Batman is back this week after a nearly three month hiatus due to the pandemic, and dammit we’re ready for Punchline. If you’re not super into Punchline, that’s okay too, because Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Riddler are along for the ride with issue #92. To say there’s a lot to enjoy in this issue is an understatement. It feels packed with ideas, setups, and good old fashioned action. It’s a must-read.
“But why though?” you might be wondering, and it’s because writer James Tynion IV and Guillem March are clearly writing the Batman comic they would want to read. It opens with Penguin clearing the way of any plot hanging over the book from the last issue and cuts to Batman and Deathstroke bleeding from an epic fight carried over from the last issue. Enter Riddler and his wonderful game prepared just for the Batman. Cutting from this is the b-plot involving Catwoman and Harley Quinn as they make their way to the Underbroker.
There is a lot of fun to be had with this issue. The Riddler in this issue reminded me of the Arkham video games, with all his manic glee and excitement shining through well. Seeing Deathstroke react to Batman’s incredible riddle schools, wonderful toys, and general badass nature is a delight. All the while, Harley is hilarious as she contemplates sewers. It’s seriously a lot of fun and Tynion is showing us what good, well managed, and highly delightful dialogue can do when it’s fun on top of expository.
The issue looks great too. Certainly, Batman is a bit thicker and more of a boxer with his physique than when we see him most of the time, but the art leans into the over-embellished facial expressions and muscles. Riddler is outlandishly cartoony, but it suits the game he’s playing. There’s a sexualizing of the female characters that are certainly too much at times, but the musculature of the characters is still there to see in Catwoman and it’s never crass in its depictions.
The color by Tomeu Morey does well to distinguish the scenes like the Underbroker’s, layer being bright and clean, while the Batman scenes are cast in reds and greens as he roams the city. It helps break up each scene well.
My only complaint is a little bit of cut-away magic to advance the plot. Batman ends up reaching a villain thanks to some well-placed cutting from Batman to Catwoman and back to Batman. It’s cutting a corner and likely a method to move things along, but I was left wanting to know where they were and how Batman even pulled it off.
This is a knock-down, drag-out fun time. The dialogue is richly layered and entertaining, the plot moves quickly, and the action is intense when it needs to be. This is about as fun as comics can get.