Welcome back, everybody, to my read through DC’s premiere Bat Event for 2020, The Joker War! I’m continuing to take a look at each issue, including tie-ins, and assessing the Joker’s damage during this all-out war for Gotham-wide control! I’m adding each review to the master Joker War Reading Order and assessing which issues are essential and what tie-ins you can leave out if you like.
Reader Beware! Spoilers abound ahead!
At its core, this issue is a two scene issue. The first scene is a rooftop cage match between the newly captured Batgirl and Nightwing who is under the influence of Joker and Punchline. This scene has some great choreography and anybody who enjoys a decent comic book fight will love Dick vs. Barbara. In the middle we have some allusions to Dick’s origin story, but with a Jokerized twist. No telling yet if this is a true rewriting of comics history or just an effect of the Joker toxin.
Of course, Barbara tries to talk some sense into Dick and make him snap out of his brainwashing. This proves ineffective and I think that was the right way to go with the story at this point. Talking Dick out of his murderous daze would seem to easy. Meanwhile, Barbara is distracted from the true horror about to go down. Punchline is about to attack the Pennyworth Children’s hospital.
If Jurgens decision to make Barbara’s pleas for Dick to snap out of it ineffective were a strong story choice, I think the next scene proved to be a weak choice in equal measure. Nightwing drops in on his fellow Robins both present and former as they receive a distress call presumably from Barbara about the Hospital attack. As quick as Dick drops to the ground he explains away his brainwashing, tells his compatriots he’s all better, and then alleges Barbara’s actually the one brainwashed by Joker. Ok. That’s a lot to drop on Red Hood and Robin and expect them to believe. They do, though.
Benjamin’s art is effective is a bit simplistic at a wide angle. When he gets up close he has some solid line work and keeps the characters on model. At a distance, the characters become abstract shapes, though. It’s not a huge deal, but seeing as this is a critical review, I have to be critical of something. It really doesn’t detract from the story and I really only noticed when I reread the issue the third time.
In terms of reading order, this book definitely falls after Batgirl #47. After all, both Barbara and Joker are incapacitated and not ambulatory at the end of that issue. How Joker gets from Barbara’s apartment roof to his own cage match roof is yet to be seen. How Barbara recovers from her self-inflicted wound, recovers, only to be caught by Dick is also yet to be seen. Hopefully Batgirl #48 will clear that up next week.
Nightwing #73 is not an essential tie-in to The Joker War, but if you’re already reading Nightwing, it’s an enjoyable story playing out in the same sandbox as the main event.
Nightwing #73 is on sale now! Official solicit:
NIGHTWING #73 – On sale June 17, 2020
The Joker knows Dick Grayson is Nightwing—and the plans he’s set in motion in will haunt Batman forever. Under the control of The Joker’s mysterious ally Punchline, Nightwing must battle the people he once loved most: Batgirl, the Robins, and…himself.
Written by DAN JURGENS
Art by RONAN CLIQUET
Cover by TRAVIS MOORE
Variant cover by ALAN QUAH
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
FC | DC