DC This Week

Review – Batman #116: War Below Gotham

Batman #116 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman #116 – James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan/Michael W. Conrad, Writers; Jorge Jimenez, Jorge Corona, Artists; Tomeu Morey, Dave Stewart, Colorists

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Fear State has kept us guessing since the beginning, even on the most basic question—who is the main villain of this story? Scarecrow, the mastermind behind the psychic and propaganda attack on Gotham, has stayed mostly behind the scenes. Simon Saint, the mastermind of the Magistrate program, has taken full advantage of the chaos to institute a police state. Peacekeeper-01, a former abusive prison guard turned super-cop, has only gotten more insane and violent. And then there’s Queen Ivy, the traumatized and enraged part of Poison Ivy, who has gotten angry enough to try to shatter Gotham from within. This mix of villains has kept Batman—and us—off-balance since the start of the event.

Invasion. Via DC Comics.

This issue, they all start to converge as Batman and Miracle Molly try to track down Ivy before it’s too late. Scarecrow makes his move, and it just may be his last as one of his creations turns on him. This leads to a tense and brutal fight scene deep below Gotham, but the best scenes may take place in the Garden. Ghost-Maker has been holding down the fort as long as he can, and his theatrical attacks are probably the most entertaining part of the story. The cliffhanger might confuse some people—it ties in deeply to what’s happening in Ram V’s Catwoman run, and I’m not sure it’s been set up properly in this book. But this is all coming together into one of the most compelling and chaotic Bat-stories in a while.

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The Batgirls backup also continues to be a bright spot. Things are moving fast here, picking up from the cliffhanger of Nightwing #85 that saw the clock tower and seemingly the Batgirls with it blown up by the Magistrate. With Cass accused of murder and the entire group branded as terrorists, Cass and Steph have no choice but to go on the run and try to find Barbara. This story is fast-paced, but it does a great job of establishing their bond and how scary this scenario must be for two teenage vigilantes. The dialogue for Cass also feels more natural to her speaking style than any I’ve seen in a while. I’m enjoying this run, but I suspect it’ll be even better in its own title without having to tie in to a bigger story.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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This post was last modified on November 1, 2021 2:41 pm

Ray Goldfield

Ray Goldfield is a comics superfan going back almost thirty years. When he's not reading way too many comics a week, he is working on his own writing. The first installment in his young adult fantasy-adventure, "Alex Actonn, Son of Two Seas", is available in Amazon now.

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