Review: BATMAN #120
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colors: Tomeu Morey, Dave McCaig
Letters: Clayton Cowles, Karl Kerschl
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #120: “Abyss” part three! The new Batman Inc.’s heinous crimes have landed them in a high-security prison. Batman believes the only way to help his old allies is to break them out…but they don’t want his help! Meanwhile, Batman Inc.’s mysterious benefactor uses the chaos to enact their plans, but finds themselves lost in the dark against Abyss!
Backup: The mysterious disappearances being investigated by Maps and Batman take a violent turn… Could this missing person’s case be something much darker?
Last issue, we saw Batman’s encounter with Abyss leave him blinded, with the Badhnisian police closing in. And Batman #120 opens with the unique situation of the Batman being snuck away from the scene in a body bag by Detective Cayha. Although Batman is extremely self-sufficient, he is forced to rely on the Badnisian policewoman’s assistance due to his blindness.
However, Batman is not entirely helpless, as he proves during his attempt to spring the members of Batman Inc. from prison. Despite his blindness, he is able to tackle his former associates when they turn on him. Not only does he not need the detective’s help in guiding his actions, but her attempts to help prove to be a hindrance, distracting him during the fight.
When Luthor arrives on the scene, Batman discovers that Batman Inc. was only working for Luthor to help Abyss kill him. It appears that Abyss has them under some sort of mind control, as this seems rather uncharacteristic for any of these heroes.
Previews of this issue have shown that Lex would be donning a Batsuit, prompting speculation that Luthor might be taking over the Batman identity. Now, we find out why Lex is wearing that costume. He prepared a high-tech costume for Bruce to use if Bruce took Lex’s offer to work for him, since Bruce refused him, Lex was forced to don it himself to deal with Abyss.
It seems that Lex designed that suit specifically with tackling Abyss in mind. When he shows up at the attempted jailbreak, Bruce is able to see Luthor in spite of his blindness. Something about the suit is able to counteract the blindness that Abyss inflicts. And I’m sure that’s no accident.
However, given that Batman Inc. is now under Abyss’ control, it seems that Batman will have to work with Luthor to stop Abyss. And hopefully, this will bring the members of Batman Inc. to their senses.
Batman #120 also contains another chapter of Karl Kerschl’s backup story of Batman’s team-up with Gotham Academy’s Maps Mizoguchi. While Maps makes an unlikely Robin, she rises to the role in admirable fashion. She actually deduces the nature of the creatures Batman is facing and conveys this information to the Dark Knight.
And she uses that information to come to Batman’s aid, distracting the creatures with their favorite food, cucumbers. While Mia doesn’t have the training or physical prowess of an official Robin, she has the requisite bravery. And she clearly has the makings of a good detective. I don’t know that she should become the next Robin, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her getting some official role in the Bat family.
The artwork in both stories is quite stunning. I especially like that both stories feature Batman sporting throwback versions of the Bat costume. In the main story, he wears his Batman Inc. costume, which is fitting for a story featuring that group. And in the backup story, he is wearing the classic bronze age Batsuit. It looks like I was right in guessing that Bruce’s recent financial losses would cause him to have to reuse some of his old outfits. I wonder if we’ll see some more old versions of the Batsuit in the issues ahead.
I have no problems whatsoever with this issue. Both stories were absolutely fantastic.
While I enjoyed James Tynion IV’s run on Batman, Joshua Williamson’s take is still a refreshing change from the Joker War and Fear State events. And Karl Kerschl’s backup story with Maps is a delightful treat. While it’s probably too much to hope for a permanent backup series with Maps, maybe DC should consider giving us a revival of Gotham Academy?