Batman Struggles Against Joker’s Millions
The Joker War is in full swing, and Batman is in dire straits. With Joker having the money and power to control Gotham, Bruce struggles to evade the clowns. He works his way to Wayne Tower, hoping for access to some of his technology. When he breaks in, he finds Punchline waiting for him. She reveals that she had poisoned Lucius Fox with Joker Toxin, and after a brief fight, she did the same to Batman. As he attempts to escape, Batman comes face to face with a Joker-themed Batwing, which fires upon. How will Batman overcome the odds stacked against him?
**Some Spoilers Below**
We open years from the present, where an older Batman is able to keep peace in Gotham. After taking down Mr. Freeze and his sons, he returns to the cave where Alfred greets him. They go back and forth, but before they leave the cave, Alfred snaps his own neck. It turns out this is a nightmare he was having over the past three days. After the explosion at Wayne Tower, Harley found an unconscious Batman, leaving clowns to run the streets. She explains that Joker and Punchline have created a new Joker Toxin that has to work through his system.
I’m not sure whether or not Tynion IV meant to turn this story into a horror story, but it proves very effective. The horrible scenes of the clowns invading and dream sequences send shivers down my spine. It also was able to accomplish something I’ve actually been enjoying this dive into Bruce’s psyche post-Alfred. The idea of the snapped-neck Alfred has begun to spread through his mind, even imagining his parents with them. While I had my own issues with Tom King’s run, I did like the potential of this plotline and love how Tynion IV is putting it in the center of the character development for Bruce.
The only real downside is that this story definitely had some pacing issues. This is mostly due to the fact most of the action in this story was told through flashbacks. When comics follow this sort of story-telling, we end up with not accomplishing month. If we cut out the flashbacks and dream sequences, that would be half of the comic. Now obviously, this will be smoothed out as we keep moving forward in the comic, but as it stands, it’s offputting.
Jorge Jimenez is the artist for the Batman issues of Joker War, and his style definitely fits. As I mentioned before, this story is played like a horror movie, and his style matches it. With his illustrations, we get teased into this brighter story, only to be shaken by the dark world we actually are in. While the snapped necks and Joker grins are terrifying, they don’t compare to a terrifying callback to The Dark Knight Movies. Tomeu Morey brings these pages to the next level with excellent creepy colorwork. It’s just a perfect look for a disturbing story in Gotham.
Overall, it’s a decent chapter in the Joker War saga. With creepy imagery and the ominous foreshadowing of the Joker’s plan, it gets this reviewer excited. This war is clearly going to change things up for Batman, as the nightmares are getting worse. The biggest issue is just the slight pacing issues from the flashbacks and dream sequences. Even then, it doesn’t detract from the overall story. The art team provides an iconic look for this arc and will be talked about for years to come. It might not have been as strong as the opening or the build-up, but this helps flesh out the Joker War fantastically.