Batman #129 – Chip Zdarsky, Writer; Jorge Jimenez, Leonardo Romero, Artists; Tomeu Morey, Jordie Bellaire, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: When we last left off, the threat of Failsafe had escalated—in a big way. The robot assassin designed to kill Batman if he ever crossed the line had been activated and it tore through the Bat-family in no time. But when Batman escaped, barely alive, it moved on to its next move—cordoning off Gotham from the rest of the world, turning it into a prison, all to lure Batman out of hiding for a final showdown. Some backstory reveals the reason it hasn’t been de-activated now that Penguin’s ruse was uncovered—and naturally, it all comes back to who’s missing. But while Batman is recovering in Atlantis, Failsafe continues to tear through the world’s defenses, and now he’s coming for Aquaman.
The tension in this issue is brilliantly done, with Batman pulling off one narrow escape after another as he lures Failsafe to the JL Watchtower and tricks the robot back to Earth—at potentially fatal cost to himself. This is a villain unlike any we’ve seen before—one so logical and so implacable that none of Batman’s usual tricks work. The hard sci-fi tone of the issue is a dramatic shift for Batman’s usual title, but I think that’s why it works so well. Much like the issue of Batman: The Knight that focused on magic, it’s interesting to see Batman truly out of his depth—and in this issue, we see exactly how far Batman is willing to go to fight back when he’s trying to exorcise his own demons.
But where did those demons come from? The backup with art by Leonardo Romero is no less compelling, as Batman is still recovering from the effects of Dr. Milo’s manipulation. As Batman pursues Joker on a particularly gruesome caper, it becomes clear that Batman isn’t all there—and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is looming. Taking place in several timelines, it’s more of a mood piece than anything as it delves into the origins of Batman’s no-killing rule, and it ends with a truly chilling moment as we’re left hanging for the next part.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.