Batman #131 (Jan 3 2023) by Chip Zdarsky, Mike Hawthorne & Miguel Mendonca

First off, after Jorge Jimenez’s brilliant art during the Failsafe story arc, this change in artist and art style is quite jarring. I can’t tell if it’s the pencils by Hawthorne or Bendetto’s inking, but I’m not a big fan of the overall look of the main story. There are some nice panels though, which offer some interesting perspectives.

We open with Batman lying bruised and bloody on a cobbled street. His costume’s torn and half his face is exposed. A couple steal his utility belt and there’s a reference to the drug VENOM.

Batman regains consciousness and remembers Failsafe blasting him with some kind of energy weapon. Is he in Crime Alley? Maybe not the Crime Alley he remembers.

On the next page, we meet a mustachioed skeleton wearing a trench coat and smoking a pipe. It introduces itself as “Jimbo!” And tells Batman they “fight crime together! Biff! Bam! Pow!” It’s meant to be Gordon, but not the one Bruce knows so well.

Then we get some exposition with Batman telling us his theory of what must’ve happened to him. It involves “Multiverse poisoning and decompression sickness.” Also “Jimbo” appears to be reading Batman’s mind because he’s replying to what Batman is thinking. It’s a strange start to the story. Is Zdarsky trying to out Morrison Grant Morrison?

The Gotham City in this reality looks similar but as Bruce thinks, “Darker. More foreboding.”

Switch scenes to an apartment block. A tall Punisher-esque figure with a look of Steven Seagal is going door to door, judging people on their sanity. A maskless Batman grabs him from behind, but the man is strong and stinks of Bane’s favourite drug Venom. Bruce realizes this is Harvey Dent, now called JUDGE DENT, not DREDD thankfully!

A brutal fight breaks out and I have to say I’ve got used to the art by now and some of these panels are really good. Great composition and framing of the action. And a cool depiction of jujitsu to boot!

Suddenly, Bruce spots Firefly hovering outside the window. He blasts his flamethrower into the apartment and the room erupts in flame. “Firefly’s an idiot in any universe.”

Then, from another window we are greeted with THIS. Is it a boy or a girl? C’mon, surely you can tell by the hairstyle. Holy Hangover, Batman! I am SICK of this trend of the half-shaven-headed strong female character. Who is behind this? I can’t believe it’s now in the main Batman book. Is it the writer, the artist or editorial green-lighting this. Who likes this? Who wants it? Not me! Sort it out, will ya?!!

OK. Mini rant over. That’s my main story summary. Let’s move on to the BEST thing about this comic, the back-up story. I never thought I’d hear myself saying that. Despite it being only 8 pages long, it’s actually worth buying this book solely for the back-up story.

It’s also written by Chip Zdarsky. This time the art is by Miguel Mendonca and it’s a lot better than the main story’s art, in my opinion.

“The Toy Box: Part 1” features Tim Drake as Robin and Jon Kent son of Superman. Jon is blaming himself for what happened to Batman. The gun that Failsafe blasted Batman with was put in the Fortress of Solitude by Jon. Tim doesn’t blame him but gets angry when Jon says “Batman’s dead.” “He’s not dead!”

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story, so I’ll end it here. Just let me tell you we get to see Nightwing in here, too. The interaction between Tim and Nightwing is spot on. I think Zdarsky has been writing the Bat Family really well, especially Tim Drake. Let’s hope it continues.

Closing Thoughts

To be honest, this was a bit of a disappointment for me. The tone of the main story felt off, like it was unsure of what it wanted to be. A zany comedy or a more serious look into a multiversal Gotham City with no sign of a Batman. The art was disappointing too, despite some great fighting scenes. This issue was saved by the back-up story which is definitely worth reading, especially for fans of Tim Drake’s Robin.

6 Batarangs out of 10

Thanks so much for reading!

-Wakizashi, *really hoping for an improvement in the comics published by “The Big 2″*

If you are curious about the Art, here’s my video review. I had more time than usual for this review, so I was able to write the script you just read above. I think it makes for a much better quality video. I only wish I had more time for every review I do.

8 thoughts on “Batman #131 (Jan 3 2023) by Chip Zdarsky, Mike Hawthorne & Miguel Mendonca

    • I recommend The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller or Daredevil Born Again by Miller, too. All Star Superman by Grant Morrison is a great Superman story, and I’m not a big fan of the character.

      A back-up story is basically an excuse for DC Comics to charge an extra dollar for the comic. They’re only 8 pages long and often have nothing to do with the main story.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it took me around 60 to 90 minutes to summarize the story and take the screenshots. I read through the comic first, taking screenshots to use in the video review. Then read it again writing my summary as I go. This issue took longer than a regular $3.99 comic because of the back-up story. I’m planning to do one one for the new issue of Spawn, so I will keep an eye on the time and let you know how long it takes. Thanks for the interest. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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