The entire Batman Family must pick themselves up as the dust settles after the events of Joker War. To say things have changed in Gotham City would be an understatement. For Bruce Wayne specifically the question still remains if he can be Batman while trying to reclaim what he lost to Joker. That will be a tall task given that Joker literally took everything from Bruce. From his Wayne Family fortune to tools built for his Batman work, Bruce is now has to rebuild everything. Will that be even a possibility after everything that took place in Joker War? Let’s find out with Batman #101.
Writer: James Tynion
Artist: Guillem March
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman meets Catwoman on a rooftop to talk about how Gotham City is no longer the same place during the Dynamic Duo days with Dick Grayson as Robin. He then admits that Joker was right in terms that he has been doing things wrong for a long time now.
One week earlier Batman gets into a fight with Grifter. Just as Grifter gets the upperhand in the fight Lucius Fox appears and tells Grifter to stand down because Batman is his guest. Lucius then reminds Grifter to greet his family well as they will also soon be showing up.
Lucius then takes Batman inside the building while revealing that he hired Grifter to be his bodyguard after what he went through with Punchline. Lucius then talks about the media coverage Punchline is getting after her confession went public. He goes on to mention how much has changed in Gotham City, including Clownhunter still being active, a call for an emergency election to replace Mayor Dunch, and Joker still alive.
Batman tells Lucius he does not need to justify why he hired Grifter. Lucius says that is not the point of what he was saying. Lucius questions how Bruce plans to fund being Batman now that the Wayne Family fortune is in his bank account not Bruce’s. Lucius goes on to say that both the Wayne Enterprise Board of Directions and government will be closely monitoring every dollar Bruce spends moving forward.
Lucius then moves to talking about how the Wayne Enterprise Board of Directors are trying to buy Bruce out and have already strong-armed him into selling off the Wayne Rebuild of Gotham project. Bruce says that Lucius should keep the fortune and let Wayne Enterprise disassociate from him so the company can still mean something.
Lucius once again reminds Bruce that he will be on his own as Batman, meaning that he’ll no longer have access to all his previous resources including fixing his own car.
Lucius then mentions how he is bringing his kids (Luke, Tamara, and Tim Fox) in to help him rebuild Wayne Enterprise having already bough Foxtech. Bruce is surprised to hear that Lucius is bringing Tim back in. Lucius says that he is trying to bring his family together. He then says he will still support Bruce in whatever he decides to do.
Batman goes back up to the rooftop to leave. He runs into Grifter before leaving. Batman tells Grifter to let Lucius that while Gotham City is changing that he’ll always be watching.
In the present Batman continues to talk with Catwoman about how he will need to operate moving forward without pushing others away. He reveals that this includes moving out of Wayne Mansion and living in Gotham City because the mansion just feels empty without Alfred there.
Bruce goes on to admit that when they got back together he thought of providing Selina with a new identity to make things easier but it would mean asking her to give everything up to be with him. Catwoman then suggest they go on a one year break so that they can each deal with their current status quo. Batman questions this. Catwoman reminds him that they both have enemies after them and they need time to properly deal with that from both their sides.
Batman is resistant about going with this idea but Catwoman says that this is how they need to play things right now. Catwoman goes on to say that they can’t waste anytime and pulls Batman in for a kiss. Catwoman then asks Batman to show her his new place. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #101 is a reset point for the franchise. While only Batman, Catwoman, and Lucius Fox are focused on the work James Tynion does in this issue will have ramifications on what the rest of the franchise is going to be like moving forward. When that larger scope is the focus Batman #101 is at its best.
When looking at how Tynion started off his run he was very much building off what Tom King constructed during his run on Batman. Both “Their Dark Designs” and “Joker War” happened because of what the Batman Family went through during everything that led to “City of Bane” happening. While Batman #101 still uses that status quo as part of the story it quickly becomes a signal for the changes that need to happen for the entire franchise to move forward.
We get that tackled directly through the conversation that Batman and Catwoman have with each other. When King’s run ended we were in a spot where both Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle affirmed their love for one another. The problem there is that “City of Bane” did not end with Batman and Catwoman moving forward with a clean start to begin their renewed relationship. There was still a lot of baggage they were both carrying with both “Their Dark Designs” and “Joker War” placing a giant spotlight on that fact.
