Batman #132 from DC Comics digs the Caped Crusader into an even deeper hole while trapped in another dimension. Chip Zdarsky pens both stories in this issue. “The Bat-Man Of Gotham” is illustrated by Mike Hawthorne, with inks by Adriano Di Benedetto and colors by Tomeu Morey. “The Toy Box,” featuring Robin (Tim Drake), is drawn by Miguel Mendoça with colors by Roman Stevens. The ever-faithful Clayton Cowles provides lettering for both.
We know the awesome and cringe robot Failsafe eliminated Batman. Well, it hit him with a raygun that shot Bruce into another dimension, but technically it still offed him. Since then, Bruce has been unhoused, confused, and followed by a new imaginary friend in the form of skeletal Jim Gordon with a mustache. Unfortunately, this universe’s Gotham has no Batman and lives in a Fear State, thanks to Red Mask and Harvey Dent, who run Arkham Asylum. Citizens are doused daily in a hallucinatory gas called Crane Brain, the perfect aperitif for Venom-laced cops to use force and ship Gothamites off to dread Arkham.
As you may have guessed, this world may have no other heroes. So Bruce is down and out. But with help from a young survivor named Jewel, he gets up to speed. The closest thing to a Wayne Enterprises in this universe is one owned by a figure named Halliday, who Bruce intends to see. However, the rich and the suffering are segregated, so Bruce has to get mildly inventive to go from broke to hobnobbing.
I have to say this is an exciting landscape to toss Batman into. I can’t help but wonder if Failsafe sent him to this Earth on purpose to retrain Bruce. But it’s the perfect spot for our tired, older, self-doubting Batman to start over again. This place seriously needs a hero, and honestly, I’d love to see Bruce start anew elsewhere or retire with Selina. It would be an interesting world to watch him fight for.
However, I can’t shake the notion that just popping him into another world is a cop-out. This is a well-used comic book trope. We get a ton of Batman stories with neat twists, but the character himself has little forward progression overall. And placing Bruce here gives us no real closure in his battle with Failsafe, which I suspect will be a story for another time.
The artwork by Hawthorne is compelling and detailed and switches effortlessly from giving us a gruff, fatigued Bruce to a powerful, cleaned-up version. Gotham is wonderfully depicted, as are the many new versions of established characters, and I can’t praise Benedetto’s detailed inks and Morey’s saturations enough. You really get a beautiful continuity of panels here that Cowles skillfully knits together with artful balloons.
In the second part of Batman #132, “The Toy Box,” Tim Drake/Robin has not slept since his adopted father’s demise at the hands of Failsafe. After finding out the gun that did the deed was initially used by the Toyman and contains other-dimensional energies, Tim enlists Mr. Terrific’s help to traverse the Multiverse to find Batman. However, he falls into his dimensional kerfuffle and will have to learn the ropes to survive. I love that they put this story forward since Tim wouldn’t rest on his laurels. He’d want closure.
Mendoça’s art is as bright and sharp as Stevens’ colors. This fits neatly between Hawthorne’s style and the old Young Justice series. Cowles delivers the goods on the letters, and Robin is a dedicated hero who gets a whiff of a personal subplot and a few odds and ends before he jumps into the multiversal miasma. Overall, this is a great story I’m looking forward to seeing go on. But, much like “The Bat-Man Of Gotham,” it still leaves me wondering about Failsafe.
This is an excellent comic with two tales about adapting to strange environments. My one gripe is Batman may have to learn a lesson, which means the Failsafe storyline was really just put on hold. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this issue because the stories, art, colors, and words are expertly crafted. Let’s see how the new Gotham changes Bruce and how another world alters the Boy Wonder.
Batman #132 is an excellent comic with two tales about adapting to strange environments. My one gripe is Batman may have to learn a lesson, which means the Failsafe storyline was really just put on hold.