Batman and his amazing friends are in a lot of trouble. Like, so much trouble! Superman has been called in, and he might not be enough. Batman is facing off against his greatest foe, himself, and it’s in the form of a robot that has thought of every contingency. The hyper-paranoid Batman has thought of everything in making this robot so that if he ever turned, it could stop him. But Superman has shown up, so he’s likely gonna be okay. Right?
If Batman #128 is any indication, maybe not! Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez do not stop pushing Batman and, in this issue, the Justice League as they fight Failsafe. In a kind of nightmare only Batman can cook up: it appears only he can stop Failsafe, and yet only Failsafe can stop Batman. The creators have done the near impossible here and created a situation that seems unlikely Batman can get out of. That makes for an exciting issue that speeds along, showing how dire the stakes are getting.
Batman #128 opens with Superman facing off against Failsafe. It’s where we left off, only the last issue ended in a way that made us think Superman had this in the bag. Quickly, we learn that is not the case. Heroes like Green Arrow and Black Canary show up to slow down Failsafe, giving Batman time to escape. All the while, Zdarsky has got us inside Batman’s head through captions as he can’t stop thinking about how he can’t give up despite how broken his body is. He can’t lose his friends, and Earth certainly can’t lose Superman.
It’s bold this is an in-canon story, especially with how it jumps forward in time. That element, along with Batman of Zur-En-Arrh showing up, does make one question if any of this is actually happening. Either way, it’s an exciting dose of action.
Jimenez plays with so many toys in this issue, including plenty of characters, exciting location changes, and incredible Gotham scenes. The play of light by Tomeu Morey continues to impress, heightening Jimenez’s art into something that deserves to be on the big screen. The emotions on these characters’ faces is where the real drama lies. Be it Bruce stretching in pain, Black Canary’s eyes shouting help, or Superman looking intense, knowing he has seconds to save Bruce. Speaking of Superman, there’s a rather touching bird’s-eye view of Batman, body broken, clutching to touch Superman to see if he’s okay. The subtle details of Batman’s hand pulling at Superman’s cape is touching.
The backup by Zdarsky and Leonardo Romero continues to explore Batman of Zur-En-Arrh in exciting ways. One could conclude the cliffhanger may suggest other forms of this crazy idea. The fact that the backup is devoted to Batman of Zur-En-Arrh makes one ponder how it’ll play into the main story. Romero delivers some rather iconic-looking poses of Batman with great plays of light and shadow. Colors by Jordie Bellaire enhance the volume and depth of elements in the panels. There’s an old-school feel to Robin, Batman, and Alfred that feels straight out of an Adam West episode.
If you’re looking for high stakes, action, and a sense that Batman’s goose is cooked, there’s nothing else like Batman #128. The creators have thoroughly put him in a corner, and it’s exciting to know you can still feel surprised by yourself, after countless times, Batman has had no chance of escape, to honestly believe there’s no way he can escape death. Zdarsky and Jimenez’s Batman is a magic trick you’ll be on the edge of your seat reading every page of the way.
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