Category Archives: Batman

Batman is being overseen by Bryan Lomax.

Batman #113 – Review

Batman #113

Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 2) and Brandon Thomas (Clownhunter Part 2)

Art: Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 2) and Jason Howard (Clownhunter Part 2)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 21/09/21

Published by DC Comics

Gotham City remains in the grip of fear as the false Oracle continues to disseminate misinformation, telling the world of Batman’s demise, and pushing its people further into a state of paranoia. Meanwhile, Batman, very much alive, goes in pursuit of the evidence that he needs for Commissioner Renee Montoya to make a move on Simon Saint and shut down the Magistrate program. He begins by letting Ghost-Maker into his mind in order to remember what really happened to him when the Scarecrow had him bound and drugged. But this leads to revelations, not from his own mind, but Ghost-Maker’s.

I love how confidently Batman tells Simon Saint that he’s going to tear down everything he’s doing. It’s Batman at his most bad-ass and it’s awesome! On the flip-side of that, seeing Barbara aka the real Oracle, seemingly able to do nothing but slam her fist against her keyboard, is somewhat frustrating, as she is usually the one able to take control of the cyberspace.  Check out Catwoman #35 to find out who is behind the fake Oracle.

Also frustrating, but not entirely unexpected, is seeing Commissioner Montoya sitting behind a desk almost drowning in her sorrows as she struggles to police the city. Once, just once, I’d love to see the Gotham City PD being a bit more instrumental in helping Batman to bring down the villains’ schemes, instead of relying on him to do everything, thereby justifying their existence. In fact, the Fear State story-line calls for that, given Saint’s Magistrate program was instigated as a way of tackling the crime that is “too big for the police to handle”. It would be a great big middle finger at Saint to have Montoya and her officers be the one to work him and bring him down, while Batman and his posse take on Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01.

The real standout section of this issue is when Batman and Ghost-Maker get together. There are a couple of times I actually laughed out loud, whether it’s the homoerotic framing of a situation being undercut by flashes to all of Batman’s very hetero-dalliances, or Ghost-Maker’s bland description of Bruce’s life history peppered with comments that allude to Ghost-Maker’s own “greatness”, the two men make for an entertaining double-act.

Props once again to Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey whose art and coloring rank as my favorite in the current roster of Batman related titles on the market. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of the supporting story-line, “Clown-Hunter Part 2”, as it was pretty much over before it got going, which is unfortunately the case, more often than not, with these shorts that seem tacked on to the back these days. Bring back the letters page, that’s what I say!


Verdict

Some great interplay between Batman and Ghost-Maker makes for a highly entertaining chapter of the Fear State saga.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 03/10/21

Batman #112 Review


Batman #112
Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer:
James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 1)
Thomas Brandon (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Art:
Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 1)
Howard Jason (Clownhunter in DIY Part 1)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 07/09/21
Published by DC Comics

Fear State finally gets under way in the latest issue of Batman. Although, truth be told, this really doesn’t feel like the starting point of the story given that the events that take place here are merely a continuation of everything that has already been happening for the last few months. I feel a more suitable title would be “Fear State: part seven” or whatever! Regardless, it’s a cracking issue, as everything in Gotham seems to be falling apart all thanks to the Scarecrow.

Seeing Batman crippled by fear, thanks to some new technology that Scarecrow is using, is really quite unnerving. At one point, he reaches out to his allies via radio communications, almost begging for help. Several times he uses the word, “please”, as he tries to reach his team. Seeing this from Batman just feels wrong. He’s not the kind of man who begs. Ever! And yet, it only adds to what writer James Tynion is trying to achieve here in making Scarecrow a truly A-list villain, the kind who poses a genuine threat to Batman as well as Gotham City.

Peacekeeper-01 descends further down the rabbit hole of insanity, again, thanks to Scarecrow’s new technology, paving the way for what is sure to be a much more formidable foe in Peacekeeper X.

So far, Simon Saint’s bodyguard, Ricardo, has been a pretty one-note character, so I’m hoping he’s going to get a bit more fleshed out over the course of the next few issues before we are asked to accept him as a bonafide, bad-ass super-villain. Either way, he seems to be heading for a showdown with former GCPD officer, Sean Mahoney which, if handled right, has the potential to flesh out both characters, as they compete for the “honor” of being Saint’s number one lapdog.

