It is a new night in Gotham. In Batman 101, Batman began his plan to redefine Batman and how he executed his mission. The days of unlimited money no longer exist and the spacious anonymity of Wayne manor lies miles away, no longer useable. In Batman 102 Gotham and all her residents begin to rebuild from the Joker’s madness, but in the process a new villain attempts his malicious reformation of Gotham City. The problem for Bruce is this Ghostmaker is a ghost from his past.
Batman 102 – A New Villain Returns
He calls himself Ghostmaker. He hates Gotham and all that it has become. He sees the waste, the crime, the corruption, but unlike Batman he will solve Gotham’s problems with an iron fist. The opening scene of Batman 102 spells this out explicitly. Now we have all seen Batman interrogate criminals in an attempt to wipe out the core of the problem, but compared to Ghostmaker, Batman’s antics come across very Sesame Street in nature. Ghostmaker interrogates people as well, but in this issue, he starts with not only a cop, but a good one.
This scene spells out a couple of things. One, Ghostmaker uses computers in a way that rivals Oracle and Tim Drake. He seems constantly hardwired into a computer source at all times. He operates alone, but with the power of the internet at his beck-and-call, his knowledge is formidable. This comes up again later when he confronts Batman.
The second thing the scene shows us is Ghostmaker has a problem. For some reason the greatest threat to his plan does not come from Batman or the Bat-family, or the GCPD. For some reason the one thing that vexes Ghostmaker more than anything is Clownhunter. For some reason the kid Batman tried to help out instead of shutting down poses a problem, a hole in the system as he calls it. We know so little about Clownhunter. He defies Batman and refuses to be intimidated by him. He continues to hunt the ‘Grinners’ and carries some sort of vendetta against them, but what could a little kid do to cause problems for someone like Ghostmaker?
Batman 102 – Batman Challenged
Batman continues to clean up the aftermath of Joker’s little plot. As he points out to Oracle, by letting some villains exist, the Grinners, Batman always knows where to find their hideouts should he needs answers. He enters the Grinners bar not only to find out Oracle’s computers were fooled, but the entire establishment had been wiped out with bodies strewn everywhere. It only takes one symbol spray painted on the wall for Batman to realize who they dealt with. Anything that can scare Batman cannot be good.
I love the little flashback that follows. We find Bruce as a kid still trying to learn his vigilante skills, but this isn’t the good little Brucie we think we know. Bruce is hot, and angry and mean. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. The problem is he finds himself in competition with an old rival. Bruce never names him, but apparently this teenage version of Ghostmaker did something bad to their shared master in Morocco. We don’t see who wins the fight. Just that Bruce harbors an extreme hatred of the kid.
The interesting thing comes from Batman’s remarks to Ghostmaker. He tells Ghostmaker “We had an agreement. This is my city”. The two met before. We can assume Batman held the upper hand, but that agreement seems to be over. The two square off, and with his own sleek suit and two gorgeously deadly words, Ghostmaker looks like he can stand toe-to-toe with Batman. Batman 103 should be an epic fight to watch.
Batman 102 – The Extras
The set up to the Batman/Ghostmaker fight may drive this issue, but I love the extras writers included, Barbara Gordon lost her Batgirl title, but instead of ‘not existing’ for the foreseeable future, she joins Batman as Oracle once more. I like seeing that the sideline characters in Gotham will still find use in the titles ahead.
Someone else who finds themselves homeless, both in title and literal residence, is Harley Quinn. She played a huge role in the Joker War’s final outcome, and I like her character still finds use. All she does is negotiate for an apartment (in typical Harley form), but just her inclusion in the Batman title means writers will not let Gotham’s newest anti-hero go to waste.
Then lastly we see Clownhunter – briefly. He almost gets plastered by Ghostmaker, but finds salvation when Batman appears, but who is he? We know some of his backstory now, but why does he cause problems for Ghostmaker? Why does this little kid with a baseball bat threaten Ghostmaker’s plans? Could he become the latest Robin? Either way he seems to be around to stay.