Batman is having a really bad time, thanks to his paranoia and insistence on having a backup plan for everything. That includes a backup plan for when he might break bad, but when the backup plan nearly kills him and his friends and turns Gotham into a police state, maybe he needs to lighten up. But not just yet, it seems. As we see in Batman #129, he’s still trying to keep himself alive against a robot created to defeat him called Failsafe.
Picking up relatively where we left off, Failsafe has turned Gotham into a hellish nightmare to lure Batman back. He narrowly escaped Failsafe’s grasp last issue thanks to the Justice League, but now fully healed, Batman must fight – not only to save Gotham, but because other heroes are getting captured or defeated when they attempt to stop Failsafe. That’s right, Failsafe is so perfectly programmed he can’t be defeated by any hero. And while there’s no clue where Superman is in this issue, Batman is in Atlantis and knows he has to leave as soon as possible.
With Batman on the run, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Jorge Jiménez make this issue feel like a race against time. Batman attempts to stay ahead of Failsafe and defeat him, but we know it’s programmed so well there’s little hope. Sure, it’s a bit convenient Failsafe didn’t realize Batman would be in Atlantis until he was healed, but this is superhero comics, after all. Much of your drive reading this is figuring out what Batman will do next. Given Failsafe can kill Batman with a squeeze of his hand, it’s unlikely he’ll be caught, but it’s a wild ride to witness.
One reason why it’s so entertaining is that Batman is trying out last-gasp efforts to stay ahead. Zdarsky and Jiménez are willing to destroy entire locations or worse since Batman is genuinely out of options. Seeing as Batman is the ultimate planner, its a great matchup and fun to read. It lacks depth, unfortunately, but as an action-first superhero comic, it does its job.
Jiménez’s art continues to look great, with a grittier feel that suits the repeated last-ditch efforts by Batman. Framing and visual effects are on point when necessary, like when we see Nightwing in the foreground in a glass tube with the glass tinted purple as we see Failsafe looking at him. Dramatic posing is always on point, and Tomeu Morey’s colors lean into the deathly reds in Failsafe’s home base, and the calming blues and greens of Atlantis. When Failsafe reaches the moon, the lack of atmosphere is apparent thanks to tiny touches like a touch of dust kicked up by Failsafe’s feet. There are a lot of small details like that permeating the issue.
The backup by Zdarsky and Leonardo Romero continues to entice from a psychological perspective. If the main story is mostly action and racing around, this story is more about Bruce’s internal struggle to hold off Batman of Zur-En-Arrh from taking over. The concept of Joker trying to get his laugh back is also a fun one, as Batman races to stop him from killing scientists who have no answers for Joker. The backup plays out just enough of Batman’s internal struggle, leaving us on a major cliffhanger that will be exciting to see. Can Batman stop himself from killing even when he’s not himself?
Backup artist Leonardo Romero is bringing a whole lot of classic vibes to the rendering in a clean style. His play with shadows is particularly good, and the framing and close-up angles put you inside these characters’ heads. Jordie Bellaire’s colors also add a nice bright touch that feels different from the main story.
Batman #129 continues to be an exciting race of action and tense moments. Zdarsky and Jiménez are putting Batman through the paces, and it’s fun to see the hero fighting against his own creation. If no one can plan better than Batman, isn’t his the ultimate foe himself? We continue to find out the answer might be yes.
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