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'Batman' #139 continues to remix familiar elements
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‘Batman’ #139 continues to remix familiar elements

Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, Joker, and Vandal Savage all get prime time in ‘Batman’ #139.

What do Three Jokers and Batman of Zur-En-Arrh have in common? They’re both major factors in Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez’s new story arc launching today with Batman #139. If you’ve been paying attention to Zdarsky’s run, you’ll note there are familiar themes he’s putting new and exciting spins on, and based on this first issue, there’s quite a cool concept he’s unveiling here.

This issue opens with a homicide, which is how many Batman comics start. This short two-page scene is a reminder Batman is frightening even to those he saves. Or maybe he’s even more frightening due to the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh hanging inside his mind and pushing him to be more violent than ever.

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It’s a nice lead-in followed by Bruce tinkering on things in an apartment with captions that reveal he’s now completely alone, largely due to Batman of Zur-En-Arrh’s influence. Clearly, Zdarsky is breaking down the character and it’s compelling to see him strip things away to further explore new depths of the character.

Batman’s main focus in this issue is finding Joker, who has somehow escaped his grasp of late. He’s in Gotham for sure, but which one, and what’s he up to now? A lot of this issue plays out slowly as Batman investigates crimes and comes closer to getting face-to-face with Joker. Along the way, Zdarsky reminds us of past acts between the two–largely deaths–setting up the persona of Joker well. This is not a silly, carefree Joker, but one that wants to let the violent Batman out to play.

'Batman' #139 continues to remix the familiar making them new

How cool is that lamp shot?
Credit: DC Comics

There’s action to be had in this issue, and I may never look at a baby doll the same again. Jimenez does a fabulous job, as always, especially in making the wooden figures of Batman’s family look creepy. There are multiple instances of dark and brooding Batman that are visionary, like Batman of Zur-En-Arrh appearing in the light of a lamp or the breakdown of a crime scene with many parts. Jimenez is known for highly detailed work with big splashy fan-favorite moments, but he doesn’t get enough credit for doing interesting things with the tiniest panels. That includes how Jimenez is so very good at drawing Batman’s eyes, giving them so much emotion, yet they’re stark white.

The backup is also excellent, especially if you read “Gotham War” and want to know more about Vandal Savage. Written by Zdarsky with art by Jorge Corona, we get to see where he left off after seemingly dying. Long story short, his new role in Gotham is tantalizing, especially since he owns Bruce’s old mansion. Under Zdarsky, the Batman backups are all important and factor into ongoing and future stories. Where he’s put Vandal is quite enticing as it could mean a rival vigilante hero or worse.

My only gripe with the main story is that it plods along a bit too much. We’re stuck in Batman’s head, and he’s left to his own devices, much of it brooding and seemingly confused about who he is deep down. There are key clues in the crime scene, but it also feels a touch long.

If you’ve been enjoying the ongoing story involving Batman of Zur-En-Arrh then you’ll need to get this new issue. Zdarsky has proven he’s doing some compelling work with legacy elements of Batman making them fresh while building new stories from them. This issue proves Zdarsky’s run is on track to be added to the list of Batman’s best stories.

'Batman' #139 continues to remix familiar elements
‘Batman’ #139 continues to remix familiar elements
Batman #139
If you've been enjoying the ongoing story involving Batman of Zur-En-Arrh then you'll need to get this new issue. Zdarsky has proven he's doing some compelling work with legacy elements of Batman making them fresh while building new stories from them. This issue proves Zdarsky's run is on track to be added to the list of Batman's best stories.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Compelling visual ideas at work along with Jimenez's always amazing detail
Mixes in the influence of Batman of Zur-En-Arrh well
Backup sets up a fantastic take on Vandal Savage
Feels a bit obtuse as it plods slowly at times
9
Great
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