Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Mike Hawthorne, Adriano Di Benedetto, Tomeu Morey, Jorge Jimenez, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: January 3rd, 2023
Gotham City has never been darker or deadlier. And after Failsafe, there is no Batman to save it. Can the fractured ghost that roams the streets survive? Whatever happened to the man known as…Bruce Wayne? Let’s dive into Batman #131 by Chip Zdarksy and find out!
Batman #131 opens guns at full throttle. If you want to know what happened to Batman, you’ll find out almost immediately. There will be no sugarcoating it. Zdarsky is direct and it’s quite refreshing. Hence, readers are thrown into a parallel universe with Bruce taking fans on a rather unanticipated ride. Batman #131 undoubtedly opens not where anyone would expect. However, do I like it? The jury is still out on that question.
Now, what I did like is the play-by-play and inner monologue of Bruce. I love how Zdarsky lets fans in on what Bruce is doing and why through Bruce’s direction and guidance. Additionally, I’m digging this parallel universe’s characters. They’re all spin-offs and combinations of the villains and heroes we know from Gotham but with a few hidden fixtures and varieties to spice them up a bit. So, the added wrinkles help jettison what story readers thought was on the horizon into this new juxtaposition of a story that finds its roots in multiversal travel. Nevertheless, it’s the final wrinkle on the last page that I appreciate that ties this issue of Batman into the Failsafe story successfully. It’s the compassion of this placement.
Mike Hawthorne and Adriano Di Benedetto are noticeably different from the first Failsafe arc. This isn’t to say that their work is necessarily bad. It’s just to imply it’s different, which could be done on purpose to showcase the darkness of the diverse universe we find ourselves in. However, the inks are darker, the colors are muddier, and the renderings just seem a bit blended together. Moreover, the Harvey Dent character looked almost like a Vampire and the action scenes came across as almost smeared at times with the dark shading and coloring showcased in Batman #131.
If you’re not one for previews or solicits, Batman #131 should be a wild ride. It’s an unexpected story delineating from the Failsafe ending that doesn’t completely jive with the direction of the story. Nevertheless, even though Batman #131 wasn’t anticipated, it still had its moments that instantly hooked this reviewer into the story. However, the change is so drastic, I found myself staggering to find my footing and needed a solid re-read to better appreciate the actual story that was being told.
Now, this wasn’t Zdarksy’s Failsafe run that’s been humming on all cylinders since he took over the book. Yet, I still found myself entertained by the unique cast of characters and the multiversal mayhem that awaits on the horizon. So for now, I’m in hopes that we don’t get huge gaps of time between this new story and what’s happening back in the Prime Earth’s Gotham with Failsafe. I would love the full attention here on this new story and not split between the two places. In order to really hook the readers on this new development, I think Zdarsky will need every page to do just that. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!