Things have certainly escalated in Gotham City during Infinite Frontier as the events of A-Day have had serious ramifications for all the Batman Family comic books. Even as the Batman Family have become a tighter unit following Joker War it looks like they were unprepared for what Infinite Frontier had in store for Gotham City. One of the villains that looks to be taking advantage of the current situation in Gotham City is Scarecrow. The long-time Batman villain looks to be taking full advantage of what is going on to elevate himself as he looks to gain more control over the city. Which is timed with the Magistrate program beginning in Gotham City. How will all these things tie-in together? Let’s find out with Batman #107.
Writers: James Tynion (The Cowardly Lot main story and Ghost-Maker back-up story)
Artists: Jorge Jimenez (The Cowardly Lot main story); Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (Ghost-Maker back-up story)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (The Cowardly Lot main story and Ghost-Maker back-up story)
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Somewhere unknown Batman tries to fight off the influence of Scarecrow’s torture while under the effects of the Fear Toxin.
Sometime earlier as the news reports on Scarecrow’s message to Mayor Nakano the previous night Batman investigates the mansion it happened at. Batman finds a scarecrow placed in the middle of the room. He has Oracle analyze its placement. Batman mentions that this is likely a play at creating panic in Gotham City without the use of Fear Toxin.
Renee Montoya and the GCPD suddenly appear and immediately demands Batman to leave immediately or else be arrested by the police. Batman reminds Renee Montoya not to forget how to ask questions. He then uses a smoke bomb to escape unseen.
In Electric Town, Harley Quinn stops a criminal named Stabbo, who was going nuts after stabbing three people. Some GCPD officers show up to arrest Stabbo. Harley Quinn says Stabbo needs his meds to ensure he doesn’t go nuts again. The GCPD don’t care so Harley knocks one of the officers out.
The GCPD get ready to arrest Harley Quinn. Ghost-Maker then suddenly shows up and helps Harley Quinn escape.
Nearby a mysterious person (The Gardener in her official debut) with two plant-dogs tells “Rex” that they were right about “her” being back in Gotham City. She goes on to say that it means there is still hope left.
Over at Oracle’s Clock Tower, Barbara Gordon watches all the reports coming in about the increase in crimes and Mayor Nakano instituting a strict curfew in Gotham City. Batman appears and asks Barbara what she is working on. Barbara says she is working on a new version of the Bat-Signal with Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown’s help since he GCPD disabled the one on their headquarters.
Batman then reveals that he found out what the GCPD believed to be Jonathan Crane’s body among the dead at Arkham Asylum was actually just a body double. Batman and Oracle then discuss the possibility Scarecrow being behind A-Day and he is now seeing how far he can get things done without using Fear Toxin.
Batman then asks if Oracle if she found more information on the Unsanity Collective. Oracle says she has only found out as much information that she can get from their videos with the Unsanity Collective leader, Master Wyze, talking about using Mad Hatter’s tech to give Gotham City a “reboot.” Batman thinks that with what the Unsanity Collective have been doing on top of Scarecrow’s reappearance they are causing the news stations and people power greater fear.
As Batman is about to walk out Oracle tells him that the Unsanity Collective have an outpost in the abandoned Mid-City Mall in The Narrows, which has become a homeless camp. She suggest finding a way to join them before they scatter and set up shop somewhere else.
Over in Saint Industries headquarters at Midtown, Simon Saint, who is working on some Peacekeeper tech, gets word that he has been invited to the ceremony for the A-Day Memorial groundbreaking where Sean Mahoney will be honored. Simon says he accepts the invite and asks his assistant to leave him alone.
While looking out his office window Simon Saint spots Scarecrow across the street on a rooftop. Scarecrow says that fear is catching on and if Simon Saint wants his Magistrate to be a thing they need to move to the next phase of their experiment, which will include people dying. Scarecrow asks if Simon Saint is ready for that or not.
Over in The Narrows, Matches Malone (Bruce Wayne’s gangster identities) finds where the Unsanity Collective’s outpost is and asks the guard to tell Master Wyze that he is in.
The Good: Batman #107 is a strong example of how a creative team can take a methodical approach with a story without ever having it feel slow. There is a purpose to everything that James Tynion writes and Jorge Jimenez draws that keeps your eyes glued to what will happen next to the story at all times.
Opening with a reminder that most of the current story in “The Cowardly Lot” is taking place in a flashback to how Batman was captured by Scarecrow continues to be an excellent set up. Tynion and Jimenez set a tone with this one page for how dangerous things are in Gotham City. At the same time, they do not give anything away as to how Batman ended up being captured by Scarecrow. In the process they continue to the thread of how terrifying this new version of Scarecrow is without spoiling events in the story.
