Writers: James Tynion IV
Artists: Carlos D’Anda, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki & David Baron
Batman must always be exhausted. He jumps from roof to roof, battling countless villains that beat him to a near pulp. But luckily, Batman is a fictional character. So when it only takes him two issues to recover from spinal paralysis, I can buy into it. There’s no actual harm done to Batman considering his body is made up of newspaper and ink. However, Batman #102 not only makes Batman feel exhausted, it makes me feel exhausted.
Tynion just wrapped up Joker War in Batman #100. The story was a battle for “the soul of Gotham City”. It was an incredibly climactic event. This is why I don’t understand why Batman has to fight Ghostmaker for “the soul of Gotham City” in Batman #102. Not only does the concept of the story fling us right back into the action, but the pacing also does as well. Tynion’s new character Ghostmaker had absolutely no build-up. In this debut issue, Ghostmaker finds Batman as soon as possible and starts throwing punches. I think that this is generally a fun way to debut a character. Instead of some giant mystery like Hush or the Court of Owls, Ghostmaker comes in swinging. However, I don’t think it works right after a giant event. I think we need a few more issues to breathe before “Gotham’s soul” is back on the chopping block.
Even though this issue gave me a good bit of whiplash for tossing us back into Tynion’s nonstop climax, I did enjoy the core of the story. For a story about Ghostmaker, this issue focuses heavily on Clowhunter. And although the idea of a pre-teen gunning down criminals is pretty far-fetched, I think there is some interesting space to explore with the character. For me, this mostly comes down to how Bruce chooses to deal with his crime spree. Instead of just fracturing his jawbone and shipping him off to GCPD, he actually tries to reason with and rehabilitate him. I’m really looking forward to seeing this plot development in the future.
Ghostmaker on the other hand doesn’t offer much new to the Gotham gallery of rogues. The issue sets Ghostmaker up as one of Bruce’s former rivals during his training years. After countless others with this same backstory including Nobody and Karma, this feels uninspired. I think Tynion is just checking off his Batman trope list at this point. A hush-like mystery story, check. Big Joker story, check. The new villain from Batman’s past, check. And it doesn’t help that Ghostmaker’s first appearance features a bland monologue about, you guessed it, “the soul of Gotham City”. I’d like Batman and his villains to finally realize Gotham is a hellhole and move on.
While I do like some of the ideas here, Batman #102 isn’t doing anything new or exciting. And actually, it’s doing exactly what the last story just did two issues ago. I could definitely use some more time to get adjusted after Joker War, but Ghostmaker is here now. So let’s see what happens.
Batman (2016-) #102
Batman #102 throws the audience right back into the action, but perhaps a little too quickly.