Batman #125 – Chip Zdarsky, Writer; Jorge Jimenez, Belen Ortega, Artists; Tomeu Morey, Luis Guerrero, Colorists
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: A new era begins with Chip Zdarsky jumping on board DC’s flagship book at the same time he’s writing Daredevil at Marvel—and it looks like he’s going to go two-for-two in terms of having the best Superhero books at each company. Volleying off past status quos without a hint of a reset, Zdarsky plunges us into a tense first issue with several mysteries and one central threat. After brief prologues involving a flashback to Alfred and a mysterious project in the Batcave, and the potential return of the Three Jokers, Batman finds himself facing a literally existential threat. The Penguin has begun targeting Gotham’s rich one by one, murdering them in graphic fashion and styling himself as an avenger of the common man. This is all BS, of course, but he’s claimed the life of a friend of Bruce’s, and may be coming for the man himself. Tim Drake, now calling himself Batman again, is back in town to back up his father.
It all builds to a whip-fast confrontation at a Gotham gala attended by many of its richest citizens, with multiple shocking reveals and close calls. Jorge Jimenez, who has drawn Batman before, continues to prove himself one of the best writers working at DC right now. There are some interesting parallels to Zdarsky’s Batman run, as both end with their hero branded as a murderer by the end—but in very different ways. He seems to set up a massive, permanent status quo change to Batman’s rogues gallery by the end of the first issue, and make Batman’s job a lot harder. The cliffhanger’s reveal is strange, but might make a lot of sense thematically with some of Bruce’s comments this issue. It’s a pitch-black new journey into Gotham, but one with clever twists and great one-liners that shows why Zdarsky is such a fast-rising writer.
Zdarsky stays on board and is joined by Belen Ortega for a backup focusing on Catwoman. Most writers have been staying away from that relationship while Tom King had his say, but Zdarsky brings Selina back into the fray for a noir plot set at the Iceberg Lounge as multiple power players try to stake their claim to the famous club. Bringing back the Underbroker from James Tynion’s run as well as a fascinating new character named the Executor, Zdarsky sends Selina on a quest deep into the underworld—one that feels perfectly suited to her current status quo. It’s just a huge win all around as a debut issue.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.