Overview: In Batman #106, Batman and Ghost-Maker investigate the Unsanity Collective, a new gang on the rise, while Damian Wayne travels home to reclaim his heir to the demon throne.
Editor’s Note: Today saw the release of a major DC title when it relates to continuity with Infinite Frontier #0. While the issue deals with the DC Universe as a whole, there was a certain story interspersed dealing with the Batman Universe. So rather than reviewing that story along with the areas of the DC Universe we typically do not cover, below is coverage of the Batman Universe aspect of the issue followed by the review of Batman #106. Enjoy!
Infinite Frontier #0 (“Batman”): by writer James Tynion IV and artist Jorge Jimenez
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): An Arkham Asylum guard named Mahoney walks down a long corridor toward Bane’s cell. Inside the giant cell, Bane is chained to the ceiling. Mahoney spots another guard’s deceased body lying on the ground before Bane, with green mist swirling around it. At first, Mahoney blames Bane. Upon taking off Bane’s mask, Mahoney sees that the villain has been Jokerized.
Mahoney calls in to the guard station, informing the guards that Arkham is under a Joker attack and to go into full lockdown. The guards at the console, however, have also been Jokerized.
At the Clocktower, Oracle is talking to Huntress and one of the new Batgirls, Stephanie Brown, when the “Code Green” alert shows up on her computer screen. She’s taken back for a moment, as it’s so soon after Joker War. This is uncharacteristic for the Joker.
Elsewhere, Jace and Lucius Fox are playing chess. The two are arguing over the Fox family’s role in Gotham’s future when Grifter arrives. Grifter tells them about the Joker attack at Arkham.
In the Gotham City Mayor’s office, newly elected Mayor Christopher Nakano orders Renee Montoya to send a deployment of GCPD to Arkham. Montoya notes that there was an attachment assigned to Arkham, but other than the one guard, none are responding.
Batman gets word and makes his way to Arkham. He intercepts Mahoney’s communication and talks Mahoney through activating a system that will burn the toxin in the air by heating it. Mahoney does so, then notices that there are nurses trapped in a storage room, and they are using oxygen to stay alive. It will ignite and kill them.
Batman drives as fast as he can toward Arkham, and Mahoney rushes into the storage room to save the nurses. He grabs them just as an explosion goes off.
Outside of Arkham, Batman finds Mahoney. Mahoney is still alive, and he asks if he saved the nurses. Batman tells the guard that the nurses are safe. Just then, GCPD shows up. They tell Batman that he’s under arrest, that no more masks are welcome in Gotham City under Mayor Nakano.
Batman ignores the GCPD and calls for his computer to give him a view of life readings in Arkham Asylum. Only seventeen people are alive. He rushes off to save them.
At Saint Industries, Scarecrow proselytizes about how Gotham has changed. Simon Saint, the CEO of Saint Industries, asks Scarecrow if Gotham is ready for the Magistrate yet.
“No, Simon Saint… They’re not nearly scared enough,” Scarecrow says. “But they will be.”
Batman #106 “The Cowardly Lot Part One”: by writer James Tynion IV and artist Jorge Jimenez
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Batman #106 begins somewhere dark and dingy, a man tied to a chair struggles to combat the fear toxin flowing through him. A bunch of TV screens glow before him, and Scarecrow walks up from behind, beginning a grand lecture about fear. He tells Bruce Wayne to succumb to the fear, then injects the man in the chair, presumably Bruce, with another dose of toxin.
Earlier, Batman drives a stripped-down Batmobile while Oracle chats in his ear. She tells him that the Unsanity Collective has stolen $36 million worth of artwork from Atchison Cole, CEO and owner of the Gotham Gazette. Batman notes that this attack makes it the fifth media mogul attacked by the Unsanity Collective.
Oracle will do what she can to divert traffic to keep this new gang pinned in Old Gotham while Batman intercepts. Above the streets, members of the Unsanity Collective ride a hovercraft. They call in to a mysterious “M.M.” about Batman tailing them. A silhouette on the rooftops, someone who looks like the newly announced “Miracle Molly” villain, tells the gang members to stay cool.
Batman sets the Batmobile to autopilot and grapples onto the hovercraft. To intercept the ground team, Ghost-Maker arrives, and he promises Oracle that he’ll only maim gang members, not kill.
Above Gotham, Batman takes down the gang members and brings the hovercraft down in Robinson Park. He ties up the thugs and intercepts their conversation with Miracle Molly. Molly threatens Batman, then shuts down communication. Ghost-Maker shows up with the ground team members. The two vigilantes quickly make their exit as GCPD arrives.
From a rooftop, Harley Quinn voices her displeasure at having missed all the vigilante shenanigans yet again. She doesn’t have the equipment to show up and help, which doesn’t let her show Batman that she’s on the straight and narrow.
In Midtown, Simon Saint meets with Mayor Nakano. Saint pitches the Magistrate program, complete with a unit of Peacekeepers designed specifically to handle the many supervillain attacks that Batman has let slip through his fingers. After the pitch, Nakano promises to talk it over with his advisors, then makes his exit. From a rooftop nearby, Scarecrow watches.
