Batman #145: Dark Prisons

Batman #145 Review – “Dark Prisons”

Chip Zdarsky took a bit of a detour with his Batman run to tell a new “The Joker Year One” story. Conceptually there were a lot of solid ideas. “The Joker Year One” was a much better version of the Three Jokers story, explaining the concept in a cohesive manner. That said, the story did end up coming across as a filler story, especially the Elseworld part of the story. Now with that story out of the way we can get back to the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh storyline. Returning to that story is particularly important given that Batman of Zur-En-Arrh is set to play a lead role in the Amanda Waller-led Absolute Power event. How will we get there? Let’s find out with Batman #145.


Writer: Chip Zdarsky (Batman: Dark Prison and Joker: Doctor’s Order)

Artist: Jorge Jiménez (Batman: Dark Prison); Michelle Bandini (Joker: Doctor’s Order)

Colorist: Tomeu Morey (Batman: Dark Prison); Alex Sinclair (Joker: Doctor’s Order)

Letterer: Clayton Cowles (Batman: Dark Prison and Joker: Doctor’s Order)


“A THRILLING NEW ARC IS HERE… “DARK PRISONS” BEGINS! Following The Joker: Year One’s stunning reveals, Batman must engineer an escape from Zur’s prison… but what dark secret does Zur now hold that’s a game changer for the Dark Knight and the entire DC Universe?” – DC Comics


After entering 2024 red hot with all developments from Batman of Zur-En-Arrh that momentum came to a screeching halt. Batman #145 showed exactly why “The Joker Year One” story should’ve been condensed to a back-up story in the last few issues. This newest issue shows why with how a compelling story is built around Batman of Zur-En-Arrh.

What Chip Zdarsky nails is making sure Batman of Zur-En-Arrh presence is always felt. Whether the character is on screen or not, Zur-En-Arrh is the engine that is making this entire move. The opening of Batman #145 is an example of this. Zdarsky has Joker completely drop the entire thing about never addressing Bruce Wayne as Batman. Joker directly addressing Bruce by name shows the impact Zur-En-Arrh has had.

Adding fuel to Zur-En-Arrh being the perfect Batman was how Joker referenced that exact thing. Jorge Jiménez nailed the facial reaction of Joker now seeing breaking Zur-En-Arrh as his ultimate goal. Joker telling this directly to Bruce shows how his attention has shifted.

Batman of Zur-En-Arrh captures Riddler
Batman of Zur-En-Arrh publicly announces the capture of Riddler in Batman #145. Credit: DC Comics

This all helps to further build up Zur-En-Arrh as the perfect Batman. As he tried to act with Jason Todd and Damian Wayne, Zur-En-Arrh is acting as the Batman we know Bruce would become if he went all-in on being the Dark Knight. We’ve seen this before in Elseworld versions of the character. What makes Zur-En-Arrh perfect is that he doesn’t have the limitations of being human who ages.

Zur-En-Arrh trying to convince Jason and Damian he is Bruce Wayne added a layer to their character. The way Zur-En-Arrh spoke to Jason and Damian showed a sense of humanity we haven’t seen from this character before. Though this could very well be because he is trying to get the Batman Family on their side. At the same time, this could be the compassion programing that Bruce infected Failsafe with. That compassion programming could be impacting Zur-En-Arrh now that they are using Failsafe to be Batman.

The reaction to Zur-En-Arrh actions also help to make other Gotham City residents’ major players in this story. The Batman Family are obvious people to take on Zur-En-Arrh with Bruce out of commission. Adding Renee Montoya’s standing as the GCPD Commissioner and Mayor Nakano taking a step back after the Magistrate failure compliments this story well. It shows that all the stories dating back to City of Bane built to Zur-En-Arrh’s takeover.

The ”Doctor’s Order” back-up story by Zdarsky and artist Michelle Bandini succeeded where “The Joker Year One” didn’t. This was a much better way to tell Joker’s part in the Zur-En-Arrh narrative. It dove into Bruce and Joker’s origins being connected while providing an explanation for Zur-En-Arrh  giving Daniel Captio the role of Warden of Blackgate prison. It brings everything together in a tight package.


Batman #145 is a strong return to form for Chip Zdarsky’s run on this series. The latest developments by Batman of Zur-En-Arrh created ripple effects that make the entire franchise compelling. Artists Jorge Jiménez and Michelle Bandini enhance this story with excellent flow to how the story is frame from panel to panel, page to page. It all makes this a great start to the “Dark Prisons” story arc.

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10