Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Jorge Molina, Adriano Di Benedetto, Mikel Janín, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: January 4th, 2021
BATMAN has made his way to Badhnisia on a case in hopes to clear BATMAN INC.’s name. Someone named Abyss was found dead and the Dark Knight was lead to believe BATMAN INC. was the culprit. However, when he arrived in Badhnisia, BATMAN uncovered that Lex Luthor has been responsible for funding BATMAN INC. causing even more speculation and mystery to this tale. What’s Lex up to? And, why does he care so much about BATMAN INC.? Let’s dive into BATMAN #119 by Joshua Williamson, Jorge Molina, Mikel Janín, and Adriano Di Benedetto to see if BATMAN INC. is truly responsible for this murder as well as what Lex Luthor has to do with all of this.
It’s been a while since this reviewer was excited for the BATMAN series again. And, I genuinely couldn’t wait to hear about this issue. The last issue of BATMAN left a plethora of intriguing plot threads, a different setting, and a new foundation for BATMAN that’s really sparked my interest. So, curiosity set in for answers to all these questions. Well, Williamson and his creative team do a great job this week of revealing some answers, delivering a few clues, and doing so while supporting the narrative with just enough action, thrills, and mystery to keep fans locked in on this new tale.
The only solid complaint that this reviewer could make is that the introductory felt a bit cartoony in its tone and dialogue. The line “criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot” was a bit over the top making it feel forced and a bit cheesy. But it also made the story easier to digest for a new reader hopping into the series and gave the issue connective tissue to BATMAN and his true origins dating back to THE LEGEND OF BATMAN. My problem is that we are so far removed from that version of BATMAN that it feels like a caricature of what he is now. The evolution of what’s he’s become now makes the original BATMAN seem almost silly in nature. Therefore, seeing lines like this take me back to that time, remove me from the current nature of the BATMAN, and make him seem almost comical in disposition.
Nonetheless, after the first-page throwback, the story takes off with such promise. And readers, Lex is back! But not just any Lex… the one we remember who hasn’t been “finding himself” for the past half-decade. Granted, it was nice to see a “good” Lex for a bit. However, in a time when people believe true power and politics are actually run by greed, money, and business, bringing Lex back as the raging cavalier business entrepreneur suits the DC COMIC landscape much better. And, the scene where he dumps a 20 million dollar bottle of wine out like it’s nothing sealed the deal on his return.
Nevertheless, the strongest aspect of the issue is Abyss. Ultimately, Joshua Williamson spins Abyss as a darker, more terrifying version of BATMAN. He sneaks in the shadows and uses the same parlor tricks as BATMAN but with even more effect and “superstition” if you will. So much so actually that this came across as more supernatural in essence than the Caped Crusaders and squares the circle from the corny line at the beginning which was ultimately solid writing.
Moreover, I’m normally not a fan of backups in comics. Different writers and different artists put forth different tones and they oftentimes feel like they cut the overall story and premise short. Nonetheless, this backup, even though it had a unique feel and tonality change, felt like it was legitimately giving us background on Abyss with some pretty rock-solid illustrations. Or at the very least a vignette that’s important to the overall story.
Jorge Molina, Mikel Janín, and Adriano Di Benedetto lead the charge on an issue that’s distinct, crisp, and truly brilliant. Each person is generated with such strong detail, yet polished and smoothed over making it easy on the eyes. These three soar when it comes to facial features and intensity within this issue of BATMAN. And as a fan of realistic and practically 3-dimensional renderings, these three take the cake. Plus, this Dark Knight is massive, muscular, and wears a suit that looks durable, thick, and beastly. It’s almost as if Molina, Janín, and Di Benedetto are mirroring their own version with the Batfleck, heavy-leathered, Kevlar-infused version alongside the Frank Miller DARK KNIGHT version making this BATMAN look like a force to be reckoned with. To simply say the art is stunning this week would be an understatement.
BATMAN #119 is a well-written, balanced, fortified story with just enough action and suspense to keep the reader on their toes. Plus, Williamson provides a few answers to keep fans invested but supplies new questions and intrigue to keep you locked in on this run. Abyss is an eerie, yet clever spin on elements that made the BATMAN feared by the base and lowly criminals of Gotham. However, readers leave BATMAN #119 with the impression that it’s something a bit more supernatural in nature surrounding this vigilante/villain.
Moreover, I would be remised if I completely skipped over Molina, Janín, and Di Benedetto’s ability to render the perfect tone and imagery for the issue. Without them, Williamson merely furnishes the words. They set the supernatural climate that elevated Abyss into something more this issue and is half the reason BATMAN is back on my pull list. Let me know what you think, have a great start to 2022, and God Bless!