Batman (2016) #100
Writers: James Tynion IV
Artists: Jorge Jimenez, Guillem March, Carlo Pagulayan,
Tomeu Morey, and Danny Miki
There are few truly landmark moments in modern comics, contrary to the absurd amount of solicits that read “and the universe will never be the same.” But while companies may push new events and crossovers, nothing beats raw numbers. We live in a world where most titles drop before their second trade paperback. So when a series survives until issue twelve, let alone issue one-hundred, it’s cause for celebration. Batman #100 is a landmark. And as long as Tynion doesn’t pull a bait and switch with two-hundred variant covers (I’m looking at you Batman #50), it can’t be that bad. Right?
Wrong! Batman #100 is offensively inoffensive. If someone handed out awards for books that play things safe, Batman #100 would earn ten first-place medals, an all-expenses-paid trip to wherever it wants to go, and a lifetime supply of solid-gold helicopters. Now those are some fighting words. But in all honestly, Batman #100 is a decent comic book. It’s easy to consume a portion of Batman content. It’s a great companion to a warm cup of tea and a cozy afternoon. But this is Batman #100 we’re talking about! I don’t want tea, I want the climax of the century and explosive batarangs.
Let me say this: I agree with all of Tynion’s decisions and directions for the Batman book. I love Batman recovering from Alfred’s death to be a better hero. I love Joker getting a new girlfriend. I love the return of Nightwing and the Bat-Family. The problem isn’t Tynion’s direction for characters, it’s that he doesn’t know how to get them there. Bruce wants to be better because of “reasons”. Joker suddenly cares about Gotham City. Nightwing exists for a couple of panels. Tynion plants the characters in interesting directions without telling the story of how they got there.
Perhaps the best example of this problem in Joker War is its conclusion. Towards the end of the issue, Batman mentions something along the lines of, “the city changed so much.” But no, it didn’t. I love the idea of Gotham city changing after a massive attack. But the murderous clowns and daily explosions here are par for the course in Gotham City. I can’t believe how simple Joker’s plan was. He stole Bruce Wayne’s billions of dollars and spent it on goons and C4. His midnight release at the Monarch Theater was the only interesting part of his plan, and he doesn’t even go through with it. For a story that apparently “changed the city so much”, I can’t think of anything more generic.
But credit where credit is due, Jorge Jimenez absolutely destroyed the art in this issue. This is what peak performance from an A-tier artist looks like. Jimenez excels in an action-focused issue like this. His bullets fly. His punches connect. This is how characters in a comic book should move. In addition to Jimenez, Tomeu Morey also brings his A-game with some beautiful colors. He knows how to brighten up a Bat-Family fight and how to tone down a personal battle between Batman and Joker. Jimenez and Morey contribute just as much to the style of this book as Tynion does.
Batman #100 is fine. But I don’t want Batman #100 to be fine. Batman #42 or Batman #67, sure those can be fine, but this is Batman #100. The conclusion to Joker War isn’t bad, it’s just disappointing. If you made an A.I. read seventy-five years of Batman content and then write a story based on what it learned, it would probably write something pretty close to Batman #100. Have you seen Batman fight the Joker? Have watched the Bat-Family punch goons? If so, then you’ve probably already seen everything that Batman #100 has to offer.
Batman #100 is a good Batman story. But this is issue #100, I'd rather a great Batman story.