Tomeu Morey does the colours once more for Tynion’s story and it must be said that his work is absolutely beautiful! I particularly love what he does with Poison Ivy, who is given a very limited role here, but when she’s on the page with other colorful characters, like Miracle Molly and Harley Quinn, the images really pop. Ivy is a character that has recently been hovering on the peripheries of stories running throughout the pages of Batman and Detective Comics. It’s pretty clear that her power has grown exponentially beyond anything we’ve seen from her before. It’s also clear that, due to her constant background presence, she will at some point play a major part in Fear State. Whether that is in the form of a foe or an ally remains to be seen. But right now she seems to be the biggest threat to Scarecrow’s plans and probably the safest bet in Batman defeating Jonathan Crane’s alter ego.


Verdict –

Fear State kicks into high gear, promising a fantastic showdown between the heroes (and anti-heroes) of Gotham and the most threatening version of Scarecrow that we’ve ever seen, thanks to the wonderful team of James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey.



Review by Bryan Lomax, 23/09/21


Batman #111 Review


Batman #111
Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Jorge Jimenez (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)
Colours: Tomeu Morey (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)
Released: 03/08/21
Published by DC Comics

James Tynion IV does a truly great job on villain duty this issue. He is helped immensely with long-time Batman villain, Scarecrow, thanks to the amazing artwork of Jorge Jiminez and Tomeu Morey in ‘The Cowardly Lot Part Five’, which turns the villain into a truly scary, Jigsaw-like mad man. He becomes a viable threat towards Batman whereas, in the past, he has often run the risk of appearing like a B-lister.

I love that Tynion doesn’t get too precious with his own creations here too. Having brought us Peacemaker 01, building the villain up over the previous four issues, there might be a temptation there to show just how formidable he is at Scarecrow’s expense. But Tynion has no problem showing us where he sits on the rogues gallery totem pole, as Scarecrow takes centre stage and puts Simon Saint’s puppet in his place.

Not that I doubted for a second that Miracle Molly would get out of the predicament she found herself in at the end of the last issue, but I still couldn’t help breathe a sigh of relief that the character will live to fight another day, having grown rather attached to her.

Ghost-Maker chapter 4 properly gives us an introduction to the new villain, Razorline, a horrific self-made monster who, once again, gives off some serious movie-inspired vibes. For anyone who has seen the French horror film, ‘Martyrs’, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. This is a sick and twisted mind that has sought to gain some form of transcendence through pain.

The artwork by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz hasn’t really grabbed me until now. But his style seems to fit with the character of Razorline for some reason.

The only thing that I am seriously unimpressed with are the final words of the issue, which tell us that the conclusion to the Ghost-Maker storyline can be found in the upcoming Batman Annual #1. Personally I am of the opinion that annuals should feature self-contained stories, but that also, unless a particular story is part of a major crossover series then it should end within the pages of the title where it began. Otherwise it just feels like an attempt by the publishers to get you to pick up more titles.

Still, this is a great issue that makes me excited to read the conclusions to both storylines that feature within. Bring on Batman #112 and Batman Annual #1!


Verdict –

Ghostmaker is given a truly compelling villain and Batman faces off against perhaps the best iteration of the Scarecrow that I’ve ever seen.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 15/08/21

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990
Review by Bryan Lomax

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Jim Aparo

Inks:
Mike DeCarlo
Published by DC Comics March 1990

Batman goes to Russia to help the Moscow police commissioner catch The NKVDemon, protégé of The KGBeast, who is out for revenge against those who betrayed his master. The Demon works his way through a hit list of 10 people, much the same way as the KGBeast attempted to do in Gotham, only this time the hunting ground is his home turf in Russia. Can Batman accomplish what he once did in a city he is unfamiliar with?

‘Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast’, written by Jim Starlin in the late 80’s, is one of the seminal works of that decade. Marv Wolfman, no slouch when it comes to writing Batman, is given the task, two years later, of writing a direct sequel to that story. ‘When the Earth Dies! Chapter One: Red Square, Bloody Square’ is a pretty good starting point for it.


Wolfman bookends his story with two sequences. The opener sees Batman catching a villain in Gotham, his home turf, precisely because he knows every street, every alleyway, every sewer tunnel. The closing scene plays out similarly, only this time the villain escapes, precisely because Batman doesn’t know the layout of the city he’s in. In Moscow, the streets, alleyways and sewers belong to The Demon.

