Bruce Wayne has been given one of the biggest surprises of his life as Lex Luthor took over his Batman Inc creation. If that wasn’t bad enough the new villain Abyss has taken over leadership of Batman Inc. Making things even worse is that it looks like everyone that Bruce recruited for Batman Inc. is fully on board with the new Batman Inc. that Lex Luthor is funding. Can Bruce Wayne regain control of one of his creations? Lets find out with Batman #121.
Writers: Joshua Williamson (The Abyss); Karl Kerschl (They Make Great Pets)
Artists: Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin (The Abyss); Karl Kerschl (They Make Great Pets)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (The Abyss); Dave McCaig (They Make Great Pets)
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: Back when Bruce Wayne made the announcement to the world about Batman Incorporate Lex Luthor decided to make a move on his own by creating his own “Batman” by finding the person who would become Abyss in the war-torn island nation of Badhnisia where no superhero was operating at the time.
In the present, Abyss reveals he convinced Bat-Man of China, Dark Ranger, El Gaucho, The Hood, and Man-of-Bats to join him with the promise of killing Lex Luthor. Just as the fighting begins Batman activates Batman Inc. Code: Club of Heroes. Bat-Man of China, Dark Ranger, El Gaucho, The Hood, and Man-of-Bats immediately turn on Abyss, revealing this was all an undercover mission to stop Abyss. Abyss quickly runs away after being overwhelmed by all of the Batmen.
Before going after Abyss Batman steals a device from Lex Luthor’s Bat-armor to counter Abyss darkness ability.
Batman then quickly finds Abyss and uses the device he stole from Lex to consume the area in light. Batman is able to use Abyss’ own rage against him to counter all of the villain’s attacks and quickly defeat him.
It is then revealed that Batman Inc used everything they learned about Abyss to discover were he was holding people hostage and save them.
Later, Batman offers Detective Cayha of the Badhnisian Police Department the opportunity to be Badhnisian’s Batman when she is ready.
Meanwhile Lex is pissed off that the Batman Inc. members used him. Batman Inc. reveals that while undercover they were able to find a list of factories Lex was using to conduct his experiments to create others like Abyss. Lex walks away pissed off.
Batman Inc. then questions Batman when he discovered their undercover work. Batman reveals he knew when fighting that they were all holding back and compliments them on their good work without him.
After hearing about the Arkham Tower crisis Batman returns to Gotham City. As soon as he gets to the city he contacts Oracle and admits she is right that he needs to celebrate victories when he can.
As time passes Batman contacts Ghost-Maker about some plan he has.
Elsewhere Detective Cayha investigates one of Lex Luthor’s villain creation factories.
Meanwhile, Prometheus informs Deathstroke that Batman has returned to Gotham City. Deathstroke is happy to hear his as they need Batman distracted while they prepare for war. Deathstroke is shown in front of several monitors with videos of Lex Luthor, Batman, Talia Al Ghul, Robin (Damian Wayne) and Ra’s Al Ghul. End of main story.
The Good: Both the main story and back-up story of Batman #121 are examples of how to wrap-up storylines with satisfying conclusions that build towards the future. Joshua Williamson and Karl Kerschl really nail the characterization of Batman through both stories told in this one issue that showcases how multi-layered the character can be.
With the main story Williamson is able to connect everything back to the founding of Batman Inc as the main driver of this entire Abyss story. Williamson does a great job presenting us with Abyss backstory without getting in the way of the story going on in the present. We are given just enough about Abyss and how he was a creation of Lex Luthor to have a grasp of the character and why they are a villain. At the same time, the backstory doesn’t go to farm to make him a sympathetic villain. Rather the backstory along with the actions he has taken in the present further inform how Abyss is a villain that allowed himself to be consumed by darkness.
Abyss being passion as such a villain with close ties with Lex Luthor made the development of Bat-Man of China, Dark Ranger, El Gaucho, The Hood, and Man-of-Bats where in this deep undercover mission without Batman’s knowledge such a great reveal. This was a great way to show that Batman Inc. does not need Bruce Wayne’s leadership or funding to keep running. Bat-Man of China, Dark Ranger, El Gaucho, The Hood, and Man-of-Bats can continue operating with the core Batman concept and successful accomplish missions. Which they did with how they used Abyss to also stop Lex Luthor’s current villain creation operation.
Batman also discovering Batman Inc’s plan through the opening fight showed how much Bruce respect them all. It also further showcases the World’s Greatest Detective part of Batman’s character that is always great to see spotlighted. Bruce going from taking it personal to understanding Batman Inc when the members defend why they went through the undercover mission was a great growth moment. It continues the trend of how Bruce really is learning that he cannot control everything. Taking this learning lesson to even recruit Detective Cayha as Badhnisian’s Batman and setting Ghost-Maker up to be her trainer further drives home how important having close allies are to Bruce now.
The different final epilogue does a great job setting the stage for Williamson’s big crossover with Batman, Deathstroke Inc., and Robin. Deathstroke recognizing that Gotham City provides a great distraction for Batman not to notice the bigger things going on in the world is great character work. Having Prometheus as an underlying also further builds Deathstroke as a major threat that Batman will not be able to take on alone.
The artwork by Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin continued to showcase how well these two artist compliment each others style. Molina and Janin made adjustments to keep the artwork looking consistent so you were never distracted when the artist for a page would change. It really helped to drive home how we were dealing with multiple layers of storytelling as things progressed with how Abyss was taken down. The fight with Abyss in the area of light was particularly well handled as both Batman and Abyss’ dark costume really stood out even more in this setting.
The back-up story by Karl Kerschl does such a great job of showing Mia Mizoguchi the highs and lows of being Robin. Throughout this adventure Kerschl made sure to emphasize how young Mia was through the way she reacted, first to how she successfully help Batman save the day to the terrifying experience with the demonic creature. It was such a great way to give Mia a layered experience as she lives out her dream of being Robin. By the end Kerschl is able to leave the door open for Mia to possibly be the new Robin moving forward if DC Comics wanted to go that direction post-Dark Crisis.
Kerschl also did a great job with handling of Batman’s interaction with Mia through all of this. He doesn’t immediately tell Mia to stop being Robin. Through his experience with his other proteges Batman understands why Mia would want to be Robin. Which is fully showcased with how Batman calls Mia “Robin” while helping calm her down after the terrifying experience she had at the end of the story. Batman actually being a mentor is something that DC Comics doesn’t do enough of but you see here that it really is a quality that has a lot of potential for great character moments.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: Batman #121 does a fantastic job closing out the two storylines that have been running in this series the last few months. Both Joshua Williamson and Karl Kerschl create such fantastic character moments that showcase what makes the Batman franchise special. If you didn’t read this story arc make sure to pick up the collection of Batman: Abyss when it is released.