So from that viewpoint Batman and Catwoman deciding to take a one year break so they can each properly put all their energy into dealing with all the targets on their backs makes sense. Making this the stronger decision for both was Bruce admitting that when they got back together he was planning to provide Selina a new identity so they can be together. Bruce going on to say that while it would have made having their relationship out in the open easier it would not been right to make Selina give up who she is showed growth in their understanding of one another. If this relationship is going to work long-term Bruce and Selina have to be themselves. The fact that they did not break up reaffirms how they are doing this to make their relationship work long-term.
On Batman’s side of the story Tynion did a very good job setting up what Bruce will be up against moving forward. As Bruce says early on, Joker showed him that he was doing things wrong and because of that it left him open for what ended up taking place during “Joker War.” Now due to all of these openings he let Bane, Joker, and other villains exploit Bruce has to completely restart his mission as Batman. But unlike other restarts Bruce will no longer have all his resources to at least maintain some sense of safety. Having the Bruce actually face the ramifications that comes with losing his Wayne Family fortune and Batman tools to Joker makes everything Tynion and, by extension, King have done during this volume of this series more meaningful.
While it is definitely interesting to see how Bruce now deals with having to help Gotham City with minimal tools as Batman it was good to see that Lucius Fox still has his back. Tynion properly positions Lucius to be that new father-figure that Bruce can still turn to for advice. Even when Lucius is giving Bruce a reality check about his situation he still makes it clear that he has his back.
And really after Bruce, Lucius was the star of Batman #101. Like Bruce, Tynion showed us how “Joker War” really impacted Lucius’ character. Moves like hiring Grifter to act as his bodyguard after what Punchline put him through shows that the character won’t be sitting still anymore. Lucius will now be more proactive than ever. Through this Tynion showed that Lucius’ new fortune and lead position at Wayne Enterprise is going to make him be even more active than before about moving forward.
Which we see with how Lucius has already started moving chess pieces into place to be successful by having Wayne Enterprise buy FoxTech and bringing on his kids, Luke, Tamara, and Tim Fox, to help lead the company. This will bring greater attention to how important the Fox Family are to what goes on in the Batman franchise. Luke, Tamara, and Tim can all be characters, like their dad, who can be part of other Batman books when the story calls for them. This also opens Tynion up to develop the possible future we will see in Future State as it’s heavily implied that the new Batman is either Luke or Tim.
Further springing off all of this character development is what will Gotham City become moving forward. As Batman and Lucius talk about, Gotham City in a state that it has to move forward. The status quo of the city as a whole is changing, as Lucius specifically references an election for a new mayor is being rushed to happen. It’ll be interesting if all of this is further set up to how we’ve seen Tynion make steps to move the franchise into the Neo Gotham future that fans are familiar from Batman Beyond.
Guillem March provided his usual strong artwork throughout Batman #101. You can tell that Tynion has complete trust in March as there are moments where the artwork is left to tell the story. We see that with the short fight between Batman and Grifter. There barely any dialogue as March takes control of this scene to show Batman and Grifter’s fighting styles. It made the moment when Lucius yelled at Grifter to stand down more impactful as we are left wondering who would’ve really won if the fight continued.
The Bad: While Tynion handled the resolution to what Batman and Catwoman decided to do well it did not completely work as intended on the latter’s point of view. Unless you are reading Catwoman’s main series you don’t really have a full sense of why Catwoman would decide to go with the one year break she tells Batman to do. This falls back on the fact that we saw very little of what Catwoman was doing during “Joker War.” While we have a good idea of what she did we never actually saw it happen in the main “Joker War” chapters. Giving us a glimpse of who is after Catwoman like how we get visuals of Clownhunter being active and talk of a re-election would’ve made this part of the story stronger.
Batman #101 also felt like a weaker aftermath issue for post-Joker War without having the Batman Family involved in some way. Tynion spent the last few chapters of “Joker War” spotlighting how the Batman Family is back together that for us not to get hints of what their roles will be moving forward a disappointment. The Batman Family being unified just as Bruce is left with just the costume and tools he has on hand as Batman would’ve helped give us a full scope of what the direction will be moving forward.
Overall: Batman #101 sets the stage for what the franchise will be moving forward. Batman, Catwoman, and Lucius Fox lead what that direction will be with the decisions they each make during the course of this issue. Those decisions along with where Gotham City finds itself post-Joker War create a lot of exciting possibilities for the Batman Family as a whole.
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