After how badly Gotham War dropped the ball for the franchise it was refreshing to see Chip Zdarsky quickly get things back on track with Batman #139. While another Batman vs Joker is the least exciting story, given how often we have gone to this well, Zdarsky added his own stamp to this rivalry. That addition was the continued presence of Batman of Zur-En-Arrh within Bruce Wayne’s psyche. Batman of Zur-En-Arrh influence has become even stronger to the point we saw every version of Bruce throughout the Multiverse having their own Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. What does this mean for the series moving forward? Let’s find out with Batman #140.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky (Mind Bomb and The Savage Garden of Gotham)
Artist: Jorge Jimenez (Mind Bomb); Mike Hawthorne (The Savage Garden of Gotham)
Colorist: Tomeu Morey (Mind Bomb); Ivan Plascencia (The Savage Garden of Gotham)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles (Mind Bomb and The Savage Garden of Gotham)
“BATMAN VS. A LEGION OF…HIMSELF! It’s Batman versus The Joker in their most brutal fight of all time. But wait…Batman is also battling a legion of himself! What has Zur done? And who will walk away? The brutal “Mindbomb” continues!” – DC Comics
While Batman vs Joker was the front facing selling point of the “Mind Bomb” arc the true story is with Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Since beginning his run on this series Chip Zdarsky has made Batman of Zur-En-Arrh a main driving force for a lot of the developments that have happened. Now with Batman #140 that is truer than ever as the true battle of this issue was with Batman of Zur-En-Arrh and what that resulted in.
Making this story to be about Bruce Wayne vs Batman of Zur-En-Arrh with Joker acting as the person who ensured the fuse was not put out before the explosion is an excellent choice. We’ve seen every Joker story possible at this point. It is far more interesting at this point how Joker acts as a complimentary piece to a greater story. That is certainly what “Mind Bomb” gets over as Joker’s latest plot against Batman was more of a means to an end situation.
Which makes the reason for Batman of Zur-En-Arrh’s creation be tied to the initial fights Bruce had with Joker be an even more full circle moment. Joker was such a threat that Bruce in his younger days created this side of himself that was even locked away from him within his own mind. It had to be Joker who made it possible for Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to either fully claim ownership of Bruce’s body or escape, which we got both scenarios in Batman #140.
Adding to how interesting this internal battle was the fact it did not give Joker an advantage in the fight happening in the physical plane of action. Zdarsky played it smart in making sure whoever was the dominant personality was the one Joker was fighting. The internal battle between Bruce and the Multiverse of Batman of Zur-En-Arrh did not get in the way.
It all further reinforced why it is so dangerous for Bruce to let his work as Batman consume him to the point that is all he is. There needs to be a Bruce Wayne side so that he doesn’t lose his humanity. And we get that with the way Batman of Zur-En-Arrh acts a judge, jury, and executioner when he goes through with breaking Joker’s back in a Bane-like manner.
This all made the internal battle a fascinating thing to watch go down. Making Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns version of Batman the leader of the Multiverse Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was a great choice by Zdarsky and Jimenez. That is the version of Batman who kept going beyond the limitations of his age.
The resolution of this being Bruce only getting half a victory was the best outcome Bruce could get. That is something you realize with the final page where we see that the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh personality now resides within the Failsafe android. It’s one of those “of course” moments that Batman of Zur-En-Arrh would have created this plan if Bruce did prove strong enough to defeat him. Now all we are left is to wonder where things can go with Failsafe and Batman of Zur-En-Arrh fusing together.
The only slip up that Zdarsky makes in Batman #140 is the integration of Lucie Chesson. While it is not surprising that Zdarsky would use his first Batman work in “Batman: The Knight” it was poorly handled. Lucie is treated as nothing more than a plot device to get Bruce to talk. She just randomly appears and then disappears. Maybe her appearance would be different if she was by Bruce’s side when he woke up to discover Failsafe and Batman of Zur-En-Arrh are now one. But without that moment her role could’ve been given to any other Batman Family member.
Speaking of which, it was disappointing coming off Gotham War that we didn’t see Tim Drake or one of the Batman Family members in Lucie’s role. It would given more weight to the ending of Gotham War if we saw one of the Batman Family members watching out for Bruce. They know he is not in a good place right now. Given that Zdarsky made it a point to use Tim as a key character in his Batman run up to now this would’ve been the perfect time for him to continue his development and relationship with Bruce.
Everything that worked with the “Mind Bomb” portion of Batman #140 is carried by Jorge Jimenez. Given all of the Multiverse versions of Batman of Zur-En-Arrh we get Jimenez, along with colorist Tomeu Morey, makes sure every one of them keeps their distinct design. That is not an easy task given the colorful design of Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Jimenez and Morey make sure they honor the designs of all the artists that have worked on these Multiverse Batmen. They also delivered some really brutal moments with how the battle goes down with Joker.
The back-up with Vandal Savage is what it is. There are obvious bigger picture things going on, particular with Vandal Savage either becoming or having influence over the GCPD Police Commissioner, a role Renee Montoya has had since Infinite Frontier. Getting Renee Montoya and the Batman Family involved in this back-up would improve the interest in this story.
Turning Joker into a plot device to push the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to its next phase was the best decision made for this “Mind Bomb” story arc. There are certainly some questionable story choices but there is no doubt with how Batman #140 ends we are left in a spot where we can be excited by all the possibilities for Bruce Wayne’s future in 2024.
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