REVIEW: ‘Batman,’ Issue #98

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman #98
Batman
#98 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Jorge Jimenez, colors by Tomeu Morey and letters by Clayton Cowles. As Harley’s tea continues to purge Batman of the Joker Toxin, the duo receive an unwelcome visitor to Ivy’s sanctum. It’s up to Harley to hold Punchline off while Bruce gets his head clear.

Control. If most of us were honest with ourselves, it would be the one thing we’d take in our lives. The ability to control what does or doesn’t happen to us. We often permit ourselves the illusion of control. That we somehow are not at the mercy of tides and events so much greater than our own hands could ever pin down, or wield. Not even The Batman can control his life. As the all too recent death of his most constant ally in Alfred reminded him. And the harder you try to control your life the more brutal the shattering of the illusion is. And, as anyone who reads his comics knows, there’s nothing Batman loves more, than feeling like he is in control.

Bruce’s side of Batman #98 has him coming to terms with the loss of his great constant, Alfred. Alfred never left Bruce’s side. Now, as The Joker Toxin ravages his mind, and Harley’s special tea races to cleanse him, Bruce must cleanse his soul for any of it to matter. He has to find the strength to accept what is beyond his control. He has to let his old friend go.

Tynion imbues his script with a heartfelt essence that is perfection. As “Alfred” forces Bruce to confront the nature of the world, and how much it needs him whole, Bruce’s struggles feel overwhelmingly genuine. The truths he must face are harsh and incredibly real.

Batman #98

Even as Tynion delivers a fantastic narrative within Bruce’s head, outside a completely different struggle takes place. As Punchline arrives looking to burn down what little good is left in Gotham. Even beyond the fact that Punchline recently attempted to kill Harley, her presence is particularly painful for the former Joker fan girl.

Seeing another individual being manipulated by Joker into believing he’s something he isn’t is, understandably, painful for Harley. Even as they trade blows Harley desperately tries to reach Punchline. To save her from her mistakes. Again, Tynion’s dialogue delivers these moments admirably. But while it’s the writer who stole the show inside Bruce’s head, it’s Jimenez’s art that delivers the knock out punch for the struggle outside it.

Now don’t get me wrong, Batman #98‘s art is, in all parts of the book,  gorgeous. But it is between Harley and Punchline that it takes center stage. Not only does Jimenez capture the desperation of Harley, but the art is able to keep pace with the veritable tidal wave of emotions rupturing from Punchline. Doubt, rage, and confusion all are present as Harley makes her bid to save her. Punchline’s infuriated denial is captured so powerfully, that the punches that follow it made me wince. It’s a good thing Harley is made of some pretty stern stuff.

As I’ve said, Jimenez’s art is fantastic in Batman #98, and it is greatly helped by Morey’s powerful color work. The amazing choices made here give the art that extra punch it needs in all it’s hardest moments.

Finally, the letter work here delivers a performance that is easy to follow, and presents it’s narrative cleanly.

Batman #98 goes exactly where I needed it to go. While last issue lagged a bit for me, this story instantly brought it back. It ends on a big “Get Hype” moment and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what awaits as the story unfolds.

Batman #98 is available September 1st wherever comics are sold.

 

Batman #98
5

TL;DR

Batman #98 goes exactly where I needed it to go. While last issue lagged a bit for me, this story instantly brought it back. It ends on a big “Get Hype” moment and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what awaits as the story unfolds.