SPOILERS FROM HERE ON – BE WARNED!!
Batman 100 – Epilogue 3: The Hooded Man
Even though it looked like it, we know the Joker will never die, and sure enough in epilogue 3 we see a man sitting at a diner bar with a pink and green hoodie and pasty white hands. The best part of this scene comes from finally hearing Joker’s plans. This whole mess was never about taking over Gotham. That simplistic idea belongs to lesser criminals. With Joker there is always more. With Joker the drive comes from mental missions. Do not sack a city. Sack a city so you can break the faith between the people and the heroes. Naturally he needs to kill the person he tells all this to – for the fun of it.
Then of course in this epilogue we watch an even better mind game taking place. Alexis Kaye, aka – Punchline, spins a mea culpa of such beauty and finesse its a work of art. Joker even thinks so, but of course this is Gotham. Punchline is merely spinning her way out of jailtime with this one use “oh I was naughty but now repent” attempt. I love the idea of her trying this as it really adds some depth to the character’s psyche, but of course straight, girls do not get their own comic title – Punchline #1 coming mid-November.
Batman 100 – Joker, the greatest martial artist ever?
Joker does many things better than anyone in all of comics, but fighting is not one of them. Batman can stand with nearly any fighter in comics, but not Joker. So why does Batman not only get the crap kicked out of him, but appear to lose the fight even after Joker sheds his Bat-armor?
First off it broke my focus a little bit. There is NO WAY someone gets stabbed that often in the places Joker stabbed him and not only lives but keeps fighting. Set that aside it made for a cool fight, but why doesn’t Batman just put Joker down? First there was the reanimated Alfred. Of course Batsy will worry about the corpse, but more than anything it goes back to the mind games being so expertly played by both sides. For Batman it came down to stalling, waiting for the rest of the team to show up. I loved the way the writers set all this up, but then the ‘team’ does arrive and HOLY FRAK BATMAN!!!!
Batman 100 – I Called It!
In Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring there is a scene where Gandalf tells Frodo he feels Gollum has some part yet to play in the journey of the ring. With the way Batman left her standing in the street, I knew her return would come, but not in this fashion!
Joker prepares to deliver the final, lethal blow to Batman. You know it won’t come. The team will show up or something, but I never expected to see Joker’s head fly back as a bullet rips through his eye. When the drop below the BLAM! panel, who stands there, hero of the day? HARLEY FRAKKING QUINN!!! Her title may have ended, but the various Bat-titles have done an amazing job incorporating her into the narrative, and here her role could not be more crucial.
In these last pages we truly see the conflict inside Harley. She wants to join the good side, but there is still so much pain inside. Like Clownkiller, Harley wants Mr J DEAD! Instead of flat out killing him like she wants she makes it a test of Batman. He will choose the future of Gotham when he saves either Joker or herself. She thinks she played it perfectly. Batman will choose her and Joker will finally die, or if he chooses Joker, her part in this tale will finally end.
Once again the writers do an amazing job stoking every last ounce of character out of these scenes. Harley thinks she played it perfect, but this is Batman – World’s Greatest Detective. Batman knows Joker can save himself with the tools pick-pocketed from the Bat-suit. Joker will choose life because his death would settle nothing at this point, so Batsy knows he can save Harley. (Then you gotta love Joker yelling at his own insane creation to shut up).
Batman 100 – Aftermath’s beginnings
I really love how the very first shot, post Joker War, is of Batman standing in Harley’s hospital room, a whole week after the fact, as she wakes up. While she may be sad when Batman tells her Joker lives, Harley makes the perfect foil to talk with about the future of Gotham. Keep in mind Batman never believed in Harley.
When others began to see her true change in nature, all Batman could see was evil, manipulative Harley. In this closing scene it feels like true peace settles between the two. Harley expresses her pride in Batman, and Batman bears his sole to her. For Bruce trust like this comes rarely if at all. It means he truly accepts the new Harley going forward.
Batman confesses to Harley he will become a better Batman for the city. To me this feels as epic a moment of change as Bruce’s stepping out of the shadows post Knight’s End series. I think in many ways this may even be the final undoing of that step to darkness. Will Bruce finally don the tomorrow-suit Joker wore? What will he be like; What will Gotham be like going forward?
Batman 100 – Wrap Up
Like I said, writers did such an amazing job packing this issue with action, character development, and meaning, this issue really needs to be read by anyone who loves Batman. As much as I covered I left so much out, and honestly, as I finish this, I seriously ponder adding Batman to my weekly pull list to see what the future holds for Batman, the Bat-family, and Gotham.