Batman #138 is published by DC Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Jorge Jimenez, colors by Tomeu Morey, and letters by Clayton Cowles. This is part 4 of the Gotham War. With Jason Todd kidnapped by Batman, the other Robins hunt him down.
This issue shows further devolution of the Bat Family, with some of the most dramatic decisions of the Gotham War so far. The tone has got much darker, much more fractious. It does not take long for a fight to break out, and there is a brilliant escalation throughout the issue. The main plot of the issue is what’s happening with Batman, with his actions worsening. There is a constant intensity, magnifying as actions get more drastic. The fight starts as just between two people but gradually increases. Each issue of this crossover has had massive consequences, and Batman #138 has the greatest so far. The ending is brutal and devastating. And alongside that main plot, there are other plots by the true villains of Gotham City that are going unnoticed because the heroes are fighting themselves.
The characters in this issue are phenomenal. The core cast is a classic selection: Batman and the four Robins, with Catwoman and Oracle in support. This allows for very personal conversations to happen between all of the family. What has become evident in the last few issues is that something clearly isn’t right with Batman. The concept of his backup personality creates a real danger and imperfection to a character who is known for his control. There is a snarl to how he speaks to people, even more so than usual, and a lack of being able to listen. He’s doing things that would be ethically unfathomable.
From each of the Robins comes a different response, highlighting the personalities of the men and how they have all been raised by Bruce. What is annoying is how much emphasis is placed on the peace that Selina’s plan had generated, with the only protestation around it coming from the compromised Batman. There are moral flaws to it that others should question, but Catwoman’s viewpoint is presented as the only good option.
The art is magnificent. Jimeneze superbly makes all of the characters look rough. They’re bedraggled and tired, recovering from injuries, too. Where the art excels most within Batman #138 is the action. It’s extended, occurring over much of the pages. Those fighting have been trained by the same person, but they are all unique, and that comes across in how they move. The variety in costume is also brilliant at capturing those differences. But at the same time, the Domino masks denote that familial connection. The frightening change in Batman’s mind is visible in his face at points, making him terrifying. The injuries are painful and nasty, signaling a change in how far the vigilantes are willing to go against one another. It is the immaculate facial expressions that make the end of the comic so viciously heartbreaking.
The colors are also fantastic. The standout character in this regard is Nightwing. Even in shadows, his silhouette will be light blue, or his domino mask will be visible in its standard shade. It is fascinating to see how the Robins have diversified in their looks, especially in colors. The only one who carries the signature palette of green, red, and gold is Tim. The lighting alternates in shade but is always stunning, particularly with the neon glow when the characters are above the buildings. The lettering is a strange font and might be difficult to read for some.
Batman #138 is a sign of something significant. As the Gotham War kicked off, the bond that all of the participating Bat Family had for one another still held strong. Or at least strong enough for certain moves to be off the table. But now, actions are being taken that cross lines, which might mean there is no going back. The reasons they are fighting may not always stand up to scrutiny, but the pain they feel remains palpable. The action is brilliant and exhilarating, but it’s an emotive comic as well. And whilst the heroes are busy scrapping in the light, far too many villains lurk in the shadows.
Batman #138 is available where comics are sold.
Batman #138 is a sign of something significant. Now, actions are being taken that cross lines, which might mean there is no going back. And whilst the heroes are busy scrapping in the light, far too many villains lurk in the shadows.