Batman’s entire world is about to be turned upside down. We thought the Designer was going to do it, but in Batman #93, it was revealed who was behind it all from the start. With “Joker War” kicking off very soon, I’m gonna guess you can tell who is the culprit, but why don’t you read issue #94 to find out how we get there? This issue is very much a table-setting sort of tale, wrapping up how Batman doesn’t bleed out from his stab wounds in the last issue and setting up Bruce Wayne’s mental state as he comes to realize he’s alone in Gotham against all odds.
It’s an awesome idea to take Bruce Wayne’s money away from Batman. Many argue his superpower is being rich, and writer James Tynion IV appears to be prepared with “Joker War” to prove them wrong. This issue has two parts: one is the table setting being done to get Catwoman to a certain place, Joker assuming control, and Batman on the run; the other is what opens the book, revealing in a flashback Bruce Wayne’s attempt to be the greatest superhero detective ever. This latter part is what makes the book well worth reading.
Like with any superhero story, when a flashback reveals something new, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Another writer could erase it, or maybe what we see isn’t quite the truth. To people who think those things, I say who cares? Enjoy what Tynion is doing at the moment to help conceptualize the character in the now. What Tynion unveils here is a young Bruce Wayne inches away from having all the pieces in place to become the greatest hero to ever live, but we soon learn the last piece isn’t something Bruce can have. This is an interesting development since it makes this part of the story psychological.
The captions in this issue help drive home Batman’s mental state, which ties well into the flashbacks. It’s important to understand where Batman’s head is at since “Joker War” appears to be setting up a battle only Bruce Wayne can win. With his money gone, his love life possibly over, and his greatest enemy rearing to strike we learn in this issue what Batman must do next. It all builds quite well to get you excited for a Batman evolution, making “Joker War” not just about the Joker, but about Batman’s development.
The art in this issue is shared by Guillem March in the present-day scenes and Rafael Albuquerque for the flashbacks. March has an old school quality that brings out the wrinkles and shadows in Batman’s muscles and cowl very well; it almost makes Batman look otherworldly. Albuquerque does well to capture the youth of Bruce Wayne and draws you into the short but powerful scene.
If I were to find any fault in this issue, it’s in the overly dramatic elements. Batman screams as he punches through a window, for instance, and it’s so over the top it’s borderline comical. March tends to draw Batman expressing in big, bombastic ways that can pull you out of the book a bit. For a mastermind detective, he sure is emotional. As with any table setting sort of issue, there are beats in this story that play out for necessary reasons but don’t give the oomph other issues have in the arc.
This is a good issue that leads right into “Joker War” very well. The final page had me getting major ’90s vibes that take me back to when I was a kid. Batman is best when he’s facing insurmountable odds, and boy oh boy Tynion is setting this up to make “Joker War” a summer must-read.