me excited about the story or that makes me want to recommend it, but there’s also nothing here that makes me want to tell others to stay away from it. I guess it’s just fine. Nothing more, nothing less.

Recommended if…

  • You are a fan of Zdarsky and want to check out the first issue of his run
  • You’re into action comics, especially when they’re drawn by Jiminez
  • Hard-boiled narration is your favorite
  • Tim Drake is your Robin

Overall

I enjoyed reading this issue from cover to cover, but I don’t think it’s a masterpiece. The art is great, but the writing is a bit of a mixed bag. While the main plot is being set up well and both Batman and Tim are real heroes, the monologue and dialogue is so hard-boiled at times that I’m having a hard time taking it seriously. There are also plot elements that are underdeveloped or underutilized, some of which should have been cut. I still recommend this issue if you’re curious about Zdarsky’s new run, though, but I wouldn’t blame you if you waited a while to see if this is really worth picking up. Comics are expensive, after all.

Score: 6.5/10


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