Batman: The Joker Warzone #1 a Mixed Anthology to Set Up 2021

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Batman: The Joker Warzone

With an event as big as Joker War, spanning as many titles as it did, it's easy to slip in a few stories here and there, some shorts that just didn't fit into any of the established titles. That's where the one-shots come in, like BATMAN: THE JOKER WARZONE, telling stories that happened behind and between the scenes.

This floppy opens with "A Serious House," by James Tynion IV and Guillem March. If you've been around Batman as long as I have, you recognize the title is an excerpt of the full title of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's graphic novel, ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH. Fitting, since the story takes place in Arkham, where Bane is hooked up to a machine straight out of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS. The machine is extracting the venom from his system, and as big as it is, Bane must have enough venom in him to fill a few tanker trucks. The Joker comes to visit him as he's strapped in, and he's angry about Bane's actions in the previous story arc by Tom King (yet another instance of The Joker becoming a symbol for the masses to rally around). Specifically, Joker is angry that Bane killed Alfred but didn't take advantage of the opportunity to do it in front of Batman, wasting it instead on Robin. The Joker then leaves him there to live under the threat of what Joker will do to him in the future -- which will apparently happen in 2021, so the Clown Prince of Crime isn't going away any time soon, apparently.

"Family Ties" was a less appealing story, involving the Fox family. Lucius is still recovering from his ordeal at the hands of Punchline. Apparently, the Fox family has been wired the entirety of Bruce Wayne's fortune, which the Joker had previously stolen from Wayne. Lucius has apparently become bitter against the bats, and gets even more so when his son Luke suits up in his own bat-suit after the Joker's goons come to get the money back. I'm unsure if the Wayne fortune will remain in their hands, or if this John Ridley and Olivier Coipel story was intended to be the launch for the Batman story of the supposedly defunct 5G plan.

Joshua Williams and David LaFuente deliver a team-up between Spoiler and Orphan. Spoiler believes her father still has a functioning bat-signal in his storage facility, which is overseen by a thugs-for-hire honcho called The Hench Master, whose job it is to train goons for Gotham's master villains. Not to spoil things too much, but the salvage mission doesn't go as planned, and it's all a setup to give the girls each a new costume. "The Symbol" is a big yawn for me.

"Ashes of Eden" by Sam Johns and Laura Braga is a tale that reinvents Poison Ivy as Queen Ivy, setting her up to be a big bad again of disastrous proportions -- something else we are going to see in 2021. This story reminds me of a time in the 1980s, when Poison Ivy once stole all of Wayne Industries away from Bruce Wayne... in the space of a single issue, not over a several-month arc. Worth a mention.

Finally, James Tynion IV returns with James Stokoe for "Clown Hunt." The Joker sends a team of clowns into The Narrows to take care of the Clownhunter who has taken out so many of their numbers. One by one, he takes them down, to the acclaim of the citizens of the borough. What makes this story most interesting is the artwork, which has a distinct 2000 A.D. style to it.

Tynion's stories are the highlights of this run, understandable as he is the architect of the Joker War arc. The rest of it is all setup for things yet to come, and they just don't have me excited.


3.0 / 5.0