My one complaint with the Joker War story line comes from its depth. So many stories run in and out of the arc that are not covered, it feels like writers could have told so much more. With Batman 100, writers filled every panel of the 47 pages with brilliance! I honestly do not know what to say with this issue. It delivers on every single front that I could spend forever on each page. Then comes the fact that as much as I want to talk about every aspect, I do not want to spoil a single moment. You honestly do not need to have read any other issue to read Batman 100. You will get the gist in a hurry and enjoy the action and character development.
For praise for this issue one need go no further than the cover. I honestly expected there to be at least a dozen different covers for this issue, but the preview only showed one. You only need one! On the left is Batman, charging into action with his cape flaring out behind him, and in the cape is every single member of the Bat-family charging in right behind him! The cover is not only incredible but totally appropriate for this issue!
Batman 100 – Putting Their Foot Down
Before we get to the main duo, let’s talk about everyone else first. The very first page of this issue may be a foreshadowing of Batgirl 50. For those who do not know, Batgirl may be accused of killing her psychotic brother by none other than her own father. Batgirl needs to figure out some things fast! This first page shows Barbara in her clocktower. She rips off her Batgirl mask and reboots her computer network, once again submerging herself into the Oracle identity. Does this mean Batgirl is gone and Oracle returns for good?
There are some great panels showing the fights the whole Bat-team are engaged in. Oracle begins to hack into earpieces and coordinates everyone’s movements through the city. The scenes are not much, but they really set up the feel for what is taking place throughout Gotham. To see Barbara leading and engineering the fight to take back Gotham makes a great story for her character. Even her audio reunion with Nightwing felt like old times.
Then you have the GCPD under the leadership of Commissioner Bullock. That just sounds wrong, but whatever. Again we get a great scene and extraordinary character growth. A flunky of the Mayor’s runs up and tells Harvey to stand down. After a minute of thought and asking WWJD (What Would Jim Do?), Bullock throws down his badge and quits. He then calls out to his fellow officers to either stand down or throw down their shields and fight for their city.
Batman 100 – Vengeance!
If you recall, Ric Grayson became brainwashed and mentally controlled by Punchline and Joker. Well in this issue, Nightwing gets his revenge! Back to his full self, Dick Grayson/Nightwing takes on Punchline in a rematch. This time he kicks the crap out of her. Perhaps one of the best panels in the comic comes when Punchline smiles and says “The odds just changed” as her thugs appear. Nightwing smiles back and says ” Yeah. They sure did.” Right on cue, the entire Bat-family drops in behind Nightwing. The Gotham Royal Rumble is on!
Then in two small panels you cannot forget her. While she plays no part in the fight, Catwoman did her part in returning the Wayne fortune back to him. She watches over the fighting with the simple words – “C’mon now love. Its time to finish this.” For two small panels it really adds a lot of emotion that will hopefully be resolved soon.
Batman 100 – Once More Unto the Breech!
Finally we get to the main two, the title card – Batman and the Joker go toe to toe once more. This time Joker possesses a bit of an equalizer in that he wears Batman’s Suit-of-Tomorrow (for lack of a better title). The fight wages throughout the issue, but as brilliant as it is, the mind game being played between them is even greater.
Through the whole fight, Joker insists what he planned goes well beyond stealing a few toys and blowing up the city. Meanwhile, Batman knows something. His tactics feel off because he basically gets his ass handed to him repeatedly. It feels like he checks his blows every time, but for what we do not discover til later.
Then we have reanimated Alfred. During a few panels it looks as if what Alfred tells Bruce may be weighing down on his psyche and affecting him, but then next Panel Batman forges right through the mind games. Alfred’s final panel is actually kinda funny.
Batman 100 – Just Keep Reading, Just Keep Reading: Epilogue 1
Epilogue 1 only runs for 1 page, but oh what a page it might be! The obvious question becomes where do Batman and Gotham go now? How do both rebuild? We may have to wait for that answer, but we do not need to wait for the next antagonist to come along. In the next few issues an old rival returns in a new form – Ghostmaker!
Who is Ghostmaker? We do not know yet, but in this one page epilogue he speaks as if he knows Bruce – and note he’s watching Batman and says ‘Bruce’. Gotham’s newest vigilante will have a few bones to pick with Mr Wayne. Not to mention the outfit looks killer! His suit is contradicting in dark and light colors, and he wields dual Katanas. The war never ends.
Batman 100 – Just Keep Reading, Just Keep Reading: Epilogue 2
And at last we have our second and final epilogue (told you this issue was long), but this one was much needed. For the length of the series now we have followed a new vigilante named Clownkiller. Last issue we finally saw the ‘kid’s’ face, but we still know next to nothing about him, until now.
Batman of course knows everything and one day when this kid returns to his apartment, Batman waits for him. It’s funny the kid tries to go toe-to-toe with the wolrd’s greatest detective, but his arrogance blinds him. Batman correctly calls out Bao Pham, but Bao incorrectly names Batman as Dirk Wingleton (feel a Frozen joke coming on). Bao dons his mask since Bruce is in his, and then lays out his sad tale. His parents were killed by Joker, but what follows adds some nice layers to this character. Bao uses the tragedy to stop believing in Batman and blame him for their deaths. After all if Batman had killed Joker, the deaths would have stopped.
Then this next part gets interesting. Batman, who would normally scare the kid straight, hands him a card. On the card is the name of a dear friend – Dr. Leslie Thompkins. What kind of Batman will we see going forward? A new one to be sure.
Bao finds comfort in the idea, but naturally swears to use it AFTER he’s done seeking revenge. Look for Clownkiller to continue to stalk the streets of Gotham.
Batman 100 – A Whole New Future
This issue does an amazing job drawing in all the loose threads from throughout the Bat-world and using them, although sparingly, in a satisfactory way. If you are a Batman fan at all this is a MUST READ! Not only does it end the Joker War, but it lays out so many threads and possibilities for nearly everyone in Gotham. The future will be intriguing to say the least.