James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez have been on an absolute roll with their work on “Joker War.” While not perfect this story has brought the goods when it comes to the big conflict between Batman and Joker. This war has only gotten more intense as Gotham City has fallen completely apart thanks to all the plans that Joker has been able to execute thus far. Now that the Batman Family reunited in the previous issue does the Dark Knight have all he needs to save Gotham City? Or will the Clown Prince of Crime continue his reign of terror? Let’s find out with the finale of “Joker War” in Batman #100.
Writers: James Tynion IV
Artists: Jorge Jimenez (Joker War Finale); Carlo Pagulayan (Intervention Back-Up); Guillem March (Dead Ringer)
Inkers: Danny Miki (Intervention Back-Up)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Upon reaching The Clock Tower in Burnside, Barbara Gordon switches from Batgirl to being Oracle and announces to the Gotham City residents that the Batman Family is back to save the city and they can be contact them if they are in danger. As she makes this announcement Signal, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, Red Hood, and Robin (Tim Drake) are seen saving people and fighting off Joker’s gang across Gotham City.
Elsewhere, a GCPD officer tells Commissioner Harvey Bullock that Mayor Dunch wants Oracle to be shut down. After thinking what Jim Gordon would do, Commissioner Bullock destroys the phone to the Mayor’s office. He proceeds to tell all of the GCPD that he is planning to stand with Oracle and asks if the other officers will do the right thing with him.
In another part of the city, while fighting Joker’s gang, Nightwing tells Oracle that it is good to hear her in his ear again. Nightwing then asks if Oracle has heard from Batman. Oracle says she has not.
Over at Ace Chemicals, Batman is able to dodge Joker’s gun fire while also tackling Alfred’s Jokerized corpse away. Joker (who is in in altered chrome Batman suit) throws batarangs to cause an explosion right behind Batman, hitting Batman with toxic chemicals in the process.
Batman is able to get some distance between himself and Joker which he uses to try to contact Oracle to request back-up. Joker reveals that he was able to cut the communication between Batman and his allies.
As Joker continues to mock him Batman has had enough and fights back. Joker is able to recover and get the advantage enough to start pushing Batman towards falling into a vat of toxic. Joker decides to continue mocking Batman first.
This gives Batman the chance to use a device to turn off the lights around them. Batman then uses the opening to punch Joker so hard it destroy Joker’s Batman cowl and fall to the ground. After hitting the floor Joker counters by causing another explosion in the building.
Over at Joker’s penthouse, Punchline gets pissed off when she is unable to contact anyone. The Underbroker suddenly appears and announces that his partnership with Joker and Punchline is over as all their money is gone. Underbroker then leaves as Punchline gets even angrier.
Punchline calls Joker to tell him what happened and that she knows what to do next.
Nightwing suddenly appears and tells Punchline it is time for her to go to prison. Punchline immediately attacks Nightwing. Nightwing is able to easily block all of Punchline’s attacks and counter with a strike to her chin.
Joker’s gang suddenly appear giving Punchline the confidence that the odds have changed. Nightwing says she is right as Spoiler, Red Hood, Robin, Orphan, and Signal appear right behind him.
As the Batman Family fight Punchline and Joker’s gang Oracle contacts Nightwing to tell him to end the fight quick. She goes on to say that she is finding information that Joker and Punchline have lost all the money they stole. Nightwing asks if she knows who it is. Oracle says that they both know who.
Catwoman is then shown viewing the destruction of Gotham City from an unknown rooftop. She pleads with Bruce to end things.
Over at Ace Chemicals, Oracle is finally able to communicate with Batman, who digs himself and Alfred’s corpse out of the rubble that fell on them from the explosion Joker caused. Oracle provides an update on how the Batman Family has been successful in their work so all Batman needs to do is take down Joker.
Batman yells out to Joker that his family has taken back Gotham City and that the war is not happening. Joker suddenly appears behind Batman and says that Batman already missed the war because he won. Joker then stabs Batman as he proclaims that the current setting they are in is the aftermath of the war as the Batman Family is just picking up the debris from the new Gotham City.
Joker takes of his Batman suit while explain that everything that has happened with the movie theaters and the rest of his plan now was just to get under Batman’s skin because his Gotham City is gone.
Joker then mocks the dream city that Batman probably wanted to have before retiring that will never happen. Joker goes on to say what ever Batman’s vision was that it would never have happened anyways because Gotham City didn’t want it. He goes on to talk about how corrupt Gotham City has always been.
Batman finally has enough and kicks Joker to the side. Joker immediately recovers and rushes Batman to pin him down. Joker continues his mockery of Batman being a silly kids dream and that is the reason he never bothered with revealing to the world Bruce Wayne was Batman.
As Joker laughs at Batman he is suddenly shot in the eye by a shotgun fired by Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn proceeds to handcuff Joker to a poll. She then tells Batman that it is time for him to make a decision as she takes out two bombs with timers. Harley Quinn tapes a bomb to herself and the other to Joker.
