This week the latest in the Joker War series drops with part four of the story. Where issue 96 may have felt a bit weak, every week since has been a major step up and this week things really explode into action. Batman 98 delivers on so many accounts, issue 99 cannot get here fast enough! Amazing who can achieve great revelations when they come on the end of a fist.
Batman 98: Batman Broken
Backing up to Batman 97, Batman is down! The new Joker toxin in his system immobilized him both physically and mentally. If not for the aid of Gotham’s newest anti-hero, Harley Quinn, Batman may have fallen for the last time, but she brought him to the lair of Poison Ivy to overcome the toxins, but all she can do is wait.
However in this state Batman’s brain conjures up the one person that can truly help Bruce recover – ALFRED! This issue really brings together everything going on in Bruce’s life. He lost his closest friend in Alfred. He lost his shot at marriage to Selina, and now the Joker not only possesses his fortune, toys and property but is destroying the city with them. Bruce’s spirit and self rests in more pieces than anyone realizes.
The true heart of this issue is the back and forth between Batman and Bruce’s mind creation of Alfred. Alfred tried to revive Bruce’s spirit and remind him who he truly is. Joker embodies death while The Batman embodies life. in pushing away his family he falls into the Joker’s trap. Batman guards life, but he also protects family, a family Bruce pushed away.
Batman 98: To the Rescue
I absolutely love the use of Harley in this story. Not only does she serve a vital role, but she gets to be true Harley at same time. While Bruce struggles with his mental issues, Harley gets to stretch her muscles in a rematch with Punchline! Not only does the fight turn brutal, but the back and forth between Harley and Punchline really develops their stories with Joker as the foil.
Each tries to explain why their’s is the true view of the Joker and why they supported him. Of course the fists win out in an awesome battle over several pages. Punchline then decides she needs to prove her point once and for all. How does she try to do it? By killing Batsy of course! Needless to say, Harley won’t let that happen, but the final word is not her’s. I’ll leave the conclusion of the fight for you to read. It is EPIC!
Oh, did I mention Selina Kyle is in this issue as well? her and Bruce may not have tied the knot, but he will always be her Dark Knight. Surrounded by a who’s who of Batman’s enemies, she laments the absence of Batman while Gotham burns, but Selina does not quit. Selena develops a plan and recruits those around her. Watch out Joker – the CAT joins the fight!