Story Arc: Ghost Stories.
Writer(s): James Tynion IV.
Penciler(s): Guillem March, Carlo Pagulayan, Carlos D’Anda, Danny Miki, Ryan Benjamin, Bengal, James Stokoe.
Inker(s): Danny Miki.
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey, David Baron.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: June 15th, 2021.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Batman (2016—) series:
Batman (Vol. 1): Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV.
Batman (vol. 2): The Joker War by James Tynion IV.
Change is easy to imagine. Hard to bring about. Tragedy often begets change in hope of a better future but change requires more than just a thought. Without the proper means, the right convictions, or the necessary people, change is an uphill battle. For Batman, change has always been his driving force, something that he has always hoped to achieve for Gotham City, whether it’s through Bruce Wayne and his enterprises’ projects or through Batman and his crime-fighting routine. Unfortunately, there is always a handful of individuals who continuously stand in his way. However, this time, he doesn’t have much of a choice if he’s to help the people of Gotham find the light at the end of this dark tunnel. The latest volume in the Batman comic book series collects Batman #101-105, a story from Detective Comics #1027, and Batman Annual #5.
What is Batman: Ghost Stories? Following the devastating Joker War, Bruce Wayne must adapt to change and find new ways to protect Gotham City from terror and madness. Without the same resources or the allies, as he once had, he must look elsewhere for means to overcome this latest challenge. Although he must now venture into uncharted territories, he and his mission are eternal. Meanwhile, Clownhunter is still running loose in the city looking for the two killers of his parents, especially Harley Quinn who inadvertently lend a hand in their fate. Additionally, a new threat known as Ghost-Maker surges from the shadows, greatly disappointed in Batman for failing his mission. This new face seeks to instore a new agenda for Gotham, one that will make him its hero, a hero that will do everything that Batman wouldn’t to get things done.
“There’s no approximating that Old Gotham anymore… There’s only remembering.”— James Tynion IV
It’s difficult to blame them for giving us a story arc that serves as a transition right after the highly anticipated Joker War event. Luckily, this volume has a narrative thread that ties it all together cleanly. Unluckily, the story falls flat. What readers get is a sort of exhaustive introduction to Ghost-Maker. It explores his crime-fighting methodology, his understanding of crime and punishment, and his relationship to Batman. His arrival also ties in with the newly introduced kid Clownhunter who is now Ghost-Maker’s primary target. The Batman Annual issue also dives into Clownhunter’s origin story, exploring his conflicted emotional state following his encounter with Batman during the Joker War.
The overall story is an average action drama where the only mystery lies in Ghost-Maker’s history with Batman, which is quickly addressed anyway. While a lot of his character’s raison d’être remains vague, a new face is always welcome in Batman’s lore. The chain of events is also quite rushed, trying to tackle multiple character development arcs simultaneously, whether it’s Harley Quinn, Clownhunter, or Batman, giving them all had a moment to reflect on their behaviours and what they needed to change going forward. Where it truly hurt is in the finale where a supposedly epic battle is brought to an end in the most stupidly stupendous fashion. As if the dullness of the story wasn’t enough, that ending made sure to give this volume no chance of being anything more than a superficial and inconsequential introduction to new faces.
Nonetheless, Ghost-Maker’s character design is quite awesome; although he does remind me of a cross between Moon Knight and Deadpool. He’s mostly brilliantly drawn by Jorge Jiminez on the different cover art but the artists in this volume did a decent job in giving him a threatening, a bit questionable too, design. The overall artwork does suffer at times from being shared with several artists, some succeeding in capturing a vibrant and sinister Gotham City more than others. The same can’t be said about the Batman Annual issue drawn by James Stokoe, whose particular style wasn’t as adapted to the story as one could hope for. That being said, the artwork channels the same kind of energy as the story: mundane and forgettable.
Batman: Ghost Stories is an introduction to Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter in a forgettable story of change and reparation.