Joker War: Week 1 Recap (Detective Comics #1024, Batman #95, and Batgirl #47)

Joker War is here as the event OFFICIALLY kicks off today with Batman #95. Reading through the books, I am blown away by Batgirl #47 and what it means for Batgirl specifically, but the other stories all have interesting and important stuff.

FULL SPOILERS

  1. Detective Comics #1024 Harvey Dent, the Talons, and Batman (Joker War Prelude)

Recap: This issue is a continuation of #1023 and sees Harvey Dent and Batman face off against the Talons controlled by joker. It opens with Harvey Dent having to decide between Batman and Joker. Choosing Batman, Harvey Dent and the rest of the police fight to take down the talons who are WAY too numerous in number and WAY too difficult to kill. While the fight happens, Joker enjoys watching it all play out and at one point takes out numerous police with implants Hugo Strange put in their head. As they all start to lose, Harvey Dent decides to sacrifice himself blowing everything up. Rather than die, The bullet in Dent’s head moves to result in Dent becoming two face again. However, he is unable to move because Batman paralyzed his mech suit. Unable to move, Dent received surgery from Batman who removes the bullet which brings Dent back. The joker lost this fight but did what we wanted causing chaos.
Note: This most likely happens before His Dark Designs and there was no mention of any of the events in that arc.
Thoughts: This isn’t a must-read by any means. In fact, the events of this book don’t seem to have been all that important serving instead as a sort of conclusion to Tomasi’s run so far heading into Joker War. Both issue #1023 and #1024 require serious context before you jump into the books. It’s probably best if you sit this one out.

  1. Batman #95 Joker War Part 1

Recap: A lot happens in this issue and a lot of it is unclear. Joker has taken over all of Wayne’s fortune. Everything Wayne owns is being seized by both the government and the police. The police however are seizing the Wayne buildings in an effort to stop the joker after Gotham Gazette reported that the Joker is behind the loss of Bruce Wayne’s money. However, the police are told they have to leave because an injunction was filed against them. Batman will be without the police’s support in Joker War. Meanwhile, Joker is visiting the old theatre on Crime Alley where he has filled the theatre with intoxicated guests to show the film Bruce saw right before his parents died. His plan goes further though as he plans to buy every theatre in Gotham with the Wayne fortune. Meanwhile, Punchline has intoxicated Lucius Fox forcing him to reveal everything to her. Now, Batman seems to be in hiding while trying to figure out what to do next. He eventually tries to enter a secret Batcave in the Wayne Enterprises building, only for Punchline to be there. Punchline has filled the room with a non-lethal toxin that she is immune to. Under the effects of the toxin, Batman tries to escape and hears Alfred’s voice right before a Batplane fires lasers at him.

Thoughts: Overall this issue is a lot to take in. The story isn’t bad at all and makes great use of the Joker. Punchline is proving to be a great character and is starting to fit naturally in the story. I’m very impressed by Tynion’s ability to set the stage, but right now everything just feels like stage setting. After a whole arc of stage setting for Joker War, I had hoped we would have gotten more action by now.

  1. Batgirl #47 Joker War: Tie-in

Recap: This is the issue I REALLY want to talk about. Some HUGE game changing stuff happened here.
It starts with Barbara walking into her appartment after a long day. Tired she fails to notice the presence quietly hiding in a corner. Suddenly she realizes that everything is slightly off and she throws a wine glass and the figure who happens to be the joker. They begin to fight, and Joker reveals he knows she’s “the worst robin”, Barbara keeps fighting back, but Joker has the upper hand with a device that controls her implant. Without use of her legs, Barbara struggles but manages to land some blows on the joker before he makes her stand up and sit on the couch by controlling her legs. Stuck on the couch, joker recaps their history. Barbara however verbally starts laughing to make the joker uncomfortable. Losing the verbal battle, Joker takes Barbara to the roof by controlling her legs where he threatens to blow the city before criticizing Barbara’s relationship with the guy she’s dating. Joker wants the codes to the Batcave’s analog computers and Barbara reveals a hint, but says she doesn’t actually know the code. Feeling like he can break into it now. Joker plans to walk Barbara to the Batcave with him, but Barbara refusing to lose control of her body anymore drives a pole into her implant removing it. Though no longer able to walk, the joker can’t control her anymore. She then throws the pole at Joker as he tries to leave hitting him in the back. The issue ends with both of them lying on the ground bleeding from their backs.

Thoughts: This issue is deeply unsettling, thanks to the art and story content, but it works really well. Barbara and Joker spar physically and verbally and each have the upper hand of each other at different moments. Though Barbara has no control of her legs, she still takes control of the verbal argument, and ultimately, the issue also thrives from the direction the series seems to be setting up. As a Joker War tie-in this issue takes place after Batman #95, but that’s about the only tie-in element. Instead, the story does what any good tie-in does and uses the event to set up stakes and consequences for the event. It seems to me like Batgirl was cancelled for a potential Oracle comic and that sounds AMAZING. It’s too early to confirm, but without her implant, it looks like Oracle will fully be back soon.

Overall, Joker War is off to a great start. From Nightwing’s impending return to Barbara becoming Oracle again, it is clear that the story has real consequences and status quo upheavals. I can’t wait to see where the event will go!

What did you think of the Joker War stories?

