There’s never a shortage of Batman books being put out by DC. These past few months have proved no exception, as the line-sprawling Fear State event took over. The latest citywide siege event led by Scarecrow and the Magistrate threatened to push the city over the edge into madness. This event met mixed reception across its run, but now all that is behind us. We’ve got a new creative team, new vision, and a return to form for the main Bat-title.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Batman #118!
We pick up immediately after Fear State‘s conclusion with Gotham celebrating its heroes and surviving another city-wide threat. There are fireworks and parties galore, but there’s no celebrating for the Dark Knight. We follow him on a nightly patrol as he strikes fear into the hearts of lowly thieves and prevents a hostage situation. This simple setup is exactly what the title needs coming off a huge event. A return to Batman protecting his city from the “superstitious and cowardly lot” is far from the most original plots, but works here as a perfect way to segue into this new arc.
One of the best sequences here has Batman infiltrate a villain themed costume party. This pits Batman against mercenaries dressed as his entire rogues gallery. What follows is a classic beat down as Batman tears through his “rogues” with ease. The visuals here are crisp, the punches hit hard, and it has fun with itself. This gives way to a badass moment where Batman’s disguise is burnt off in the middle of the fight and just his mere presence changes the whole atmosphere of the battle. The colors here work especially well as the flames carve Batman out of the shadows.
The visuals here are provided by Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin. I knew Molina was the main artist going into the book, but was surprised to see Janin’s name attached on the end credits. Looking back I could definitely tell where one style began and ended, but their styles blended so nicely and the switch between them so fluid it was almost unnoticeable. The costume party sequence in particular is beautifully laid out, and there’s no shortage of cool shots of Batman being a presence to be reckoned with.
The issue’s final sequence sets up the new threat of Abyss and brings in the remnants of Batman Inc. It’s nice to see Williamson pulling on this plot thread that just seems to hang there until someone brave enough reminds us of its existence, and meshes well with his respect for where Batman is at currently. There’s a lot of ‘housekeeping’ work done in this issue that paves way for the story that Williamson wants to tell while also trying to tie in all of Batman’s concurrent stories such as in Detective Comics or Justice League.
This issue very much feels like a return to form for the main Bat-title. It keeps its focus on Batman, gives us some classic action beats, and sets up the next direction. For me, this serves as a promising jumping on point. It’s direct, engaging, and recaptures what a Batman title should be.
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