Story Arc: The Cowardly Lot Part One.
Writer(s): James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson.
Penciler(s): Jorge Jimenez, Gleb Melnikov, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Xermanico.
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles, ALW’s Troy Peteri, Tom Napolitano.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: September 14th, 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.
Batman (Vol. 3): Ghost Stories by James Tynion IV.
As the repercussions of the Joker War continue to take a toll on Bruce Wayne, the city of Gotham struggles to see any hope at the end of the tunnel. With new allies also comes new threats but the resources are not the same anymore. Having to start from scratch yet determined to rid the city of its criminality, Batman needs to reevaluate his ways, to shed himself of the past, and to push forward towards a future where change can be possible. Unfortunately, many others have their eyes set on changing Gotham City but prefer to approach things with a touch more radicalism, and that means that a little bit of political and societal manipulation isn’t too bad for these people.
What is Batman: The Cowardly Lot Part One? Set after the events in Infinite Frontier, Batman works together with Ghost-Maker towards creating a new crime-fighting vision for Gotham City. This time around, a new gang surges from the shadows with the mysterious Master Wyze and his Unsanity collective amidst the clown violence within the city. Meanwhile, Mayor Nakano is invited to discuss with billionaire Simon Saint who wishes to put in place a new law enforcement project known as the Magistrate which involves the development of an army of Peacekeepers. As if there weren’t enough pawns at play, Scarecrow also makes an appearance behind the scenes as the city plunges deeper into a Fear State.
“We start our lesson with the most important question. Why do we fear?”— James Tynion IV
Collecting Batman #106-111 and Infinite Frontier #1, this first part sees the talented duo who brought fans the Joker War look into a brand-new crisis in Gotham City that not only introduces, once again, original characters (from shady villains to morally grey allies) but also pushes the limits of Batman in new ways. More of a prelude to a larger event, writer James Tynion IV sets in motion multiple pieces to his puzzle and ends on a cliffhanger that mostly elucidates the overarching mystery centered around the larger plan at play. Unfortunately, his far-reaching imagination and untamable ambition lead him to tango with too many ideas without giving them the proper amount of attention for readers to fully invest themselves in each of their plights.
Overlooking the unnecessary plug-in for another comic book series with a little story about Damian Wayne’s future with his mother as well as the forgettable five-part mini-story featuring Ghost-Maker’s journey to defeat a group of quirky criminals who all have a history with him, artist Jorge Jimenez deserves all the kudos in the world for carrying the weight of this story arc on his shoulders. Despite my eternal love for his artistic style that rewards readers with gloriously stylish, detailed, and expressive artwork, he does a phenomenal job in giving this story arc a tone and visual direction that makes it more enjoyable than it actually is. As a whole, it might all feel more like a prologue for something bigger to come but this feeling has been more like a déjà-vu as of late and writer James Tynion IV needs to deliver something memorable before he calls it quits with the following volume.
Batman: The Cowardly Lot Part One is an intriguing preamble that ambitiously seeks to present a city collapsing under fear but lacks a much-needed and unexpected narrative explosion to justify its direction.