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It’s important to realize that the continuity of Joker War is already broken as Nightwing #72 and Batgirl #47 both require Batgirl to be beaten and bleeding at the end in a way that breaks the timeline. However, the quality of Batgirl #47 let’s me forget this happened.

My opinion (cynical is my default lately so I’m embracing it).
Detective Comics and Batgirl - good reads.
Batman - nothing original to be found. I eye rolled through a lot of it. Great art.

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Well, it bugs me that Batgirl and Nightwing issues seem to directly contradict each other. I mean, I guess the Batgirl issue could end up being an knightmare. Mind-Babs could have kicked Joker out of her head as he tried to get her to give up the codes. I’d be good with that. (I can’t believe I’m wanting a dream issue to make sense of continuity…)

Aside from the tie-in questions, I thought her comic was a mixed bag. On the one hand, it all felt very familiar to me. I’m saying this as someone who is fine with exploring the impact being shot in the spine had on Barbara as well as her recovery (excited for Three Jokers!). However, very little in this issue felt new. (1) Barbara has damaged/shorted out her implant to protect others/take out the bad guy in this series already (against the Red Queen). (2) Barbara has shown that she’s willing to risk her legs too, again in this series and by the immediately preceding writer. (3) Barbara dealt with the Joker directly and the general repercussions of the Killing Joke in the previous (new52) series as well (Death of the Family, which really feels like a prequel to Joker War, and the issues about the goon who called 911 for her almost immediately after she was shot). (4) We’ve seen Nightwing lose control of himself several times already in the last couple of years (Dick twice in back to back freaking arcs via Talon and then Joker), so seeing another Bat-family member lose control felt blech. (5) We also saw puppet walking in Dark Phoenix recently (assuming at least some other comics goers saw it too…), although that’s at least a different medium and character. Also, while the movie was visibly creepier with the puppet walk, Joker controlling Barbara’s legs was very creepy/uncomfortable to read.

On the other hand, I liked most of Barbara’s voice through this issue. She was very determined the entire time. I also thought an entire issue devoted to Barbara vs Joker with no other characters present was an interesting take. The scope was very focused and personal, and really let Babs’ inner voice shine. (Although, the ‘laugh at a man’ cliché line I could do without, especially in regards to Joker.) The spoken dialogue was hit or miss for me though. I liked her ‘joke’ back to him, but the frequent comparisons to Robins bugged me. I also liked the focus on Barbara’s intelligence… although having her ‘forget’ that Alfred died and her wall alarm was keyed to him and the manor seemed like a cop out for the plot.

I liked the art for the most part. The little action the issue had was good and the sense of tension was maintained throughout the book, although Joker himself didn’t seem as menacing as he sometimes does. He seemed subdued or calm, which was a bit weird. I haven’t read enough of the tie-ins and lead up issues to see if this event is just a different take on the character than I’m used to seeing.

Also, why did Bruce have something to specifically to mess with Batgirl’s implant? Yeah, yeah, I know… he’s Batman. BUT! Oracle is better with computers/hacking, so I’d think she could Batman proof her implant.

I could see this story hint at a more permanent return to the chair, this time more directly under Barbara’s own control. With all the damage the implant has taken, I could see the tech being irreparable without more extreme measures. I’d be ok with a return to the chair in this manner, and I think Babs would be too. She chose how to take down Joker, and she has made similar decisions in pursuit of other bad guys. She doesn’t need her legs, just her mind. (I think she says that specifically in Scott’s run.) However, I don’t think that’s what we’re going to be getting based on solicitations that mention her. Maybe that was what her 5G incarnation would have been, maybe not. The current writer basically said that the plan the final stories were building towards isn’t happening anymore. But who knows? I like Barbara as Batgirl, so I’m fine with her continuing on in that capacity. As long as she has a starring role somewhere…

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And how did Joker find it so fast? I can’t exactly tell the timeline of this event. I assume it was in a labeled drawer like how in every spy movie the bad guy has a folder on their computer labeled “top secret definitely do not open if you’re Jason Bourne”

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The event is a little wonky for sure, but DC as a whole has an EVEN more confusing timeline, so it’s not the end of the world, and both issues are actually fairly good.

Yeah. I wouldn’t factor the searching of Wayne Enterprises into a rating but it’s something I think of. I know money speaks but there was zero turnaround for Joker to start spending.

As exciting as the possibility of Oracle being back is, I’ll only believe it when I see it. Babs cut out her implant back in (I think) issue #50 of the 2011 series and was able to get over that without even needing to go to the hospital. It happened again under Scott’s run, so at this point it’s just getting cliche when it happens and she inevitably recovers.

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As someone who is not particularly a big Batman fan, is Joker War worth reading? I understand this just started but I figure now is the time for me to ask. I do apologize, I have scrolled through and only glanced at some things after @Nathan.Payson stated spoilers were ahead.

I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s been a long time since we had a smaller event comic with DC that brings a family of titles together, and I am enjoying it so far. It’s too early to give a full opinion, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read.

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If you’re not a big fan, I would suggest waiting and having a binge when it’s done.

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For me, King’s run wasn’t a crossover but felt so much like an event, albeit a drawn out one, that this one is kind of arriving when I’m still numb.

I get it, but we haven’t had a event with tie-ins yet which has resulted in the Batman line feeling largely unconnected. It’s great to see the story tightening up.