Maybe I’m just getting used to this story arc, but I don’t hate this issue as much as I have the past few. It’s still not very good, but it’s mostly mediocre in the same way that plenty of other comics are. Dennis Culver has managed to put a leash on the absurd chaos of the story that has been running up until this point. We’re beginning to move into a position for the finale that looks to be a standard fight to the finish and a fairly satisfying wrap up. HOWEVER, this issue does introduce one incredibly stupid element at the very end, but I will get to that later.
The story picks up in the middle of the 5-way Batman fight that the last issue left off on. Barbara arrives on the scene and an injured Jason explains to her everything that’s been going on with a bunch of people claiming to be Batman showing up at the same time and fighting each other. Laying everything out in an exposition dump like that really highlights just how ridiculous the plot has been so far. All during this scene I half expected Barbara to respond “well when you say it like that, it sounds kind of stupid.”
Thankfully, Barbara is able to solve all the confusion by just having a tech device that tells her who the real Batman is. Is it an anticlimactic way of resolving what was supposed to be the primary source of antagonism in the story? Yes, absolutely. However it was a contrived source of antagonism that I won’t miss. Everyone except Dick and Damian get to stop being stupid and behave like normal people, so the drawn out Batmen cage match can finally come to an end.
One of the big reasons I was excited to be done with the “everyone hates each other for no good reason” premise is that it will hopefully mean an end to the overly dramatic, stilted dialog. It’s still lingering around from some of the characters, but it’s not such an unbearably constant presence like before. However, when that dialog does still show up from characters like Dick, Damian, and Hush, I can’t help but roll my eyes. There is a tenuous, in-story reason for why they are behaving erratically, but it’s still obnoxious to read.
The art is mostly the same as before, but there are far fewer instances of blatantly sloppy work this time around. Sometimes the faces can definitely look a bit wonky, but the way everyone is drawn has proper anatomical proportions. Most of the panels have actual backgrounds, with a few actually looking pretty impressive. When they don’t, it’s usually because there’s an action shot with focus being put on the characters (usually). You can tell how high my bar is at this point.
Since the whole “who is the real Batman?” question has been resolved, the story turns its focus to Hush’s plan to take over Gotham. It’s a plan that never really made a ton of sense to me, especially the part about kidnapping Bruce’s son as a crazy ally. When we finally figure out how Damian fits into his whole scheme, it’s beyond ridiculous.
Damian is possessed by the ghost of Joe Chill, who is forcing him to want to kill Batman. This is so stupid for so many reasons. First of all, the only reason that Hush knows about it is because the magic brane drug comes in clutch once again, allowing Hush to magically know about Damian’s adventures in Hell. Second, how exactly did Joe Chill take over Damian? Third, why? Joe Chill doesn’t have some sort of vendetta against Batman. He’s important to Bruce, but not the other way around. He was just some mugger who shot Bruce’s parents. Is he trying to “finish the job”? Finally, as a creative decision by the writers this just reeks of bringing in a recognizable name for pure shock value. I know that’s just what comics do, but this is too far.
The backup story is a reprinting of She Lies at Midnite by Adam Hughes from Batman: Black and White (2014) #6. It’s a wonderful little story that is a perfect encapsulation of Catwoman and Batman’s relationship, but I’m not going to give this issue any bonus points for reprinting an old story from 8 years ago. You can read the review of the original issue here, written by our editor Andrew back when he was still the one writing all the reviews.
- You’re ready for the plot to actually progress
- You like your Batmen teaming up instead of fighting
- You want to pay full price for a reprint of a great short story from almost a decade ago
Future State: Gotham #17 is still not a very good story, but it’s definitely an improvement from where the series has been. The art looks decent, and most of the annoying aspects of the plot are cut off. While the plot still doesn’t make a lot of sense, I can see this as a course correction towards a somewhat satisfying series conclusion. That being said, the twist at the end is schlock of the highest order and makes no sense.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this issue for the purposes of this review.