REVIEW: ‘Batman,’ Issue #123

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman #123 - But Why Tho

Batman #123 rings in part five of the DC crossover ‘Shadow War’. This story, and the backup, are written by Joshua Williamson with art by Howard Porter and Trevor Hairsine. Tomeu Morey and Rain Beredo provide colors with Clayton Cowles and Willie Schubert on letters.  A lot happened back in Robin #13 (part 4 of ‘Shadow War’). Respawn isn’t just Deathstroke’s son, but a clone of Damian. Batman now, finally, knows Deathstroke was set up for Ra’s al Ghul’s murder. Batman and Robin are back together and it’s time to find the real killer and set things right.

Almost. We’re not at the finale just yet, but this issue gets the ball rolling so it felt like, at last, there was meat to this story. The Dynamic Duo infiltrates Blackgate Penitentiary to interrogate a criminal recently hired to take part in a gang of wannabe Deathstrokes (Justice League #68). The way this crossover has a point bleeding out from that Justice League arc was very good continuity, and with the setup for the scene, the inks, the gargoyle approach to Batman visually, and the heroic teamwork brought it all home. I was hooked right away. So the heroes get closer to finding the real murderer, but Deathstroke and company are still on the run, albeit with a lot more interpersonal conflict and dialogue between him, Respawn, and Ravager. Yes, ninjas galore are still thrown at them, but the story is no longer sacrificed for that. Pacing is on point, the characters are all well written, and we’re beginning to see how part four’s revelation is playing on Damian. All in all, props to Williamson who made me into a believer this issue.

Batman #123 has it’s first story artwork come in dirty, grimy, and dark thanks to Porter and Morey. Batman appears like a stone gargoyle, and it took some eyeing it but I ended up loving it. He appears more like a monster criminals should fear. Some of the Eagles are jarring a bit, but overall the look is mean and powerful. There are some nice shots of Ghostmaker, Batman Inc., and all the other characters involved, plus a vibrant bevy of action sequences. Cowles plays cool on the balloons but heavy and loud with SFX, and I love it. The entire first story bangs.

The second story, ‘Batman Versus Deathstroke and the Joker,’ kicks off with a Joker Venom infected Slade Wilson being confronted by Batman. This story takes place years ago, and Deathstroke does not take the new well at all and decides to, well…kill the Joker. The chase scene is well choreographed, and Batman looks lean but confident. Joker is absolutely mad and the artwork by Hairsine is clean and open, with shadows kept sensibly on Batman. Not sure how I feel about his particular rendering of Joker, but all the pencils are sharp. Beredo paints a brighter picture than what we get in ‘Shadow War’ with crisp lettering to accompany it. This entire second set looks and reads like a Batman tale from years back, so kudos to Williamson and company for the artistic trip back in time.

Batman #123 is a complete turnaround in the ‘Shadow War’ chain while adding to the Bat lore in the second story. This is an engaging, frenzied, fun issue that you should really add to your stack this week.

Batman #123  is available wherever comic books are sold.


Batman #123
4

TL;DR

Batman #123 is a complete turnaround in the ‘Shadow War’ chain while adding to the Bat lore in the second story. This is an engaging, frenzied, fun issue that you should really add to your stack this week.