Batman #105 wraps up its latest story arc “Ghost Stories” with its fourth part before we head into DC Future State country and things are heating up for Clownhunter, Batman, and Harley Quinn. James Tynion IV has written these characters into a corner and it may require blood for them to escape. This story arc has explored previously unknown moments between Ghost-Maker and Batman when they were training to be some of the best heroes in the world. In this final test, Ghost-Maker is hoping Batman sees the truth in killing to achieve your goals.
This issue utilizes three artists and each one flows into one another nicely. Christian Duce, Alvaro Martinez, Christian Duce, Danny Mikki, and Carlo Pagulayan focus our attention on a flashback to start the issue and then stick with the main scene with Batman, Harley Quinn, and Clownhunter kidnapped in a room in Arkham Asylum. The art manages to move from flashback to the main scene, switching artists at one point in a less jarring way than in previous chapters. The opening flashback, cast in heavy rain on a plane tarmac, sets a darker tone for the book as Bruce and Ghost-Maker confront one another. From there, the art utilizes a clean style that allows for some pretty extreme closeups on Harley, and some rather tense moments as Clownhunter contemplates killing Harley. Plus we get to see Batman shirtless, so that’s cool.
Colors by David Baron enhance this scene with sickly greens, conveying the dank and uncomfortable nature of Arkham, but also the situation these characters are in. The opening utilizes blues well to capture the rain effect. Meanwhile, Harley is the brightest thing in the room, as if to convey her turn from bad guy to good adding to her hopeful nature.
As far as the story, Tynion continues to remove layers of the Ghost-Maker onion, making for an intriguing dynamic you’ll want more of. It’s quite clear by issue’s end that we’ll get more of the character, further making it difficult to swallow we won’t get another Batman comic from Tynion till March. Through Ghost-Maker Tynion is exploring a different side of Batman, which is tied to the youthful version of Bruce who was still learning. Batman is still certain in all things he does and prepares for everything, but knowing who the man was helps humanize him.
Customary of 20-page comics this book wraps up a little too quickly. There’s a decision made between Ghost-Maker and Batman that certainly makes sense from a story point of view, but isn’t quite earned. This story arc could have used another issue to sort out the relationship between Batman and Ghost-Maker in the present. There is heavy work done to show they have had a bond for years prior to Bruce becoming Batman, but it doesn’t sit right that Ghost-Maker went from kidnapping and toying with Batman to how things end up here.
As far as Batman comics go, James Tynion IV has added so many new ideas in such a short span we should all be grateful for what he’s accomplished. The number of new characters he’s added only enriches the Batman property and Batman #105 continues that trend. As Steve Orlando pointed out on the AIPT Comics podcast, James Tynion IV’s Batman run is clearly one of the best series of the year.
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