THIS WEEK: Batman #148 feels like the conclusion to nearly two years of storytelling. Plus, we have our usual round-up of blurbs about other DC books this week!

Batman #148Batman #148

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

It’s been a long road to this week’s Batman #148. It’s billed as the ending to the latest Batman story arc, Dark Prisons, but in reality, it feels like the culmination of a much larger story that started all the way back in Batman #125, when writer Chip Zdarsky joined artist Jorge Jimenez for the current run on the flagship Batman title. It was in that issue that we first saw Failsafe, the villain that has tormented the Bat-Family for nearly two years in off-page time now, and the villain that (surprise surprise) they finally best here.

If you’re reading this but somehow aren’t familiar with Failsafe (I don’t want to stop you, but that’s weird man…), Failsafe is an android Batman that was created by Batman in the advent that he himself needs to be taken down. From the start, I’ve felt like it’s a bit of a play on the classic JLA story Tower of Babel, in which it’s revealed Batman has planned for the advent that all his teammates go rogue.

It also connects back into prior continuity, in that in order to build a robot that Batman was not intimately familiar with, he activated his Zur-En-Arrh personality and had the existence of the robot wiped from his own memory after. It connects back to other continuity in a couple of other ways too. It is roused here after Batman is framed for murdering The Penguin (who was not murdered at all) and is not stopped because doing so was Alfred Pennyworth’s job (and Alfred died during City of Bane). 

Batman #148

I rehash all that because all these issues later, I still really appreciate the way this run has woven everything into Batman’s past stories in ways that make sense and feel additive. It struck me as well that even though the Bat-Family is pulling together to defeat Failsafe here, the villain is still going to be liable to return in future storytelling. It’s tough to tell now, but Failsafe could be the most significant addition to Batman’s rogues gallery since the Court of Owls (which was somehow like a decade ago now…oh god…oh god…where has the time gone and what have I been doing with my life — but I digress).

So, that’s really cool. On top of that, I think this entire 23-issue stretch (plus some extra) has been really suspenseful. This is action-heavy Batman, filled with great visual set pieces. In some ways, it almost feels more accurate to call this James Tynion through Chip Zdarsky-penned Batman era, the Jorge Jimenez run, because it’s been his visuals and aesthetic that to me has put the biggest creative stamp on these stories.

Batman #148

Jimenez is an incredible superhero artist, with spectacular moments in any issue he draws, and he’s an artist that I think we maybe take for granted a bit. But this issue — like many that have come before it — is littered with stylish renditions of iconic characters in between great high-action suspense-heavy sequences. It’s great stuff, and it’s nice to have a flagship comic series with art that is this great and this consistent. It’s like a big budget Hollywood movie that looks the part. And Tomeu Morey has been the very-welcome consistent visual element for this book going all the way back to the DC Rebirth debut.

There are other Batman comics in the DC line right now doing other interesting things with the characters, experimenting (The Boy Wonder) or looking backward (The Bat-Man First Knight) or trying to find new angles for the character (Batman Off World). This flagship run seems determined to give us something familiar but incredibly well done, and that’s just fine by me. You mostly know what to expect and enjoy it all the same.

The ideas — outside of playing with continuity in the aforementioned interesting ways — are mostly things we’ve seen before. Bruce grappling with his instincts, family togetherness, etc. There’s some good Batman-Robin (Tim), Robin and Robin moments. All in all, I think it’s an entertaining finale. I’m not sure how memorable this bigger story will be, but it was interesting enough. And more importantly, it makes me curious about/excited for what this title has coming next, now that Failsafe is about to be behind us.

Verdict: BUY

The Round-Up

  • I sometimes skip reprinted material in this space, but I made an exception for DC Pride – A Celebration of Rachel Pollack, and I’m very glad that I did. Pollack passed away about a year ago, leaving a tremendous legacy as a writer. She was also the first trans writer to work within mainstream comics. In this new book, Stuart Moore, who edited Pollack, writes a really great introduction that does a nice job describing what made her work so great as well as contextualizing it within the comics industry. The reprinted stories are also a great selection from Pollack’s time at DC, opening an issue from her post-Morrison Doom Patrol run, which features the debut of Coagula, DC’s first trans hero. From there, it goes on to the Michael Allred-illustrated story featuring The Geek, which has been very hard to find for a good while, and it concludes with a new story that features Coagula, written by Joe Corallo, illustrated by Rye Hickman, and lettered by John Workman. It’s just a fantastic read start to finish, that will remind you why you love Pollacks work or inspire you to seek more out.  
  • Are you reading Juni Ba’s The Boy Wonder? You really ought to be reading The Boy Wonder. Written and illustrated by Ba with colors by Chris O’Halloran and letters by Aditya Bidikar, this book is just an absolute joy. It’s kinetic and stylish like all of Ba’s work, with a really engrossing take on the individual Robin characters, integrated organically into a story that kind of taps Damian Wayne as a framing device, at least through its first two issues. Every page of this book is interesting and vibrant, and it’s really one of the absolute must-read comics of the moment.
  • Finally, My Adventures With Superman #1 — like the television show it’s based on — is an absolute delight. Writer Josie Campbell really captures the dialouge and humor of the show with her script, while the team of artist Pablo M. Collar, colorist Nick Filardi, and letterer Lucas Gattoni team up on page after page that feels right at home with the aesthetic and animation of the show. My Adventures With Superman has been a wonderful adaptation that captures what’s to love about these characters while also providing something new of interest — and this week’s comic does the same.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!