Batman says he was close to taking Joker in and having him locked up. Harley Quinn says that is not true and makes Batman the choice of either saving her or Joker. She then runs off as she turns on the timer to both bombs.
Joker says he knows that Batman will save him because he is not going to risk letting someone dying. Batman proves Joker wrong as he goes after Harley Quinn.
Joker is left stunned. Alfred’s Jokerized corpse appears and starts laughing at Joker. Joker screams for Alfred’s corpse to shut up just as an explosion completely destroys Ace Chemicals.
One week later Harley Quinn wakes up in a hospital bed with Batman standing next to her. Batman lets her know what happened and how he found the bomb attached to Joker on the ground with no sign of his body. Harley Quinn knows that means Joker has gone back to hiding until he is ready to put his next plans into motion.
Batman admits that Gotham City is a different place as the sun rises. Harley Quinn admits herself she is relieved that the people are safe thanks to Batman’s help.
Batman then says that he is glad Harley Quinn is doing well. He goes on to say earlier that day he had to bury his father again with his family by his side. Batman then talks about how Alfred told him that a fight with Joker is a fight with death itself and that fighting is living continuing on. Batman ends by saying he is ready to fight and become a better Batman.
Elsewhere, someone going by the name of the Ghost-Maker is looking over a digital plan of Gotham City. He calls out Bruce for the mess he has made and that the truce they had is now over. End of main story.
The Good: Now that is how you end a big story that builds a foundation for an entire comic book line’s future. Batman #100 did everything you want as James Tynion maximized the page count of this oversized issue.
At its core “Joker War” was all about the battle between Batman and Joker. Tynion did not stray away from that as the big final battle was just between them until the end. Keeping the fight with Joker having the upperhand throughout was the right choice. It spoke to how throughout “Joker War” that Batman has been unprepared for everything that was thrown his way. Even when it did look like the momentum was swaying his direction Joker had a weapon or explosion ready to knock Batman back down.
Joker talking down to Batman and how his mission was nothing more than a child’s fantasy added to how this entire story turned out. The mocking hit home and you could tell it added to why Batman was so off his game throughout the fight. There is a part of Batman that knows Joker was using truth within his mocking.
Which made the role that Harley Quinn played in all of this much more effective. As she said in Batman #99, Harley Quinn knows how Joker works and has seen how Batman has defeated him in the past. Because of that experience Harley Quinn knew that Batman would not have it in him to end Joker no matter how far the Clown Prince of Crime went. Harley Quinn used that fact and how Batman would not live with himself if he allowed her to die over Joker was smart. It opened Batman’s eyes to what needed to be done in this instance.
The fact that it was this choice by Batman, to save Harley Quinn rather than him, that actually broke Joker was interesting to see. Tynion played it all well as this was really the first time in “Joker War” that we saw the villain actually not sound supremely confident. You get from how he yelled at both Batman to come back and Alfred’s corpse to stop laughing that Joker did not plan on this.
What’ll be interesting from here is if Joker does truly go underground for a while like Harley Quinn stated he would. That could all come down to whatever contingency plan that Joker and Punchline put together. Based on Punchline’s dialogue when calling Joker about how things ended it does seem they knew they would lose this battle.
Which all creates an intriguing position for how Punchline will be developed moving forward. The way Punchline spoke when talking as Alexis Kaye was very convincing. She sounded like someone who understood that she was completely mesmerized by Joker after what she went through and followed him like a cult leader. But given her earlier dialogue about going to Plan B you do have to wonder if this is all part of the plan Punchline came up with Joker. That all builds immediate investment in the upcoming Punchline one-shot that is sure to clarify on this development and where she will stand in the future.
All that said, this is Batman #100 and when all is said and done it looks like Bruce Wayne and the Batman Family have all been changed by the events of “Joker War.” As stated earlier, this entire “Joker War” has been an eye opening experience for Batman that he does indeed need to become a better Batman. But to do that he cannot force it like has been doing since the end of “City of Bane.” Up to this point Bruce has not been himself as Batman. Instead he has been trying to shape Batman and Gotham City into an ideal city to honor Alfred Pennyworth. In doing so he went away what made it possible for him to develop as Batman and keep up with the ever evolving threats that appeared.
Given all of that it’ll be very interesting to see what Bruce means by becoming a better Batman now. Tynion seems to be moving the entire Batman franchise into a Neo Gotham direction. With Gotham City destroyed from both a structure and governmental-level there is a lot of work ahead. Bruce seems to recognize this which could lead the entire Batman Family to have a different relationship with different parts of Gotham City.
One of those that will likely be different is the GCPD. Commissioner Harvey Bullock choosing to assist Oracle came across as a major decision in the power structure of Gotham City. Based on how Mayor Dunch wanted the opposite to happen there may not only a vacancy of Commissioner of the GCPD but the entire police department could face big shake ups. Which all gives the Batman Family another major thing to deal as they try to help Gotham City recover from “Joker War.”
