James Tynion IV uses the landmark issue number to clear the stage in grand fashion for his new era of Gotham City in Batman #100. 'The Joker War' has built to a fever pitch. Armed with the infinite resources of Wayne Enterprises, the knowledge of Batman's secret identity, and state-of-the-art Batman technology (namely the Tron-inspired 'future' suit now twisted into a Joker theme), the Joker aims to have an intimate, knife-filled finale to his raging war burning through Gotham.
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, and Guillem March
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
But what he doesn't account for, as always, is the unbroken tenacity of Batman, as well as a one Harley Quinn-shaped wild card, interrupting their latest, harrowing dance. Though the end of grandly scoped and often unwieldy opening arcs of Tynion's tenure on the main Bat title, Batman #100 actually stands as a breezy, neatly emotional introspective on Batman and the rousing emotion capable from stories about him and the Bat-family.
Tynion's script is broad and arguably a bit cheesy in parts, but it's position as the hundredth issue of this volume, branching from the equally ambitious, introspective, and slightly weird Batman: Rebirth #1, as well as the finalization of 'The Joker War' gives it a real punch as a single issue experience. Pair that with the slick, highly cinematic artwork of Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey, supported by back-up artists Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, and Guillem March and strongly characterized letters of Clayton Cowles, and Batman #100 amounts to a purely fun and engaging Batman experience.
'The Joker War' has gripped every borough of Gotham City and nothing short of a miracle can bring them together. Every member of the Bat-family struggles to hold the line against the Joker's clown-ified zombie forces and the city's institutions are paralyzed. Thankfully, Oracle has returned, giving Gotham the break she so sorely needs and reconnecting the Bat-family with their own brand of Bat-themed connectivity for the first time in the title in years.
Both Tynion and the art team play this as the big moment that is it and provides Batman #100 with a tremendous visual set-piece and narrative moment right off the bat. Opening with a Babs focused page of her reactivating the Clock Tower and then splintering the credits across escalating panes, providing looks of each Bat-fam member in pitched battle, the creative team really play up these moments as much as possible, establishing a high visual timbre for the issue as well as a highly energetic tonality and speed for the scripting.
You also get the feeling that this is a big deal for Tynion as well, who leans into the soothing voice of Barabra as she reassures both Gotham and the assembled Bat-forces (which now includes a fully returned Dick Grayson, back in blue and bantering lovingly with Babs in The Clock Tower) through the actions being taken to protect them. Tynion also shined with the large cast of his era of Detective Comics so it's nice to see that same ensemble energy extending outward into the main title now, even though much of the action and focus of these scenes are centered around Nightwing.
But as Tynion focuses in on the ongoing Batman vs. the Joker scenes, provided ghoulish commentaries by the Joker-resurrected corpse of Alfred, the real heart and purpose of Tynion's Batman #100 becomes clear. Echoing certain sentiments brought up by arcs like Scott Snyder's 'Death in the Family' and 'Endgame,' the Joker (re: Tynion) rips into the idea of Batman and how complacent and hollow the "power" he wields is.
Worst still, he pontificates on how the lie of Batman and the protection Wayne Enterprises offers to Gotham has been exposed to the people. He even does so wearing a suit Bruce intended for the "future", where he could be a more bright, more optimistic hero. It's a choice bit of commentary from Tynion, one that has a bit more teeth and narrative gusto than I gave it credit for in the opening issues, and allows him to neatly set up for the title's future as the 'turn' happens and Batman and his family start to gain the upper hand.
Batman #100 also looks tremendous thanks to the wildly expressive pencils of Jorge Jimenez and searing colors of Tomeu Morey. Moving well between sprawling action scenes and intimate profiled tight shots of Batman and the Joker mid-fight, Jimenez brings a keen theatricality to this hundredth issue and takes a more stagey approach to the final (for now) confrontation between Batman and the Joker. Morey's colors also bring an unexpected psychological horror movie feel to the fight, blazing neons and harsh lighting throughout these fight scenes. Occasionally, it muddies some panels, obscuring some of the more emotive elements of Jimenez's pencils and making the stage dressing of the page look inky, but all and all the pair work hard to give Batman #100 a big feel and scope visually.
And in doing so, aided in kind by James Tynion IV's boldly emotional and focused script, they make Batman #100 a pretty fun reading experience overall. Supported by the unique position allowed as an arc's end and noteworthy issue number, James Tynion IV and company deliver a rousing, well-constructed tribute to the power and timeless nature of solid Batman comics. All while shaking things up for the issues to come and commenting on the ever-evolving 'theory of Batman'. Not too shabby for 100 issues if you ask me.