That mystery of how Bruce Wayne ends up where he is in the present creates a sense of tension to what take place in Batman #107. You are constantly looking out for the mistake that Bruce makes as Batman to get himself captured. Which adds another layer to the story going on with how Bruce has his hands in multiple cases going on in Gotham City. Because it is not just about what one event that we are seeing Batman deal with. He has discovering what really happened during A-Day, Scarecrow’s latest attacks, the Unsanity Collective rise, and Mayor Nakano’s anti-vigilante stance to deal with. That is a lot to juggle but it is in this overwhelming number of things that our heroes deal with that you feel so engaged with this storyline.
With all of this going on Tynion does a great job showing how Batman is both in control and overwhelmed at the same time. Even though he does his best to deal with everything like he normally does Batman is still limited on his resources. That includes the distrust the GCPD, including Renee Montoya, have with him making things harder for him to investigate the Scarecrow case.
Which works in well to emphasize how important it is for Barbara Gordon to return to being Oracle. Even though she can still be active as Batgirl given everything happening in Gotham City she is most effective working as Oracle right now. She shows she can work with the entire Batman Family to at least get things stable while creating a network of information for them all to use. That all leads into how we once again see how Barbara as Oracle is ensuring that the Batman Family still represent hope for people in Gotham City.
Also, the way Tynion writes the scenes with Batman and Oracle emphasize how much of a leadership position Barbara has taken on as she is providing advice for how Bruce should be handling things. Which we see work with how Bruce taking the suggestion to use his Matches Malone identity to infiltrate the Unsanity Collective. It is clear that Bruce has his mind in so many places and that he does need others now more than ever to help him out. The reasoning behind becoming Matches Malone emphasizes this.
Bruce having to using this identity helps to establish how the Unsanity Collective are to be treated as a serious threat. Tynion is doing a good job building them as an underground threat who have their own vision for what should become of Gotham City. The way that vision, as communicated by their leader Master Wyze, clashes with Batman and Mayor Nakano is put over well. The presentation with the video announcement give them more of a cult-like vibe rather than just another typical gang as we saw in Batman #106.
All of this works in well into how Scarecrow and Simon Saint seem to be working together to create even more fear in Gotham City. Tynion is giving a strong foundation for why we will likely see Mayor Nakano turn to the Magistrate program as the only solution to all of Gotham City’s problems. It also adds a new layer of intrigue to what Scarecrow is doing without the use of his Fear Toxin. Having the villain not use his typical methods makes Scarecrow an even more terrifying villain. Seeing how he even creates fear within his partner in Simon Saint shows how much Scarecrow is no longer messing around.
And that is just what is taking place in “The Cowardly Lot” story as we see with the debut of the mysterious Gardener. The Gardener only appears in one page and Tynion maximizes this appearance to show how there are many more things going on in Gotham City than just Scarecrow and the Unsanity Collective. Which once again highlights how the events of A-Day have opened things up for more new characters to rise in its aftermath as Gotham City has become as unstable as it has ever been. Which makes learning what The Gardener’s relation to Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn even more interesting to find out about.
Speaking of, Tynion continues to do a good job writing Harley Quinn as Batman’s new “sidekick.” Harley Quinn brings a sense of levity to this dark storyline that needs a lighthearted scene or two liven things up. At the same time, Harley Quinn’s scene does further the unstable status quo Gotham City has as we see another example of how the GCPD aren’t properly dealing with mental health issues in the city. Harley Quinn using her psychologist background in how she tried to deal with Stabbo was well done to show this other side of the character in a serious light.
As mentioned before, the artwork by Jorge Jimenez elevates everything going on in “The Cowardly Lot” storyline. Jimenez artwork gets over how Gotham City is going through an evolution after the events of City of Bane, Joker War, and A-Day. Whether that evolution is a good or bad thing is still to be determined and the artwork shows just that. Capturing that vibe makes every scene involving Batman, Oracle, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, and others hit on a whole new level.
The back-up story involving Ghost-Maker was solid. Tynion and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz did a good job using what we already know of Ghost-Maker to further get the character over. Showing that Ghost-Maker will go on missions outside of Gotham City is a good way to show how he is different from Batman. While Ghost-Maker is now operating out of Gotham City as Batman’s partner that does not he is limited to one location. He is someone that will go around the world to take on those he believes are threats.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: From beginning to end James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez have your attention in everything that takes place in Batman #107. Every character from Batman to Harley Quinn to new characters that debut have their own stories going on. And each of them builds greater investment in what is going on in Gotham City after the events of A-Day. This is definitely a must have Batman comic book.
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