Batman #95 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Jorge Jimenez, Artist; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Joker War has been building for a while, but now that it’s here, we can see exactly what all the hype was about. This is the biggest-scale Joker story since Endgame by Snyder and Capullo, but it has a completely different vibe. While that one was Joker by way of Pennywise, this is a high-octane action thriller that feels more like Die Hard with a horror twist. Joker knows Batman’s identity, and has seized control of the Wayne empire and is using its extensive fortune to destroy Bruce’s legacy. For the first time, we see what Gotham looks like as it slips under Joker’s control—even the GCPD is being ordered to stand down thanks to the legal machinations of Joker’s lawyer Harlan Graves, better known as the sinister Underbroker. And the opening segment, a flashback to Joker’s first crime spree, drives home why Batman is unprepared for this war—he doesn’t have Alfred, the anchor who kept him sane as he battled Joker’s madness.
This issue moves very fast, as Joker and his minions take down one location after another. Punchline is at her creepy best, with a terrifying new innovation: Joker toxin acupuncture, which allows her to slowly drive someone insane without the instant-kill caused by an overload of toxin. Punchline continues to be a deeply creepy sadist with no redeeming qualities, making her a great contrast to Harley. Batman is kept on his heels for the entire issue with no backup, but the best scenes of the issue come as Joker makes a move on the place closest to Bruce’s trauma: the movie theater where he spent his last night with his parents. The scenes in the decrepit old theater with an elderly caretaker are the issue’s creepiest, and build to a terrifying crescendo. This is an explosive kickoff with a great cliffhanger. We’ll see how the tie-ins do, but Tynion has done an excellent job of making this feel like an event.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.