Batman #103 – James Tynion IV, Carlos Pagulayan/Danny Miki, Guillem March, Artists; Tomeu Morey, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Since this run began, James Tynion IV has been asking some hard questions about Batman’s role in Gotham. That includes introducing rival vigilantes with very different ideas about how to stop crime in the city. First, there was Clownhunter, whose vigilantism is more of a primal scream of rage against a city out of control. Now comes Ghost-Maker, who is the opposite—a dispassionate sociopath who views crime as a cancer to be excised with harsh treatments, no matter how many people it hurts. His opening monologue to Bruce when they were young men drives it home—this is a man whose view of heroism is devoid of any humanity. Despite this, he paints himself as the ace—making his entry into Gotham by apparently taking on several different problems that Batman supposedly ignored due to them not being flashy enough or linked to costumed crime. I wasn’t sure if this matched up with Batman’s MO, but it’s a dramatic opening.
Of course, Ghost-Maker’s main target is Clownhunter, who Bruce is determined to protect. I’m amused that Batman went from “Don’t make me stop you” to “This is my small murder son and no one will hurt him” in a few issues but isn’t that the most in-character thing for Batman? Despite the intensity of the fight between Batman and his old rival, there’s a surprising amount of comedy in this issue—mostly courtesy of Harley Quinn. Her rematch with Clownhunter has a distinct Looney Tunes vibe, but her speech to the plant that reminds her of Ivy actually has some real emotional punch. Tynion clearly wants our girls to be happy! The issue nicely comes full circle near the end, with Bruce responding to Ghost-Maker’s early monologue with one of his own that shows how fully the mystery vigilante has misunderstood Batman’s operation. With some great cameos and one hell of a central fight, it’s another strong issue in a near-flawless run so far.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.