Batman #107 checks in on a “maybe not so rich” Batman battling both a mystery involving the Scarecrow, some gang of randos, and the threat of the Gotham City Police Department weaponized against him by the newly-elected, vigilante-hating mayor Christopher Nakano. Barbara Gordon proves she remains a better problem solver from behind a keyboard than she does swinging on rooftops, and Harley Quinn has a weird interaction with Gotham’s newest costumed crimefighter. Virtually none of that is at all interesting, which somehow makes the dazzling backup feature, where we will spend most of this review, shine all the brighter.
Quickly, sure, Jorge Jiminez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles make the shadowy streets of Gotham as stylish and ridiculous as, well, an average episode of Gotham, which a kind of dynamic presentation for the people herein. That’s fine. The actual plot, Batman doing a lower rent impersonation of himself, it’s not too far from stuff that’s been done a million times. The idea of the scion of wealth suddenly facing down the gun barrels of the police makes him no more relatable as perhaps he doesn’t grasp how even the city turns against his brand of justice.
Forget about all that. None of that matters now that we finally, finally, see Ghost-Maker show up and be somebody. In ten pages, this James Tynion the 4th script is more inventive, more adventurous, bolder, and most importantly, more fun than anything that’s even brushed past Gotham City in years. With queer-friendly James Bond vibes (he opens having left a man and a woman in bed before halo dropping into an impossible situation), this has all the excitement from when Dick Grayson was an agent of SPYRAL in half the page count. The monologues, the clever tie-ins to continuity, the fun new villains … this is amazingly creative, with panache that toys with cliches but never lets them take the wheel. Imagine The Blacklist mashed up with ABC’s Alias with a dash of Machete (and maybe even a hint of Batman ’66 in terms of panache), and you might get a taste for what happened here.
There are weird things here. Instead of Alfred, Ghost-Maker has an artificial intelligence called Icon … which might cause some confusion with both Dr. Ikon and the Milestone hero who’s bounced around the DCU a bit. There’s another familiar name here that has no (apparent) legacy connection to the last two dudes who used the name, which may have some deeper meaning or may just have been an “oops” moment.” The key antagonist for this short, despite some FIREdialogue, is not too ideologically far from a Marvel one who faced off against Marvel Boy, down to the firearm. These aren’t big enough challenges to stop the ride on this train of fun.
It should be noted that Ghost-Maker pops up in the main story, away from Batman, and he’s even super interesting there.
In a perfect world, this backup would have been the first we saw of Ghost-Maker, not that weepy puppy dog frenemies act with Bruce Wayne. Alas, as it is, this may not be enough for the price of admission, but maybe it can keep the science-fiction adventure going next time … and maybe steal some of the page count from the dollar-conscious and dour Dark Knight. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.
By James Tynion the Fourth, Jorge Jiminez, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz
Tensions are sky-high in Gotham City following the attack on Arkham Asylum, and public opinion and unrest are starting to boil over. The Dark Knight has his hands full juggling the investigation of the reappearance of an old enemy and the rise of a new gang in Gotham called the Unsanity Collective … Gotham City is getting more dangerous by the minute! Plus, in part one of “Legend of the Ghost-Maker,” James Tynion IV and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz tell the most insane tale of action and adventure featuring Batman’s frenemy Ghost-Maker! This one is not to be missed!