In the Fort Graye neighborhood of Gotham, a reporter interviews Bruce Wayne’s neighbor, Edmund Potter, about Wayne’s fall from grace and his move into the neighborhood. Potter rants against Wayne, which Bruce sees from his security system inside his new home.
Bruce gets up from his computer and spars with Ghost-Maker, working through the case of the Unsanity Collective as he fights. He pieces together the Unsanity Collective’s attack on media moguls, coming to the consensus that this new gang is assaulting people who control the “mood” of Gotham, thereby looking to instill fear.
At home, Mayor Nakano expresses his discomfort with Simon Saint and the idea of the Magistrate. The news blares in the background, discussing the Unsanity Collective attack, Nakano’s slipping approval ratings, and the feeling of fear and concerns for safety in Gotham. Nakano watches on, drinking whiskey, while a scarecrow looms just outside of his living room window.
Analysis: Batman returns after a two-month hiatus with quite the action-packed opener. We’re teased with a nefarious Scarecrow plot, the beginnings of The Magistrate (as seen in Future State: The Next Batman and Future State: Dark Detective), an appearance by a recently teased new villain (Miracle Molly), and a somewhat new Bat-Family.
Writer James Tynion and artist Jorge Jimenez present us with a whole new Gotham in a way that’s compelling, easy to follow, and exciting! This rejuvenated Batman run bursts forth from the Joker attack on Arkham Asylum in the pages of Infinite Frontier #0, as well as the fallout from the Joker War last year. Batman, specifically, is more stripped down in this issue. Though he still has Oracle to communicate with, his Batmobile is less tech and more muscle car. The new Batcave appears to be in the basement of his newest residence in one of Gotham’s many neighborhoods. The equipment that Batman and Ghost-Maker have to spar with is also downgraded, opting for a simple punching bag and boxing gloves. This adds a layer of vulnerability to Batman, which gets piled on with the new anti-mask ordinance from Mayor Nakano and the GCPD, as well as the secret motivation behind the Unsanity Collective and Miracle Molly.
Early implications suggest that the Unsanity Collective has something to do with Scarecrow, who is also tied to the beginnings of the Magistrate. In the two months that we’ve been away from the “current” Gotham, it feels as though a lot has changed, which is what makes this issue so revitalizing and exciting. There’s so much that’s new, and yet, it’s not overwhelming. For all of the subplots and new story threads introduced, this issue flows almost effortlessly.
Jimenez’s art, especially, continues to elevate Batman comics. His depiction of Scarecrow brings the character back to his roots with a hat very much emblematic of a scarecrow in a cool and eerie way. Yet, this Scarecrow also feels like some kind of warlord bent on conquering Gotham. It’s in the way Scarecrow sits and the way his arms rest on his legs. This depiction freshens up the master of fear, adding a layer of unpredictability.
If there is one complaint with Batman #106, it’s the inclusion of Harley Quinn. Tynion and Jimenez’s Harley has been amazing in past arcs, but in this issue, she’s given just a panel or two. It’s as if they wanted to remind readers that Harley is a part of the Bat Team, but they didn’t have much to say beyond that. For Harley, it feels like such a waste, and maybe this panel or two would have been better spent focusing on the action at hand?
“Demon or Detective?”: by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Gleb Melnikov
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): In the rogue nation of Markovia, guards are taken out one by one. Talia Al-Ghul drinks tea, sensing the approach of her son Damian Wayne. She tells Damian that he is just as theatrical as his father, to which he takes offense.
Damian has come to reclaim his heir to the demon throne. Talia notes that she’s tried over the years to get him to come back, but he rejected her. She digs further, saying that he is only coming back now because he was defeated. In her opinion, Damian returned because he lost everything and had nowhere else to turn.
Just then, assassins from the League of Lazarus show up. Talia and Damian team up to kill the assassins. Unfortunately, one assassin gets the drop on Talia and holds a knife to her throat. Talia implores Damian to kill the assassin, but Damian hesitates, grappling with fear. A knife slices flesh, but we don’t see whose flesh.
Analysis: Batman #106 shares this Robin backup and it is quite the teaser, as we don’t know whether Talia lives or dies. It’s also deeper than one might initially think. Though it’s mostly action, with Damian breaking into Markovia and then teaming up to battle assassins with his mother, the ending echoes the trauma that he had to witness, alone, during the City of Bane arc in Batman. In that arc, Damian watched, helpless, as Bane murdered Alfred. In this backup, we’re given a clue that this is what Damian is reflecting on in the second to last panel.
It’s the fear in Robin’s eyes, penciled wonderfully by Gleb Melkinov. Talia mentioned Alfred’s death earlier on in this short story, and in this panel, we see it again in Damian’s hesitation. He doesn’t want to lose a loved one twice, in almost the same way. That’s quite the note to end on, and it’s arguably even more of a tantalizing ending than the core story in Batman #106.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic digitally and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue either through Comixology or Amazon.