Review: Batman #146

“Dark Prisons” – Part Two
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Jorge Jimenez & Michele Bandini
Color Artists: Tomeu Morey & Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne

Batman #146 is a captivating issue that really pulls back the curtain on the long game plan that the nefarious Daniel Captio has been playing all this time.

A truly cerebral villain, Zdarsky has created a character that left his fingerprints over the entire career of Batman and Joker. This is explained in the prologue story on offer here, where Captio finally smartens Bruce up to everything that has been going on down the years, with an emphasis on the ammunition he has provided Joker with that enabled him to always appear one step ahead of our hero.

I’ve always been a fan of stories that delve back into the past events from DC lore, and here we get several callbacks that reveal that a selection of landmark moments from down the years have been orchestrated from afar by Captio. Despite appearing to be Bruce’s altruistic mentor, his status as a “detached, narcissistic nihilist” has shown that he has played The Dark Knight and The Clown Prince off against each other, all for his own purpose of gaining power alongside Zur-En-Arrh.

What an amazing creative choice, it does change the status quo of the relationship between Batman and Joker but also stacks the deck massively now in the battle that now ensues for control of the city.

Zur/Failsafe has been a busy boy indeed, conscripting Damian Wayne as a willing sidekick in his take-no-prisoners approach to crimefighting. I must confess that the seemingly blind faith that Damian has in this abomination being the downloaded consciousness of his father seems a bit naive on his part, but I suppose the skull-cracking methodology must be appealing to the character. I hope that his discovery in the Batcave leads him to question things more, moving forward.

An exchange between Superman and Failsafe/Zur is a particular highlight, too. A very wary Clark, desperate to believe in the situation but still questioning exactly what he sees is a great exchange.

One burning question that I’ve always had down the years, is why the superpowered members of the JLA often don’t get involved when Gotham finds itself in dire straits. By having Superman show up to run an eye over the situation is a cool plot device as it shows they are out there, keeping watch from afar. Whether this will lead to more involvement remains to be seen.

The art is a treat throughout Batman #146. The main body of the issue is handled by Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey, who bring their expected level of brilliance throughout. The aforementioned prologue story also features some magnificent artwork from Michele Bandini and Alex Sinclair. One particularly excellent panel depicts Batman/Joker as two halves of the same face, one stoic and one maniacal. The accompanying text sums up the two characters perfectly.

The two of you are the most dangerous men on the planet. Everyone lives because you simply haven’t decided to kill them.

No spoilers here, but the conclusion of this issue is extremely intriguing stuff. Taking a key player off the board, albeit temporarily, sets up some interesting possibilities. Is he due to come back with reinforcements, or will he come back rested and refocused with a master plan in place?

Conclusion

Batman #146 is gripping from start to finish. It adds layers of intrigue both in the present day and in an historical sense, too. Explosive and potentially catastrophic events are in the pipeline, and this tees everything up perfectly for what’s bound to follow.

The next few months are going to change the game exponentially and I’m all in. Roll on next month!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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