James Tynion IV can write Batman for years to come if you ask me. So far, he’s been able to write a clever, fun, and action-packed sort of book — the popcorn summer blockbuster we sadly can’t have thanks to the pandemic. Issue #92 was a penultimate issue for the latest story arc, and yet it delivered in droves.
Penultimate issues commonly save all the fun for the last issue and just act as setup, but that wasn’t the case this time. Instead, he and Guillem March have made an incredibly impactful and enjoyable story that closes out this week with a bang. If you weren’t excited about “The Joker War“, you might be after reading this issue.
This issue opens where we left off as Batman faces off against the Designer, Catwoman works out her plan with the Under Broker standing by, and Harley fights Punchline nearly to the death. It’s an epic collection of plots that builds towards a resounding conclusion that changes everything. It’s an effective turn in the story as we dive into Joker taking things over from here. It’s also layered well, so it’s not overly expository or confusing. It does get a bit into the Wayne fortune, but it’s interesting thanks to Batman attempting to piece out what the plan was all along.
Tynion cleverly sets up the conclusion by showing us Batman had the upper hand, but maybe he shouldn’t be so sure. Without a doubt, this is a story we haven’t seen before and it’s setting up a wild ride for every character involved. This issue also further cements the fact that Punchline is a solid character well worth paying attention to.
March and Javier Fernandez’s art, backed by colors from Tomeu Morey and David Baron, has a dark melodic nature to it with many montaged pages spilling characters and panels into each other. There’s a storytelling mechanic in the narrative that is conveyed well in the art. As characters speak about what they think is happening, the art flows down the page to convey these imagined narratives. The fight between Harley and Punchline is also easy to follow and well-choreographed.
If I were to find any grievances with the issue, it might be convenient elements that shift the plot forward — Deathstroke comes to mind — and I’m also a bit perplexed by how the Designer works. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but an explanation of how this character even functions would be nice!
I had fun with this issue, and while it wasn’t quite as sharply written or fun as the last, it’s a good conclusion that serves as a great segue into “The Joker War” you can’t miss. Honestly, I was lukewarm on “The Joker War” for some time, but how things shift around in this issue I’m incredibly excited to see how Harley, Catwoman, and Batman can thwart the dastardly Joker.
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