DC Pick of the Week: Batman #95

photo courtesy DC Comics

“They want all the pieces in the right places. All the characters saying the parts they want them to say. Which isn’t to say they don’t want something new. They want to see it peeled back. To find out there was a layer underneath all this time they didn’t know about” - The Joker

The Joker has made his glorious return to Gotham City, and like so many times before he has a plan to take down the Batman. Batman #95 opens with a flashback to Batman’s first encounter with The Joker, as he discusses with Alfred what the madman’s motivation could be. This opening dialogue sets a great inquisitive and eerie tension that builds through the whole issue. Hopefully throughout each issue of The Joker War (written by James Tynion IV with beautiful, punchy art by Jorge Jimenez) the flashback story will build. After Alfred’s passing last year it is great to see the two characters interacting again.

Back to present day and Joker has unleashed a cunning scheme that feels like it was snatched right out of Christopher Nolan’s bat flicks. Presented in the form of news clips overlaid with the Batmobile fleeing from Joker’s goons, this is certainly a cinematic way of filling the reader in on the buildup to The Joker War. With the help of his new girlfriend, Punchline (Think Harley Quinn, but less cute and jokey and more tough and violent) Joker has stolen all of Bruce Wayne’s money. Punchline certainly fits right in with Batman’s gallery of rogues, she is strong enough to fight toe to toe but smart and deceiving enough to not have to. This leaves Batman not only stripped of many of his resources, but given them all to the Joker. This Joker feels more cold and calculated than zany and unpredictable, which is enjoyable. It gives a feeling of hopelessness that will be intriguing to see Batman overcome. 

The Joker is given a brilliant moment of sinister nuance in Batman #95 that finds him revisiting an iconic location from Batman’s past. What exactly he could have planned is still a mystery, but is a great hook to lead into the rest of the Joker War narrative. The end of this issue does leave the Caped Crusader in a position that isn’t unnecessarily foreign to readers, but it is framed in a unique light. The Joker’s quote at the top of this review is hopefully the perfect frame for The Joker War. We are given the classic match-up that we know and love, Batman vs. Joker, calculated vs. crazy, power vs. unpredictability, that will hopefully reveal nuances, feelings, and emotions that have been in the making for decades. 

-Neil Hazel