Batman #445

I love when stories are bookended. It’s a great device that writers can use to show us a change has happened, whether it be in a character’s personal growth, or in their circumstances. Here we see that Batman is Gotham. Gotham is as much a part of him as the air in his lungs. Without it, he cannot breathe, he cannot function as well as he once did. It gives his nemesis the edge.

That nemesis in question is probably the weakest element of the story, as The Demon is essentially just The Beast, only with a slightly different costume. I would rather they had just brought back The Beast himself. It would be much more fun to see a rematch with the iconic villain, where Batman no longer has the upper hand, instead of giving us a carbon copy in his place.

I always have a sense of nostalgia for Jim Aparo’s artwork. He’s not my favourite, but seeing his work always takes me back to my childhood, when I started reading comic books. It’s very much a golden era for me personally. But it’s great that both Aparo and inker, Mike DeCarlo, both return here, as it was the two of them that brought the ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ storyline to life.


It must be said that this particular story is very dated as it assumes quite heavily on the audience’s knowledge of Russian politics of the time. And seeing Bruce just randomly bumping into Vicki Vale whilst dining out in Moscow is very quaint. Also, it seems to me that, if The Demon spent as much time doing stuff as he does gasbagging about a better Russia, he might actually stand a chance of achieving his goal. Some of his dialogue is stilted to say the least.

Batman #445


Verdict:

A great nostalgia trip for anyone who read comics as a child of the 80’s, but reading Jim Starlin’s ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ before this is strongly recommended.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 24/07/21


Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 Review

Review by Andy Flood

Written by:
Christos Gage

(Concept/Story Consultant: Donald Mustard)
Art:

Reilly Brown (Pencils), Nelson Faro DeCastro (Inks)

Colours: John Kalisz

Letters: Andworld Design

Released 20/4/21 Published By DC Comics

Epic Games are well known for working in crossovers and mashups with different areas of pop culture, having previously brought characters and elements from Star Wars, Marvel, DC and others to their game Fortnite.  To tie in with their latest in-game Batman appearance, DC launched Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point.  Aside from being a cool crossover project/event, each comic contains a unique code which allows for a free download of DC themed in-game goodies (this first being a Harley Quinn costume or ‘skin’).  If all 6 issues are purchased and redeemed, readers get the ‘Armoured Batman’ skin as an additional freebie.  All of this makes the limited run incredibly good value for money for Fortnite and DC fans.

Even were this not a factor, the comic itself has a great many things going for it.  The cover here is by Mikel Janín, whose art has graced numerous DC titles recently, not least of which have been some excellent covers on the current Action Comics arc.  This cover is immediately recognisable and sets a precedent in terms of style for the other covers to follow while also giving us a nice taster of the varied characters we are about to meet.

We open on a classic Batman scene: a dramatic rooftop meeting between Jim Gordon and Batman.  The Bat-signal in the cloudy night sky torn asunder by a strange, crackling rift.  The creators waste no time in dropping us straight into the action and within a few exciting panels, we are following Batman as he is thrust through this rift into… where?


This is one of many questions Batman faces as he wakes in this new world.  While the setting will be instantly familiar and thrilling for fans of the Fortnite game, it shows Batman in unfamiliar territory in more ways than one.  He scarcely has time to catch his breath before he is drawn into a series of seemingly random encounters.  Here we get to see Batman adapt, analyze and survive in a near literal maelstrom of chaos, despite having no memory of who he is and being unable to speak!

Christos Gage uses Batman’s inner monologue to great effect here, showing a clear understanding of what make the famous Dark Knight tick.  As we learn about this new world through Batman’s experiences, Gage cleverly introduces concepts from Fortnite which will delight fans of the game while also intriguing DC fans.  The tone of the writing is just right, and keeps us invested until the final page.

Artwork is bold, dynamic and colourful; just what is needed for this title.  The world of Fortnite is mercurial and, as such, can be hard to characterise but the art team have done a great job of nailing the style of both the game and the featured DC characters.


Verdict

‘Zero Point’ is a title which manages to get a lot of things right when so many could have gone wrong.  While there is some definite crossover between comic fans and players of Fortnite, it would have been easy to alienate either group.  This issue has plenty to please everyone and, if you’re lucky enough to be fans of both, you get a great comic to read and some very cool stuff for your game.  A cool read for all ages.

