Batman #119 – Joshua Williamson, Karl Kerschl, Writers; Jorge Molina/Adriano Di Benedetto, Mikel Janin, Karl Kerschl, Artists; Tomeu Morey, John Rauch, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Josh Williamson has a tough task ahead of him, following up a quartet of the most acclaimed extended Bat-runs in memory. Based on these first two issues, the veteran horror writer might just join them. The first issue took a lonely, diminished Batman abroad to investigate the murder of a mysterious villain named Abyss—seemingly at the hands of his long-time allies, the international super-team known as Batman Inc. But he wasn’t the only investigator—Lex Luthor, now funding Batman Inc, was on the case as well. Williamson writes Luthor perfectly, making him a ruthlessly pragmatic mastermind who not only purchased Batman Inc.—he’s trying to purchase Batman as well.
Their dinner face-off is brilliantly tense, and it sends Batman into a race against time to solve Abyss’ death before Luthor can create his own narrative. He succeeds in getting answers—but at great personal cost, as he encounters a deadly and powerful villain who acts in unpredictable ways and leaves him in a shockingly vulnerable position at the end of the issue. Although some of the villain’s words this issue seem to call back a little too much to other recent villains, the tension and horror movie feel are top-notch. It’s also interesting to see Batman out of his element abroad in Badhnisia, and the issue has some interesting new supporting players. Each of those four writers put their own unique spin on the character, and so far Williamson is doing the same.
The real star of this issue, though, might be Karl Kerschl’s Maps Mizoguchi backup. Maps is off from Gotham Academy and is returning to the home of her rich parents, but she’s preoccupied with solving the disappearance of an acquaintance of hers from school. As she tries to get the attention of her parents and later Bruce Wayne, it leads to a series of bad decisions that eventually get her caught in the act by Batman while wearing a Robin suit. Maps is a delight of a character, and her relentless optimism and energy placed against the often grim themes of the story is a great combo. It puzzles me that Gotham Academy hasn’t been revived as a graphic novel series yet, but this fantastic opening chapter will hopefully be the start of much more.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.