Review: BATMAN #102
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #102: Bruce Wayne and the city he loves have changed dramatically following the events of “The Joker War,” but Batman and his mission are eternal. But not everyone thinks that should be the case… The mysterious vigilante known as Ghost-Maker has known Bruce since they were teenagers, and he’s made his decision. It’s time Gotham City had a new hero.
DC has dropped various hints about the future of Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, in The Joker War Zone and in the final issues of Batgirl and Batman and the Outsiders. Tynion teases a bit more about this in Batman #102.
Barbara is shown as comfortably acting in the role of Oracle, as she assists Batman this issue. She appears to be weighing a important decision about which role to carry on with. She tells Bruce, “I don’t know whether I do more good out on the streets as Batgirl, or at the computer as Oracle. Seeing Cassandra and Stephanie wearing the Bat-Symbol gave me some ideas. But it feels like I’m trying to solve an equation with too many variables. It feels like everything is changing”.
Add to this the fact that Future State: The Next Batman solicitations mention Stephanie and Cass being “Batgirls”. I suspect that Babs is going to be reclaiming the role of Oracle full-time and mentoring a younger version of Batgirls.
Also, it appears that Harley Quinn is sticking around in Gotham City, instead of returning to Belle Reve or Coney Island. Clearly, it seems that she is joining Batman’s supporting cast, but in what capacity? Will she be a member of the extended Bat-Family, part of a new Birds of Prey, or will she return to her villainous ways? In any case, she will probably cause a number headaches for the Dark Knight.
Ghosthunter is an intriguing idea for a villain. A villain from the days when Bruce was training to become the Batman isn’t entirely. But, it does provide a somewhat unique situation for Bruce. Given that Ghosthunter trained under a number of the same masters that Bruce did, that likely puts them in the same league as fighters. And it seems clear that he knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
And the clear advantage Bruce would normally have over a villain like Ghosthunter would be his access to superior technology – except that this advantage has been hobbled due to Bruce’s being cut off from the resources of Wayne International. So, it could be that Bruce is in for the most evenly matched fight of his career.
Babs makes a statement that makes me wonder about Bruce’s future as the Batman. When Bruce asks Oracle for information on how many opponents he’s about to encounter, she quips, “Lucius told you that he won’t keep repairing your suits, and you don’t want to do it yourself, do you?”.
I can’t help but wondering how Bruce will cope with damage to his uniforms and other equipment. Without resources or Alfred to fix them, will Bruce’s uniforms start showing wear and tear? Will he have to resort to using older Batsuits or gear? Maybe we’ll get to see Bruce in some classic versions of his costume or driving classic Batmobiles.
Speaking of which, the Batsuit is looking particularly iconic this issue. This is, in my opinion, the perfect colour scheme for Batman’s costume. And of the all the new characters Tynion has introduced during this run, Ghostmaker has by far the best-looking outfit.
We’re just starting to explore the new status quo for Gotham City, but there’s nothing so far that worries me. There’s still a lot to discover yet, but so far, it looks, things look good so far.
Batman #102 shows the promise of Tynion’s post-Joker War Gotham City. I look forward to seeing the challenges it poses for the Darknight Detective and how he will overcome them. I can hardly wait to see what Tynion has in store for us as he ushers in a new era of Batman adventures.