Review: Batman #121

by Derek McNeil
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Review: BATMAN #121

Batman #121 - DC Comics News

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writers: Joshua Williamson, Karl Kerschl

Artists: Jorge Molina, Mikel Janin, Karl Kerschl

Colors: Tomeu Morey, Dave McCaig

Letters: Clayton Cowles, Karl Kerschl

Reviewed By: Derek McNeil


Batman #121: The deadly conclusion to the “Abyss” arc as Lex Luthor’s dangerous master plan for Batman Inc. is revealed. And an old ally returns to pull the lost Batman out of Abyss’s darkness and a new member of Batman Inc. rises! In the final chapter of “They Make Great Pets,” Maps finds the missing piece to the shocking and deadly mystery…with a little help from Batman!


Batman #121 begins with a flashback to Bruce Wayne announcing Batman Inc. to the world. We see Lex Luthor’s reaction to the announcement. His first response is to wonder what Bruce is up to. I’m not sure if this is before Lex figured out that Bruce is the Batman. Or perhaps this is what first aroused Lex’s suspicions, leading him to discover Bruce’s secret.

Lex also gets inspiration from the announcement. We discover that Lex’s inspiration was to start a similar operation to Batman Inc. so he could have his own costumed crimefighters on his payroll. He decides to base his operation in Badhnisia because it’s one of “the most dangerous locations in the world”. This sounds like Lex wants a place that’s like Gotham but doesn’t already have a Batman.

It turns out that Lex’s operation created Abyss. And Abyss’ main goal is to get revenge on Luthor. This explains why Lex’s Batsuit contains technology that counteracts Abyss’ powers. I like that Bruce quickly figures this out and then just takes that tech for himself, without even asking Lex.

It’s also rather ironic that Batman, who usually works in the shadows, has to use light as a weapon against Abyss. Williamson makes good use of the light and darkness dichotomy in the Batman mythos. This is especially evident when Batman tells Lex, “You gave darkness to Abyss. A weapon I’m experienced with… so I’ll bring us both into the light”. And there’s also Alfred’s admonition that “There are enemies who hide in the light as well”. Batman shows that although he normally strikes from the darkness, that doesn’t mean he can’t be effective in the light as well.

Batman #121 - DC Comics News

Positives Cont.

It came as something as a surprise last issue when the members of Batman Inc. weren’t really working for Luthor but had sided with Abyss against him. However, we learn that it was a double-bluff when Batman says to them, “Batman Inc…. Code: Club of Heroes”. On hearing this, they turn on Abyss, revealing that they were working undercover for the Dark Knight all along.

It’s interesting that Batman Inc. drops their cover at Batman’s command, as it felt like the team was operating without Batman’s involvement or knowledge and I think I detect a bit of discontent that Batman has suddenly returned after leaving them to fend for themselves. Of course, he does promise them that he will be in touch, so perhaps he’ll become more involved with them all again.

Afterward, we see Batman contacting Ghost-Maker.  The exchange hints at his best frenemy and Clownhunter having some involvement with Batman Inc. IThis directs readers to check out the upcoming Batman 2022 Annual to follow that story. Maybe there’s some potential for a spin-off Batman Inc. series or miniseries if that annual sells well. Or it could be that Williamson doesn’t have a use for these characters or that he could be using this as a convenient way to remove them from Gotham City, but keep them available if he or a future writer wants to make use of them in the future.

The second epilogue is mainly a teaser that Batman is about to have some kind of encounter with Deathstroke The Terminator. Again the reader is directed to follow the story in another title – this time in Shadow War: Alpha. That special is the start of a crossover of the titles Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. Deathstroke mentions that his current plan hinges on Batman being distracted, which almost certainly means that Batman will be looking into whatever Deathstroke is planning.

Batman #121 - DC Comics News

Positives Cont.

We also get the final chapter of Maps Mizoguchi’s team-up with Batman. Having rescued Maps’ friend from the sewers, Batman takes her back home. She offers to give the Dark Knight “detective help” on a part-time basis. However, Batman isn’t having any of this. He tells her, “Mia, you could have been killed tonight. I need you to limit your crime-fighting efforts to school grounds”. Maps takes this calmly, but of course, that doesn’t stop her from continuing her current investigation.

This is contrasted with their interaction after they have an encounter with a monster. This encounter terrifies the girl and leaves her shaken, forcing Batman to comfort her. And he does so by allowing her, at least for that instant, to realize her dream by acknowledging her as Robin. This is quite a touching scene, and it’s great to get a brief look at Batman’s more tender side.

However, she does seem to be coping well with the trauma. We see Maps talking to her friend Katherine Karlo, the daughter of Clayface, about her horrifying experience, but when Katherine asks her “Do you still think you want to be a Robin? Is it worth feeling this way?”, Maps responds with a smile that says that it’s totally worth it. I don’t know that Maps could ever really be a Robin, but I’d love to see her eventually take on some role in the Bat-Family.


I had no issues with Batman #121. Both stories were well-written and beautifully drawn. The only complaint I do have is that a new creative team’s been announced. I was hoping that Joshua Williamson would stay for an extended run. However, the news that Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez are taking over Batman bodes well for the title.


Batman #121 was a great issue that gave solid and satisfying endings to both the main and backup storylines. I have especially enjoyed the second story with Maps and think that DC really needs to bring back Gotham Academy. I look forward to seeing what Williamson has planned for the Batman in the upcoming Shadow War crossover, especially considering that the story will reunite Bruce with his son Damian.


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