Batman 96 left me disappointed. It gave some exposition and TOLD us the state of Gotham instead of SHOWING us. Batman 97, the third part of the DC comics story arc The Joker War, more than makes up for the lack of excitement in the last issue. The action intense, and the price is steep. Never fear Bat-fans, when Batman needs to be bailed out once more, she returns!

Batman 97 – Punchline and the Clown

Gotham is jumping, and the action continues all over Gotham. Punchline, Joker’s new girl, runs the joker gas supply line. It serves a central purpose in Joker’s scheming, but the henchmen fear another more than they fear Punchline. A new vigilante haunts Gotham’s streets, especially the Narrows.

Known only as Clownhunter, he not only tracks down Joker’s henchmen, but kills them. While he protects Gotham, his tactics will draw the ire of the Bat when he finds out. What we see of Clownhunter only shows a scrawny, lanky kid in torn clothes, gloves and a helmet with a Roman-style Mohawk. Never the less, this new vigilante has a grudge against clowns.

Batman 97 – The Laughing Dead….and HER!

Meanwhile, Batman squares off with the Joker, or at least Joker’s latest trap. Somehow Joker’s new gas animates the dead, and like most zombie stories they have one purpose – kill the Batman. Batsy could normally beat off these death walkers, but he too has been poisoned by Joker’s gas. Only to him it works more like Scarecrow’s fear gas.

The fighting becomes intense and Batman manages to overcome the trap, but he emerges in terrible shape between wounds and the gas. Never fear! When Batman needs a rescue she will return! Catwoman right? Nope. Barbara? Nope. His savior once again turns out to be one Harleen Quinzel – AKA Harley Quinn.

Batman 97 – Do Not Count Harley Out!

Harley Quinn fans mourn the end of her title this week with issue 75, but the end of her comic leads not only to this Batman but issue 98 as well. In Harley 75 the final few pages show Harley getting her ass kicked by Punchline, and here in Batman 97, Punchline and Joker plan to eliminate his old flame.

This sets up Batman 98, which has the preview title of ‘Harley Quinn vs Punchline Round 2’. Her comic may end, but Harley’s involvement in the Bat-world looks to just be starting. The old girl ain’t done yet.