THIS WEEK: The Bat-Family rebuilds and resets in Batman #149.

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

Batman #149

Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Michele Bandini & Steve Lieber
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Jorge Jiménez

Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jiménez have been the creative team on DC’s ongoing Batman series for almost exactly two years now, and since they came onto the title they’ve largely been telling one story. It began with the introduction of Failsafe, an unstoppable robot designed by Bruce’s alternate personality, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, to put an end to Batman should he ever cross the line. This story precipitated the return of Zur as a competing force in (and for) Bruce’s life, fractures within the Bat-family as a result of Zur’s influence, and ultimately Zur’s transference into the robot Failsafe. The recently-wrapped “Dark Prisons” storyline saw Bruce defeat Zursafe (Failzur?), as well as the old mentor of his who trained him to create an alternate personality in the first place. All that’s left now is the picking up the pieces, and Batman #149, on which Zdarsky is joined by guest artists Michele Bandini and Steve Lieber, expands upon an interesting thread from that storyline – that of the Robin of Zur-En-Arrh – for a one-off story that’s really something special.

Zdarsky has spent the length of his run pitting Bruce against the inhuman parts of being Batman, and stripping him of some of his humanity in the process, whether it’s the schism with the rest of the family or the literal loss of a hand – and secret replacement of said hand with a robotic prosthetic – during an adventure on an alternate Earth. Having defeated the personification of his own inhumanity, Batman #149, “A Good Fantasy,” focuses solely on the things that make Batman human. It’s not gadgets and wealth that make Bruce Wayne a hero (though they certainly help); it’s his compassion, and his refusal to accept defeat. In a run where Bruce has frequently mused on how he’s lost a step and getting older, Zdarsky here has Batman literally face his own mortality as he attempts to care for the now-abandoned Robin of Zur-En-Arrh, a genetically-modified and rapidly-aging clone of Bruce. It’s a powerful conceit, and one that Zdarsky and his artistic collaborators play out exceptionally well.

On the art front, Michele Bandini illustrates the first two-thirds of the issue, while Steve Lieber tackles the final third. Bandini is no stranger to the Dark Knight, having worked with writer Jeff Parker on last year’s delightful Batman/Santa Claus team-up series. This issue features less magical action than that series did, though, and more quiet conversation and introspection. Bandini handles the dialogue-heavy script with aplomb. His characters are emotive and relatable, whether through their facial expression or body language, which reinforces the pathos of the Bruce clone’s situation and the depth of what the real Bruce is going through in trying to save him. Likewise, Lieber, an artist perhaps known to DC readers primarily for humor on books like Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen or One-Star Squadron, brings to life in touching fashion a sequence between Bruce and the Bat-family that visually conveys all the comfort and camaraderie these characters feel toward each other. Colorist Nick Filardi colors both artists’ work, creating a visual unity across the issue, though Bandini and Lieber’s styles are similar enough that you might not even notice the shift when it happens.

Along with tying things up after the end of the ongoing Zur-En-Arrh arc, “A Good Fantasy” goes a long way towards resetting certain elements of Batman and his world that have been out-of-play since even before Zdarsky came onboard the series. That reset feels completely organic to the story Zdarsky has been telling all along, and even the familiar elements that return are tweaked nicely so that they’re not exactly the way they were before. Ongoing superhero comics are all about creating the illusion of change, but knowing the trick is being pulled doesn’t make it any less entertaining, and Zdarsky executes it in a highly effective manner (or should I say ‘manor’).

In addition to being a great epilogue to “Dark Prisons,” Batman #149 is also a really solid jumping-on point for the series, offering readers a nice introduction to Batman and his family that also includes plenty of set-up for new ongoing storylines down the road. Given the role that Failsafe will be playing in Absolute Power it’s unclear how much space those other storylines will get in the series over the next few months as that event kicks into high gear. Wherever the series goes, though, as long as Zdarsky is guiding the ship, Batman remains in highly-capable hands.

Final Verdict: Buy.


  • Titans #12 continues the story of Raven’s rise as the Dark-Winged Queen, and of new character Vanadia’s attack on the Titans. In just two issues writer Tom Taylor has established Vanadia as a fascinating addition to the Titans mythos, and here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of her. Artist Lucas Meyer tells the story nicely, with dynamic action and expressive characters. This storyline is finally heating up, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. 
  • Elsewhere in Tom Taylor comics, Nightwing #115 finds Dick completely at Heartless’s mercy. There still feels like a long way to go from here to that mountain opening from last issue, but Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo have proven themselves more than worthy of readers’ trust on this title. It’s nice to see Dick in over his head for what feels like the first time since Taylor and Redondo took over the series, and this arc is already shaping up to be a nice culmination of everything the team has done over the past three-plus years.
  • It’s Jimmy Olsen to the rescue in Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain‘s Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #28. After the heaviness of the “Heir to the Kingdom” storyline, “Impossible” has been a total blast, and this issue is no exception. Plus Waid gets us as close to a classic Robin/Jimmy team-up as we’re likely to get. So damn fun.

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