(Suggested ages 13+ by DC)


Review by Andy Flood, 20/7/21


Batman #110 Review


Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)

Colours: Tomeu Morey (“The Cowardly Lot Part Five”) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (“Ghost-Maker Chapter 4”)

Published by DC Comics Released: 06/07/21

Review by Bryan Lomax


I stated in my review for the previous issue that I came into James Tynion’s story, “The Cowardly Lot”, somewhat late, but that I filled in the blanks with a quick search on the internet. Since then, I have gone back and read issue #106-#107, and I would highly recommend everyone doing the same if you haven’t already. Issue #107, in particular, really tells us who the character of Miracle Molly is, and what she stands for, in a way that makes me care for whether or not she will get out of the predicament we find her in by the end of issue #110. It also dives deep into the main themes of Tynion’s overarching story, adding more weight to events that happen in the current issue.

That theme is fear or, more to the point, societal fear. Tynion is asking, “where does that fear come from, why do we allow ourselves to be held prisoner by it and who stands to gain something from it?” The Scarecrow is obviously the perfect villain from Batman’s rogues gallery with which to explore that theme. But it’s still unclear as to where he fits into it all. Is he being used or is he the mastermind behind all that is happening in Gotham?

Then we have Simon Saint and his Peace Keeper program. Saint represents a threat that uses fear to achieve an agenda. And, while that agenda may ultimately be based on noble ideals, it’s execution reveals a complete lack of trust in the people it would supposedly serve. It is therefore no more than a vain attempt at making a play for power and control, marking Saint out as a true villain.

We have former Arkham security guard, Sean Mahoney, who takes up the frontman position of Saint’s Peace Keeper force. He represents much of what so many people today fear, particularly in the US, as their country becomes more and more divided, seemingly heading towards totalitarianism. If Gotham was to embrace Saint’s Peace Keepers then it might as well change its name to Mega City One.

The scary thing about Miracle Molly and the Unsanity Collective is that everything they say about the definitions of “sane” and “insane” and who gets to decide upon them makes for quite a convincing argument. The greatest system of control, Tynion argues, is fear and we are all caught up in it. But those who do not fear anything, such as Ghost-Maker, are labelled as psychopaths, even though, as this story shows, they might be the only ones we can count on to release us from our own prisons of fear.

These are the things I find myself thinking about as I read this issue, which is all down to the excellent story telling from Tynion. And once again I have to say that I’m really loving the artwork by Jorge Jaminez and the beautifully rich colours by Tomeu Morey.

I’m still not quite as keen on the artwork for the “Ghost-Maker” origin story, now in its fourth chapter, which kind of feels like Tynion is setting up a rogues gallery for his creation, that he can then use as a starting point, should the character get his own series. Beyond that there’s not much to complain about and I eagerly await the next issue.


Verdict –

The pairing of artist, Jorge Jimenez, with colourist, Tomeu Morey, works wonders in bringing Tynion’s compelling study on societal fear to life.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 17/07/21


Batman #109 Review

Batman #109

Writer: James Tynion IV

Art: Jorge Jimenez and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz

Released: 01/06/21

Published by DC Comics

It’s been quite a few years since I picked up a Batman comic from my local comic book store. In many respects issue 109, from writer James Tynion, was probably not the best place to begin my re-entry into the world of the Dark Knight. It doesn’t help that this is the fourth part of a larger story, but I am introduced to at least three fairly major characters and, quite frankly, I’ve no clue who they are. A quick internet search filled me in on what I needed to know however, so even without the rest of the story that precedes this issue, there is no need to be kept in the dark.

The events that take place within Batman #109 created more than enough intrigue for this thirty-year Batman fan that it is a testament to Tynion’s writing that I was interested enough to even do said internet search. The Ghost-Maker character, created as a twisted mirror image to Batman himself it seems, certainly has a lot of potential to go either way as hero or villain.

The artwork in the primary story, part four of “The Cowardly Lot”, is fantastic. At one point, on page 16, artist Jorge Jimenez invokes the spirit of the late, great, Norm Breyfogle, which is always a plus in my book.

The artwork for the secondary story, chapter three of “Ghost-Maker”, while perfectly fine, didn’t really excite me in the same way and I felt it was a bit too cartoony for a Batman comic. It would be much more suited to something like Scott Pilgrim in my personal opinion. Even so, the writing by Tynion rises above it enough to make me want to go a little deeper into his work.

Verdict –

Fantastic artwork from Jorge Jimenez really compliments the intriguing character development, from writer James Tynion, igniting a desire to seek out more of both men’s previous work.

Review by Bryan Lomax, 13/06/21