This arc focusing on Straightman started with an interesting premise: how do Batman and the US government deal with a Captain-America-esque super soldier who’s been brainwashed into being a henchman for the Joker? It was a mystery based on small clues that had been planted since the beginning of the season. However, from there, the plot started to get a bit lost in itself as it tried to juggle so many different story elements. Thankfully, this last issue seems to manage to pull everything together and stick the landing.
The issue begins with Task Force X looking for the Joker in one of his and Harley’s old hideouts. Right away the story establishes its comedic tone as the group questions the absurdity of why they are constantly using abandoned fun houses. It’s the perfect set up for Joker’s big entrance, and every line of his dialog would feel right at home in the cartoon 30 years ago. He maintains complete control of the situation despite coming across as ridiculous, and pretty much every joke lands. His entire plan leans into the preposterous without ever losing its threat, which is exactly what you want to see in a Joker story.
With Joker commanding the Task Force X crew with his scenery-chewing Patton impression, the story throws itself into high gear for the big climax as everyone fights over Straightman. It’s a hectic battle that mostly gives everyone something to do so that no one feels like they’re uselessly filling space. The action is kept lively and energetic by Ty Templeton’s art, which continues to do a satisfactory job mimicking Bruce Timm’s style from the show, barring some minor errors in a few panels. The fight is exciting and you’re fully invested in what’s happening in any given moment.
If there’s one problem with the big climax, it’s that there’s too much going on. Despite what is ultimately a fairly straightforward plot, it often feels like the story is being rushed from one scene to the next in order to hit all the different threads. It’s not nearly as egregious as last month’s issue, but some sequences could benefit from being given more time to breathe before the reader gets pulled to something happening somewhere else. This is possibly felt most noticeably in the story’s epilogue, where everyone’s “where are they now” narrations get rushed through in order to finish before the comic ends.
While it might have trouble fitting everything in, when the story focuses on its human elements it really shines. Straightman’s story is more engaging and sympathetic than ever before. Amidst all the chaos, the simple scene of Straightman sitting alone in an alley, cooking rats is probably the most memorable. He’s no longer manic like before, but the scars of Joker’s indoctrination are clear, making it all the more tragic as he tries to think up good jokes for a comedy routine. One of my complaints of his character before now was that it was difficult to put emotional weight on someone who doesn’t react to anything. However, seeing his pain as the result of being passed around as a pawn by Joker, the military, and Professor Strange adds a sense of pathos to the story’s center.
- You’re a fan of the Joker as he was written in Batman: The Animated Series
- Straightman’s story up until now has kept you interested as to what might happen to him
- You like chaotic action mixed with comedy
After a shaky first couple of issues, Batman: The Adventures Continue Season 3 #5 manages to deliver a solid finale to the Straightman story. It’s an exciting climax while still being genuinely funny, which is critically important when writing the Joker. The pacing can at times still feel hectic as it jumps from one scene to the next, but it still remains engaging all the way to the end.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.