Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jiminez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Jorge Jiminez continues to put on a masterclass with his work on Batman. His character designs are sharp and modern, yet retain classic qualities associated with the earliest ages of American comics. Colorist Tomeu Morey provides the perfect complement: in the opening pages of #129, Aquaman’s powerful face and flowing gold hair are as vibrant as a Saturday morning cartoon, but his costume is carefully textured in a more vintage style.
Together with letterer extraordinaire Clayton Cowles, the art team is making Batman one of the best looking reads of the year. Unfortunately, the writing has not been as up to task.
Chip Zdarsky’s Failsafe program has been too convenient an antagonist for several issues running. The premise is that this all-knowing, invulnerable robo-Bat springs into action if Bruce ever willingly takes a life (except, he didn’t). Failsafe easily lays waste to Batman and all his powerful friends. What does this uber-Batman machine not do? Fight crime, for some reason, allowing Gotham to once again slide into an era of unbridled corruption and violence. It’s a familiar trope for the city, and not worth Failsafe’s enduring plot armor.
And yet, the convenience and familiarity of Zdarsky’s story would be more palatable if it resulted in a good old-fashioned Bat book. But it doesn’t. As I watched Aquaman command the forces of Atlantis to defend Batman while he storms off to war against a cybernetic despot, I wondered if Chip taking on Batman and Daredevil at once wasn’t a mistake. I know there are many sides to Batman, but this run increasingly reads more like a Justice League story. Hell, “78 percent” of metas have been defeated or captured by Failsafe. The stakes feel too high, too fast, as if Chip got the street-level fare out of his system with the Devil and jumped straight to an endgame boss for the Bat.
That said, it’s possible Zdarsky is setting the tracks for a more classic Bat saga. If Failsafe is quickly dealt with in #130, Bruce will be left with a broken city to defend and a punch of superheroes questioning what the hell he was thinking with the Failsafe program. These are the ingredients for a more relatable Batman. So, sorry Bruce, but here’s hoping the Bat hits rock bottom, is ostracized from Gotham and his super pals, and must start his crusade from scratch.
- Fantastic art team.
- We've seen every corner of the Bat universe.
- Failsafe is an uninspiring villain.
- Stakes feel too high, too fast.