Review: Batman #149

“A Good Fantasy”
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Michele Bandini & Steve Lieber
Color Artist: Nick Filardi
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Review by Max Byrne

After the bombast and action of the previous issue, Batman #149 takes a more measured approach with its storytelling. Chip Zdarsky takes his time showing what comes next, detailing the fate of Zur’s twisted clone of Bruce Wayne.

As with all tales Frankenstein’s monster-style tales, this issue certainly has a tragic quality to it that’s heavy on sentiment and at times could even bring a tear to a glass eye.

Such creations are never built to endure and this one’s no exception. As a result of Failsafe’s coding, this wretched clone is not long for this world, despite Bruce’s best efforts to stem the tide and find a way to win. We as readers are so used to always witnessing Batman ultimately prevail, that seeing him come up short of answers in the requisite time really does hit hard.

Indeed, one lingering panel towards the end of this tragic tale highlights everything that Bruce has done in his life up to that point, especially the way in which he’s made a positive impact on the lives of those he loves. Also, I felt that he’d also made more peace with his own mortality and acknowledged that the passage of time cannot be avoided. We all get too old one day and need to prepare the next generation to do better than we did, not prolong our own time at the helm.

This issue has a clear dividing line running through it. After the sad chain of events in the first half of the issue, the second half’s all about starting again, and is also certainly about the options one has when reclaiming $3.1 billion dollars of your lost fortune!

The sense of optimism is tangible, particularly as it’s enhanced by changing the artist at this point. Hats off to both Michele Bandini and Steve Leiber for their stellar work here, as the line in the proverbial sand is made more distinctive. The more cartoonish quality on offer makes the lighter tone work even more, by giving a slightly less serious air to the pages.

Securing a new residence for himself and his family, at least until Vandal Savage is expelled from the city, gives Bruce et al a new sense of direction and unity.

When reading this section, I found myself subconsciously smiling all the way through it. This matches every character on the page too. For a hero who’s always embraced the darkness, this iteration of Bruce has one eye on a bright future. Indeed, a tantalizing reunion with a certain Selina Kyle helps to hint at more happiness to come. However, this is Batman we’re talking about, so heartbreak’s always lurking just around the corner….

Conclusion

Batman #149 is a pivotal issue. It brings down the curtain on the epic struggle with Zur/Failsafe and then sets the table for a new era of optimism in Gotham City. How long this will last remains to be seen, but the Bat Family are more unified than ever. I’ve got a feeling this unity is going to be needed more than ever very soon.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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