Joker War Enters Final Stages in Batman #99

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Batman 99

I've been ambivalent about this whole "Joker War" going on in the BATMAN books. Tynion's run has been a welcome change of pace from the eternal misery of the previous eighty issues, and the premise of the arc has been a solid one. Basically, Joker has always known the identities of the Batman family, and has taken advantage of a long-planned heist that puts him in charge of the Wayne fortune -- as well as the company and real estate, giving him access to not just the money but the research and development areas -- that is, the weaponry of the Batcave.

My issue with it has been some of the more 'super' aspects of the plot. The supernatural mind control of Richard Grayson, turning him into the Joker's son; the super-fast changes implemented to the city landscape, particularly the redecorating of the Wayne tower. Those are minor aspects -- in a world of comic book physics, even Batman's world must succumb to certain intrusions from the extranormal and illogical -- but when they pop up, they annoyed me.

Not enough, however, to stop me from following the story, which becomes more compelling the closer we get to the end -- particularly when Batman comes off the hallucinogenic toxins administered by Joker's new main squeeze, Punchline. But now that Batman is no longer seeing visions (and no longer being driven by the voice of his deceased butler), the entire Bat-family -- plus Harley Quinn -- have been brought together to take the fight to Joker, ready to take the city back in a single night.

But even this is an eventuality for which the Joker has been prepared. He's been tormenting Batman by sending corpses after him in previous battles, reanimated with some special gas fabricated by The Designer. This is another of those 'supernatural elements' that sometimes got in the way of my enjoying Tynion's run. However, in this issue, that 'technology' is put to its ultimate test, allowing the Joker to strike his hardest psychological blow against Batman yet -- all while he prepares to go to battle in his new and improved Joker suit!

Will this be the end of the Joker story, as Harley plans for it to be? Will Joker be apprehended and put away yet again, only to take his war against Batman one notch higher the next time they meet? Or is there a third option Tynion has planned for the 100th issue that wraps up "The Joker War?" We don't have long to wait to find out. 

4.5 / 5.0