REVIEW: ‘Batman: The Joker War Zone,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1
Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, John Ridley, Joshua Williamson and Sam Johns, art by James Stokoe, Laura Braga, David Lafuente, Olivier Coipel and Guillemot March, colors by Tomeu Morey, Matt Hollingsworth, Hi-Fi and Antonio Fabela, with letters by Clayton Cowles, Tom Napolitano, Gabriela Downie, Deron Bennett.

With law and order things of the past in Gotham, everyone has a plan and a goal. And whichever side you are on, achieving your goals will be hard, dangerous work. But Gotham has always had a way of hardening those who choose to walk her streets. Whether as a villain or a hero, anything gained in Gotham has always had to be earned the hard way.

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 delivers an anthology of tales that build out the greater story within the current Joker War storyline. There is a great variety of characters and story styles at play in this book. It delivers enough of a variety that if you are following the main storyline, or are just a Bat-fan in general, there is probably something here that’ll interest you.

The two stories that most link Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 to the larger storylines follow up directly from events occurring in other recent issues. With one following what impact Catwoman’s gift to Lucius Fox has on his life, to Poison Ivy’s return to Eden after Harley’s confrontation with Punchline, these story’s grant more insight, and meaningful repercussions to the previous events they pick up after.

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 
I wonder if Joker would be singing a different tune if Bane wasn’t already in shackles???

But what I think will be the stand out story from Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 will be Tynion’s penning of a confrontation between Joker and Bane.

After having lost his recent bid to rule Gotham, Bane is held imprisoned in Arkham. Bound by huge chains that keep him suspended, as giant machines drain the venom from his body, Bane has seen better days. It is under these conditions that the Joker decides to pay him a visit. What the conversation is, I won’t spoil. But Tynion does a great job of giving both characters their due.

With the Joker in the spotlight, it would be easy to let him rule this scene unopposed. And while he does do most of the talking, Bane, despite his current predicament, still holds a sense of power all his own. He is the man that broke the bat. And while Bane’s status in Batman’s rogue’s gallery clearly irks the Clown Prince of Crime, he is powerless to do anything about it.

My personal favorite story however stars my two favorite Bat-children. With Gotham on fire, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain decide Gotham needs a familiar symbol to rally behind. What they bring to Gotham had me cheering. I really hope this story is a tease for bigger things to come!

While I universally enjoyed the writing in Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 the art is a bit more hit or miss for me. A couple of the story’s, such as March’s portrayal of the aforementioned confrontation between Joker and Bane shines. Unfortunately, other stories are not so fortunate. The books lowest visual point comes in it’s final story. The art provided by Stokoe for this story feels like it is simply trying too hard. It looks to capture the insanity, and brutality of Joker’s reign in Gotham. But it goes too far, delivering characters that feel less menacing, and more outlandish.

Wrapping up the visuals for Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 is a strong lettering performance from it’s many contributors. Every story was delivered clearly, with several providing those extra flourishes of design that takes lettering from being a story delivery system, to an enhancing one.

When all is said and done Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 delivers a series of stories that both flesh out the events of the current Joker War storyline, while also planting seeds for things to come. I can only hope that those seeds bear fruits worthy of the excellent beginnings they have been given.

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 is available September 29th wherever comics are sold.

 

Batman: The Joker War Zone #1
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TL;DR

When all is said and done Batman: The Joker War Zone #1 delivers a series of stories that both flesh out the events of the current Joker War storyline, while also planting seeds for things to come. I can only hope that those seeds bear fruits worthy of the excellent beginnings they have been given.