Speaking of the Batman Family, it was absolutely refreshing to see Nightwing, Signal, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, Red Hood, and Robin all fighting together to save Gotham City with Oracle leading them from the Clock Tower. Seeing all of them fighting to save Gotham City brought chills. Tynion played it so well as the entire opening sequence felt like a reunion that brought hope to the city again. Seeing them all work as a singular unit was great as we do see how when they are all on their game no one can match them in a fight.
Nightwing’s return was a major highlight in all of this. Tynion continued to show how Dick Grayson’s return and reclaiming the Nightwing identity is a big deal. He came across as the leader fans remember. And how he easily defeated Punchline, who was previously shown to give Batman problems in a fight, was the right showcase to get over how he is back in action.
But as good as Nightwing’s return was executed the star of the show was Barbara Gordon, who returned to being Oracle. The speech Barbara made as Oracle as she announced the return of the Batman Family to all of Gotham City was awesome. The right words were chosen throughout all of this to show how great Barbara is at taking command of the situation even when she is not in the field. Hopefully we see more of this as Barbara can be just as effective as Oracle as she is in the field when in action as Batgirl.
With so much built up throughout Batman #100 Tynion did a good job using the epilogue of “Joker War” to further build on the future by introducing Ghost-Maker. Immediately establishing that Ghost-Maker knows Bruce Wayne is Batman because he trained with Bruce during his time training was a smart move. There is always a lot of potential in exploring the period when Bruce was training to become Batman. Especially now, we haven’t seen that explored much in the last decade. This is a good opportunity to modernize some of Bruce’s pre-Batman days and add cool new elements like Ghost-Maker.
Similarly, it was good to see that Batman did not waste time in addressing Clownhunter’s role in “Joker War.” While Clownhunter did not play a big role in how things ended it is clear he made an impact that reached Batman. The fact that rather than offering to bring him under his wing as a protégé and instead provide resources for Clownhunter to deal with his struggles was an intriguing choice. This showed that Batman knows that he is not in position to mentor a young kid.
This sets up for Clownhunter to have an even bigger arc as he has already been set up to be an outsider. Clownhunter clearly knows this with how he took the way Batman tried to help as a message that he is truly on his own. With Joker and Punchline likely not being up front with their plans there is now the question what Clownhunter plans to do with his mission that is based around his hate for Joker.
Batman #100 did a great job handling the oversized page count by assigning Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, and Guillem March specific stories rather than pages throughout this issue. This allowed each one of them to shine as they were able to focus on stories with specific set characters. It also made it so they didn’t have to adjust their respective styles to match one another. Which actually made it so there own styles shine more while maintaining a consistent look for all of Batman #100.
Of course Jimenez knocked it out of the park with his work on the main “Joker War” story that took up the majority of Batman #100. Throughout this event Jimenez’s artwork got better and better. This was no exception as he got over how big this finale was. The various double page spreads had the impact you expect, as shown with how he got over how the Batman Family taking care of business during Oracle’s announcement. He also got over how emotional the entire battle between Batman and Joker was. The toll that “Joker War” took was really felt in those final pages that involved Batman and Harley Quinn’s conversation.
Pagulayan did an equally good job giving a serious tone to the back-and-forth that Batman had with Clownhunter. He got across how Batman was trying to help Clownhunter out by talking to him rather than down. It was made even more effective with how Pagulayan drew how Clownhunter got more confident in how he spoke when he put on his helmet.
Finally, March got over Punchline’s emotional speech through his artwork alone. The way Punchline reaction was shown in each panel as she broke down made all of her dialogue come across as sincere. That all made the way Joker was revealed to know what Punchline was talking about work better as a reveal that was telegraphed.
The Bad: The one spot where Batman #100 did not work was with the sub-plot involving Catwoman and the Underbroker. This sub-plot was clearly such an afterthought in “Joker War” that we didn’t even get two full pages dedicated to it. The way both Catwoman and Underbroker’s appearances were handled came across as unnecessary to how the story ended up. You could easily not have those scenes and everything would’ve gone down the same.
Which does show that there was one to many sub-plots going on in “Joker War” that a major part of what was going on like what was going on with the funds Joker stole from Wayne Enterprise didn’t really factor in. That is a huge shame because seeing Catwoman leading Penguin and Riddler to steal all of the Wayne Family fortune along with all the other funds Underbroker’s crew had should’ve been a big moment. And even with the extra page count we just never saw that actually happen. Which just speaks to the fact that there as not enough build up to properly tell this sub-plot without interfering with the main story.
Overall: Batman #100 was the explosive ending that the entire “Joker War” has been building up to. James Tynion did a fantastic job using the entire Batman Family to make this ending bigger. The way the final fight between Batman and Joker turned out effectively set the stage for a future filled with possibilities for the entire franchise. The artwork by Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, and Guillem March made this ending even more impactful as all their excellent work elevated Tynion’s writing.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.