Batman 103 continues the introduction of Ghostmaker, and it does a great job setting up not only who he is but the relationship between him and Bruce. This feud, while new to us, existed long before Batman came into existence. This issue also shows that while two people may hold the same ideals, how they go about them can be radically different.
Batman 103 kicks off with a past meeting between Ghostmaker and Bruce. We know the two hold an adversarial relationship, but this meeting show an almost kinship between the two. If there was nothing but hate between the two, Ghost would have simply attacked Bruce in the desert, yet Bruce says not tonight and Ghost does not attack. They sit down and begin to talk like old friends. Bruce obviously holds the advantage in their combats, but Ghost seems to use Bruce more as a measuring stick for how good he is.
Then we get the trademark line that always seems to drop between heroes and anti-heroes – emotion makes you weak. It feels odd talking about Batman as emotional, but Ghost is right. Bruce simply shows them differently. The question really should be does this come up as a simply point of conversation or is Ghost playing and manipulating Bruce? Either way it proves the spark to get Bruce in the fight.
Batman 103 – All in One
The fight continues in Gotham from Batman 102. The two are evenly matched. That much is clear, but the way they do things becomes abundantly clear. Oracle sits blind to every aspect of Ghostmaker. She cannot see him, hear him, or tell he exists in any manner. Batman warns her not to attempt to override anything because his computers would crash the great Oracle’s set up in a heartbeat. To be more advanced than Oracle’s set up alone tells us something, but it also shows us a lot.
Earlier in the issue out on the sands, Ghost warned Bruce about emotions. Ghost has taken every aspect of crime fighting and placed it all on his shoulders. Everything from tech to fighting to crime busting. Meanwhile, Batman uses his Bat-family for support. Oracle does the computer work. Nightwing and Robin gave back-up and Batman uses those around him for information and support. Will the outside support be Batman’s help or undoing?
Batman 103 – Blunt Force Versus Surgical Precision
Let’s face it. Batman has been on one hell of a losing streak. The Joker War shook not only Gotham, but their faith in their vigilantes. Bruce’s methods become scrutinized by everyone – including by Batman himself, but we also get to see here the difference between a vigilante blindly busting criminals versus a vigilante who plays the bigger picture. Which works better can be questioned, but it contrasts their styles perfectly.
Ghost goes on to brag about all the chops he’s busted, and that was BEFORE he got off of his plane. The resume sounds impressive, but then Batman lays out his side of the story. Nearly every criminal Ghostmaker busted was merely a smaller piece to a bigger puzzle. Where Ghostmaker hits the little guys, Batman set these people up to lead him to the bigger source of evil and corruption. It works slower and takes more time, but where Ghost likes taking the criminal off the street, Batman works to take the entire organization off the street.
This really shows the differences between the two. Ghostmaker strikes fast and hard. He will make short work of any criminal or group, but he does not think things through. Meanwhile, Batman, the world’s greatest detective, puts thought into everything he does. Like Joker, he plays chess and sets moves up multiple moves in advance. Every outcome has a ready response and counter.
Batman 103 – She’s Home…So are Clownhunter, Batman and Ghostmaker
Clearly Harley Quinn now calls the Batman title home. The alt cover for this issue alone proves that, but once again she features into the events here and may have saved the day without even realizing it. I love Harley’s responses as Clownhunter attempts to kill her. She plays the whole thing up like it’s some game, and when she tires of it she puts Clownhunter down in a cold second. I love her response as Bats comes crashing through her window: “Hey, Bats. Don’t get mad. I didn’t kill him or anything. I’m tying him up like you hero types do.”
Given how this issue ends, Harley calling out to the ‘people who listen into Batman’s head radio thing’ and giving their address may save their lives, but we won’t know about that until next issue!