Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Mike Hawthorne, Adriano Di Benedetto
Colors by: Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Jorge Jimenez
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: February 7, 2023
Batman #132 finds Bruce learning the lay of the land in Gotham where Bruce died and there never was a Batman. The more Bruce digs, the more Bruce learns what a city ruled by fear looks like.
Is It Good?
Okay, Batman #132 is an improvement over the last two issues. The lack of creativity in an alternate Gotham where almost everyone else is the same is a sticking point, but the theme of Zdarsky’s arc is starting to take shape, and it’s different from what you may have previously thought.
“What is the theme?” you ask. Well, Zdarsky may be headed in different directions, depending on what happens in the next issue or two, but as it stands now, this issue turns this arc into a point-for-point version of It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Bruce looks at what Gotham would be like if a Batman never existed. The city is bleaker, the people are either lost or meaner, and the final moral message is just what you would expect. Although the moral message doesn’t hit the same because Bruce never undervalued his own worth, the news for the audience is loud and clear.
In this issue, the potential new Robin (named “Panic Attack” because Bruce has too many Robins already) fights through her hopelessness to help wherever possible. The skeleton Jim Gordon (or Clarence the Guardian Angel, if you prefer) provides encouragement and guidance to Bruce in his roughest moments. The issue ends on a familiar note – Gotham needs Batman.
Along with the familiar-yet-twisted take on a classic story, Zdarsky delivers fine writing execution. The pacing, scene transitions, and dialog are on point, and the cliffhanger ends the book with a fair bit of momentum.
Regarding the art, Hawthorne and Di Benedetto’s inks/pencils are solid. In fairness to the readers, the art isn’t as exciting, gritty, or dynamic as Jimenez’s work in the first arc, but it’s still very good.
The Toy Box, part 2
In Zdarsky’s backup, we learn more about the gun Failsafe used to “kill” Batman through some light detective work from Tim Drake and a sizable amount of help from Mr. Terrific. We already know Toyman’s gun sends people through the multiverse, so that revelation doesn’t hit as hard as it should, but when Tim and Terrific venture into the multiverse to bring Bruce home, we find an unexpected mini-adventure that confirms Toyman had a bigger plan worked out. The backup in the previous issue added nothing to the story, but this one is worth checking out.
About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.
Bits and Pieces:
Batman #132 picks up steam by putting a new twist on a classic story to show Bruce what a Gotham without Batman looks like. The pacing, dialog, and action are on point, and some of the confusing elements from the previous issues get answered, so on the whole, this is the best arc issue so far.