Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Howard Porter, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: May 3rd, 2022
After a long hiatus, BATMAN and ROBIN are finally back together and they are chasing down the truth behind the murder of Ra’s al Ghul! However, while they’re off on this mission, who is left to protect the Secret Society against Talia and the League of Shadows? Let’s dive into this fifth installment of the SHADOW WAR as BATMAN #123 by Joshua Williamson continues with a surprising cliffhanger!
Bad characterization, overdramatized scenes, and extremely out-of-character dialogue lead the charge in this week’s BATMAN #123 by Joshua Williamson and his crew. Now, I appreciate Williamson’s tie-ins to other DC COMICS like the JUSTICE LEAGUE, DEATHSTROKE INC., and ROBIN. However, the storyline and narrative beats felt flimsy at best. Connection to random henchmen, incorporation of BATMAN INC, as well as Ghost-Maker, felt forced almost as if Williamson was pushing specific characters harder than others.
Plus, the conversation between Bruce and Damian seemed extremely weird, unnatural, and absolutely rushed for no real reason other than to show BATMAN slip up his focus. It felt like characters were purposefully restating other key characters’ names even when the conversation was only between the two counterparts. Moreover, it felt like discussions were happening in a vacuum. It’s almost as if no one seemed… right.
Yet, it wasn’t just the characterization that was off in BATMAN #123. It was also the over-the-top ridiculousness that was centered around the DEATHSTROKE scenes that caused a stir. Hordes of Ninjas with guns cascading bullets all around… and DEATHSTROKE still manages to escape each time. Or, how about the very same hordes having Slade dead to rights and utterly surrounded but leave him alive. Readers, the story is just getting out of control and losing rationality at this point.
However, as bad as the story and narrative beats were from Williamson, Howard Porter and his art team didn’t help much either. The renderings were too dark, the character designs were too sharp, the faces were disproportionate, and the backgrounds were way too busy taking away from the focal point of too many of the panels. Moreover, the bullet barrages and explosions cluttered the pages providing a maze of colors and lines to weave through. Normally, I’m a huge Howard Porter fan. Nevertheless, these past BATMAN issues have not been the regular, top-notch Porter quality I’m used to seeing in a DC COMIC.
BATMAN #123 doesn’t do much this week other than an attempt to pull on the heartstrings with the final page. Nothing pertinent to the story was uncovered, conversations were overdramatized and out of character, and the art was hard to decipher and edgy. Overall, I feel like SHADOW WAR has turned into a mini crossover event for Williamson-related titles and has almost zero impact on anything else happening at DC COMICS. It’s almost as if the story is on its own island. So, if you skip it, you’re not missing much which ultimately takes away its importance and weight. As of right now, I’d have to tell everyone to pass and jump back on BATMAN after SHADOW WAR wraps. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!