“Mind Bomb” – Part One
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Jorge Jimenez & Jorge Corona
Color Artists: Tomeu Morey & Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne
Batman #139 marks the transition from the “Gotham War” saga into a new arc, “Mind Bomb”.
After a story line that contained a near fatal cataclysm, Zdarsky could have been forgiven for moving into a more restrained arc, perhaps something with a more methodical pace. Nope. not this writer… instead, he’s come flying out of the gate here with an issue that moves forward at a breakneck pace, incorporating the return of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker.
Setting the action several weeks after the events of the aforementioned Gotham War saga is a wise move, as it allows the reader to see the new status quo for the Dark Knight. Cut off from all of his protegees, he is very much now a lone crusader, and using a new alias, that of a dockworker named Lenny, operating out of a humble apartment (now that Wayne Manor has fallen into more Savage hands).
This is quite an effective plot device, as it brings our hero back to street level, back amongst the criminal element that he swore to eradicate. Stripped of all grandeur and outlandish toys, this is a more relatable Batman than we may have seen in recent years. Although, has his robotic hand been miraculously retconned out of existence? It’s somewhat hard to tell in this issue.
As with all the best Bat/Joker confrontations, this issue involves a mysterious plot from the Clown Prince of Crime that seems to involve a trip down memory lane. This particular odyssey relates to the learning journey that a young Bruce Wayne undertook, traversing the world in search of the knowledge and skills that would help him to become the Caped Crusader. This is a Joker that knows who Batman really is and who helped to form his skillset. Of course, there’s nothing more dangerous than a well-informed Joker and this is a villain that has a method behind his obvious madness.
The art from Jorge Jimenez is top drawer yet again. With the Joker as the main villain, the tone of the book immediately becomes more macabre and ghoulish than we’ve seen in recent months, this allows Jimenez to create some truly devilish imagery within these pages. Gruesome crime scenes, some disturbing panels involving toy dolls and hellish tableau scenes that will live long in the memory.
Whilst it may be horrific enough that the Joker knows so much about Batman’s innermost secrets, the revelation behind his true motivation is off the scale. No spoilers here, but willingly releasing a part of Batman’s psyche that would be better under lock and key is going to cause havoc over the coming months. Seemingly free of his mental restraints, this persona’s going to unleash a new version of Batman that will cause irreparable damage.
We also get a nice bonus story from Zdarsky that allows readers to see what’s become of Vandal Savage post “Gotham War”. Last seen with his fate in question, the former caveman has a new lease on life, but one that comes with a strict price and set of rules. Positioning him in Gotham City for the foreseeable future and with Wayne Manor still his primary residence, one can only imagine what he may get up to!
Batman #139 is a great jumping on point into a new saga that sets the stage for some unbridled carnage to come. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to where it goes next. I only wish we didn’t have to wait a whole month between issues.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment