“The Joker War” has taken over Batman comics and Detective Comics #1025 is in full tie-in swing this week. Batwoman takes over as the main character as Gotham is completely controlled by Joker and his goons. Kenneth Rocafort and Peter J. Tomasi take us on an adventure that’s basically a war comic as Joker attacks from both land and sky.
This is without a doubt a fight comic with a little bit of character thrown in to mix things up. Characters like Batwoman, Detective Bullock, Lucious Fox, and Batman himself all play a part in the narrative, but get very little time to show off their personalities. Fans of Batwoman will enjoy how Tomasi uses Batwoman, who is her own boss even when Batman tries to tell her what to do. That dynamic is interesting, although it is barely explored thanks to the nonstop action.
The book opens like a World War II dogfight. Batwoman is trying to stop some Joker thugs in a cemetery from killing a whole lot of cops. This soon evolves into an attack by air with newly branded Joker jets that were once Batplanes. From there, Batman and Batwoman take the fight to the Joker army, who are manufacturing guns and need to be stopped. Enter the Bat-tank, complete with a Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns homage. Stuff happens in between the beats I’ve just laid out, but know that all this chaotic action is about as complex as it gets.
The art by Rocafort and colors by Dan Brown are highly stylized with attention to layouts and gutters. There’s a level of detailing in faces that gives Rocafort’s style a ’90s feel and that goes for details in costumes as well. I could linger on Batwoman’s mask all day since Rocafort and Brown make it look so pretty. It’s also nice to see DC Comics take this book very seriously with a higher tiered artist to follow up the excellent run Brad Walker just finished with Detective Comics #1024. A lot of the pizazz of this book revolves around gizmos and vehicles that are splendidly rendered. Tanks, motorcycles, and Joker-planes all look great.
The use of Batman is a bit odd and offputting in this issue. He shows up at an opportune time, strangely gets beaten quite quickly, which doesn’t seem becoming of the character, and does the team-up thing with Batwoman long enough for it to make a dent in the bigger “Joker War” storyline, yet it’s a blip. It’s likely due to how events are tricky to pull off, but there’s no context as to whether or not it did anything or how it will affect the main story. How Batman shows up in this book and others isn’t explained, either. I almost wondered if Batman was a stand-in since this mission doesn’t seem high priority when you consider the main Batman book. It suffers from the event as it’s a forced encounter that’s fun enough, but is untethered from the event or its own story to matter.
This is a fun issue if you like all-out battles and cool looking vehicles. Batwoman is badass too, but it doesn’t read like “Joker War” must-read comics either. I had fun reading it though, and likely most will too.