Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Guillem March, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Carlos D’Anda, Ryan Benjamin, Bengal, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Christian Duce, James Stokoe, and Riley Rossmo
Color Artists: Tomeu Morey, David Baron, James Stokoe, and Ivan Plascencia
Letterers: Clayton Cowles, and AndWorld Design
Cover Artists: Guillem March, Jorge Jimenez, Derrick Chew, Andy Kubert, Francesco Mattina, and InHyuk Lee
Cover Color Artists: Tomeu Morey, and Brad Anderson
Review by Steve J. Ray
Batman: Ghost Stories is the third book collecting James Tynion IV’s excellent run on the Batman ongoing monthly series. This beautiful hardcover edition brings together Batman #101-#105, Batman Annual #5 (2020), and a special story from the landmark Detective Comics #1027.
A new day dawns in Gotham, and the horrors of “The Joker War” are just being realized. A bold new direction for Batman begins as Bruce Wayne’s circumstances are forever altered. Batman and the city he loves have changed dramatically following the events of “The Joker War,” but Batman and his mission are eternal.
Now, the mysterious vigilante known as Ghost-Maker appears. This is a man who’s known Bruce since they were teenagers, having trained with him in his formative years. The trouble is, he feels that Batman’s mission is failing, and he’s made his decision… it’s time Gotham City had a new protector.
Batman and Ghost-Maker go toe-to-toe to decide which of them will remain Gotham City’s guardian.
Ghost Of The Past
Batman: Ghost Stories does a great job of introducing a person who’s clearly important to Batman, and someone who was there during the Dark Knight’s years training abroad, in a believable way. If this was Bruce Wayne’s best friend and someone as skilled and capable as he is, why have we never heard of him before? James Tynion masterfully writes the character into the Dark Knight’s canon using Nightwing and Oracle. The best part is that it’s done in a way that makes perfect sense.
Ghost-Maker is a credible threat, but he’s also someone Batman cares about. This all brings a level of depth to the character rarely seen in an all-new creation. If James Tynion’s run on this series did one thing, it was to introduce some stellar new characters to the Batman mythos: Punchline, Ghost-Maker, Clownhunter, Miracle Molly, and The Gardner.
Hauntingly Gorgeous Art
Batman: Ghost Stories contains great art from stellar talents. While I did miss Jorge Jimenez’s work on the interiors, he still provided some beautiful covers – all of which are collected. David Baron and Tomeu Morey also did wonderful work by making the various art teams’ styles feel cohesive throughout the book, as well as by making flashbacks feel distinct from the scenes set in the present. Clayton Cowles’ letters are also absolutely brilliant. His design aesthetic and use of captions and titles are always perfect.
The two closing tales in the book were good inclusions, particularly the annual. While it differs radically from the five chapters that precede it, we needed to have Clownhunters origin in this collection. The character’s growth feels all the more valid once we see his beginnings. James Stokoe’s scratchy cartoony style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel that it helped draw a line between the five-part main story that preceded it and was a nice bridge to the, also very unique, Riley Rossmo illustrated piece that followed.
What I love about the two standalone tales is how much they honor Batman’s incredible history, yet tell brand new stories. It’s clear that James Tynion IV is as huge a Denny O’Neil fan as I am because he quotes the classic Detective Comics #457, and also brings us a great Deadman story too. Boston Brand was a recurring character throughout Denny’s tenure as writer on the Batman books of the 1970s.
I thoroughly enjoyed Batman: Ghost Stories, as it delivered a great change of pace after the nerve-shredding ” Joker War”. Clownhunter got a satisfying origin and Batman gained one of his greatest “Frenemies” in Ghost-Maker.
Tynion’s tenure on Batman has come to a close, but the stories he wrote, both on the main title and on his stellar Detective Comics run, will always remain firm favorites.
Review Copy Courtesy of Penguin Random House. Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment