REVIEW: ‘Batman,’ Issue #103

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman 103


Batman #103
 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Carlo Pagulayan, Guillemot March, and Danny Miki, colors by David Baron, and letters by Clayton Cowles. Batman clashes with his old rival Ghost-Maker to prevent him from killing the Clownhunter. Meanwhile, not too far away, one Harley Quinn is performing a little self-care that is about to be oh so rudely interrupted.

I didn’t want to delve into the spoilers of who Ghost-Maker was in the last issue, but now that he’s been revealed I want to weigh in on this character’s origin. And frankly, for me, it’s a tough sell. The concept of one rich white boy traveling the world over learning pretty much everything was ridiculous enough, now two of them did it. And at the exact same time? The fact that Wayne was able to do it was away presented as almost a superpower unto itself. His uniquely sharp intellect and unwavering will were all that allowed him to assimilate all that knowledge and training so fast without break. Apparently now, those qualities are only half as unique as they once were. Regardless, with that off my chest, let’s talk about Batman #103.

Our story opens with a flashback to one of Bruce and Ghost-Maker’s many run-ins when they were training. Through this scene, we are given a clearer picture of who Ghost-Maker is. And while Tynion writes the character with his usual skill, at the outset, he feels like an all too familiar archetype.

His big ideological clash with Bruce is his belief that emotions get in the way, and that Bruce’s kindness makes him weak. That for a person to bring order and peace they must be ruthless, and without compassion for those who do wrong. It’s a song and dance we’ve all heard from anti-heroes before. I do hope that Tynion puts some of those excellent writing skills to work to flesh the character out some as this story progresses. Maybe give a little nuance to what feels like a repetitive number.

Once the story comes back to the present we are dropped right back in where the last issue left off. Batman and Ghost-Maker are locked in combat as Ghost-Maker tries to kill the Clownhunter. This sequence delivers to firmly establish that Ghost-Maker is every bit Bruce’s equal. Not just in combat either. Oracle remains on the line with Bruce, and yet she cannot see or hear Ghost-Maker through any audio or video pickup in range. Foiling Oracle’s tech takes some work.

As the fight clearly balances on a knife’s edge, Bruce urges Clownhunter to get out of dodge. Which he seems to do. At least at first. Batman #103 then cuts away to nearby Harley Quinn, who is why all this is going down here in the first place. Since Clownhunter had marked Quinn as his next target he was preparing to attack when Ghost-Maker showed up.

When we first join Harley she’s having a heart to heart with an ivy she is growing in the hopes that Poison Ivy may hear her through The Green. This is a touching moment of self-care I absolutely love. Through her therapy session is cut off as Clownhunter, rather than heed Bruce’s advice, has decided to go after his intended target. But Harley is no common clown.

I completely love the artistic presentation of Batman #103. While the images themselves are wonderfully drawn and colored, it is the layouts and presentation that truly delivers the action.

So much is done with the layouts and paneling to give the book style. Everything from having characters literally leaping out of panels to gorgeous one-panel style pages with smaller panels overlapping to create a visual unity, it all just lands perfectly. And while things are done throughout the book to add flair to the design, ease of reading is never sacrificed for style. Which panel I needed to go to next was always clear as crystal. A design masterpiece.

Part of this fluidity in Batman #103’s presentation is also due to another solid lettering job by Cowles. All the various dialogue boxes help to further guide the reader’s eye toward the next point in the story.

When all is said and done, Batman #103 delivers a lot of action, and a bit of heart as well. While I’m not currently loving Ghost-Maker as a villain, there is still room for the character to grow. We’ll just have to see where this story takes him, Batman, and all of Gotham.

Batman #103 is available on November 17th wherever comics are sold.

‘Batman,’ Issue #103
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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Batman #103 delivers a lot of action, and a bit of heart as well. While I’m not currently loving Ghost-Maker as a villain, there is still room for the character to grow. We’ll just have to see where this story takes him, Batman, and all of Gotham.