Batman # 108: Meet the Miracle
During the Gotham section of Future State, one of the things I repeatedly tried to figure out was… who is Peacekeeper 01? It seemed to me that the way his face tended to be hidden implied that he was familiar, and when we saw parts of him – the back of his head, his red hair – I would think … well, who is red. ? What am I looking for?
He was actually a new character, and you know what? I didn’t expect it at first, but maybe I should have been. If James Tynion IV has done anything famous since arriving on the main Batman title just over a year ago, this is what you can expect. New from him – new mythology, new characters, new factions, even new places in Gotham City.
Take Batman # 108, third part of “The Cowardly Lot” for example. That problem is, aside from the Scarecrow and Bruce framing device we’ve come to know and love, much of it split into two spinning narratives, both involving the tapestry of new characters and the mythology that Tynion is in the process of building.
First up, there’s a closer look at the new Gotham faction, The Unsanity Collective, including a look at their belief system and lifestyle. Our companion on this tour is, of course, Bruce himself – undercover as Matches, claiming to want to join the Collective in an attempt to figure out how they fit into the Scarecrow’s current fear campaign on Gotham. The pretext is not as successful as he would like, but is saved by the escape character Miracle Molly, who chooses to “sponsor” him. This gives us a chance to hang out with her and get to know her (pretty cool) role in The Collective, while also learning more about how The Collective works.
This whole section is beautifully presented – Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey are a powerful team under any circumstance, but having the ability to work with rich, neon colors and quirky futuristic character designs, they are truly in their element. Miracle Molly’s design is weird and interesting to me – her clothes aren’t particularly appealing, but they grab attention, and the fact that they’re so ‘loud’ and not designed for beauty is in itself a statement of strong character. Her face almost looks like a mask or a doll; it evokes the feeling of a strange valley.
Then there are the environments – there is a splash that is just beautiful, but they have the courage to go above and beyond right after that with a truly breathtaking spread of Gotham as it exists today – bright lights and half-full skyscrapers highlighted in blue and pink.
Then you have Plot B, which follows the continued development of the Magistrate Program, starting with new Mayor Nakano honoring future totalitarian cyborg supercop Sean Mahoney for his truly heroic work on A-Day. And this is where I come back to this first reflection on the identity of Peacekeeper 01.
Because think about it – if Tynion had used a familiar face for Peacemaker 01, it would just be another twist we already know in advance that will ultimately be pushed back – a temporary stoppage in… anyone’s career. And not only that, but we would also already know about him, what drives him and where his story will inevitably lead.
Using Sean Mahoney, a character we first met just over two months ago, Tynion gets around all of that. We see him in his original form – just an Arkham Guard with good intentions, trying to save every life he could in an incredibly deadly attack on the asylum, seemingly sacrificing his life to do so in the process. We see him honored as a hero, but we also see how the experience has changed him, how he turns against the heroes the city relies on. More and more bitter, being recruited. We see him become the man we knew from Future State titles. And it’s just a lot more engaging than wondering how, I dunno, the Riddler becomes Peacekeeper 01 and, implicitly, when he will stop and become the Riddler again.
That’s kind of where I’m at with the new Tynion characters in general. New characters can’t reset – they don’t to have a status quo, not yet. They are always settling down and finding their place. And in the meantime they can do, or to be, Nothing at all. And that is, I won’t lie, exciting enough.
And speaking of exciting, we also have the backup with Ghost-Maker and his personal rogue gallery. Today the spotlight is on Kid Kawaii, a villain who appears like a young child but is actually a nightmarish fuel assassination robot. We learn more about Kawaii through a flashback to one of their encounters with Ghost-Maker, while also following the current Ghost-Maker who makes his way through the trapped maze that is the seat of Madam Midas.
Ghost-Maker backups are a real treat. Even though the primary function is serious, dramatic, Ghost-Maker saves are an explosion of exaggerated manga energy that comes to you at high speed, and everything related to it, from rhythm to dynamic illustration, influenced by the manga, fuels that. energy. I’m not surprised Ghost-Maker is already sniffed for a TV project; he seems to have arrived almost fully formed, with a whole world we’ve never seen… and he is, to this world, what Batman is to us.
What Tynion and Jimenez are building is, I think, something special. On its own, this Batman run is explosive, thrilling, and relentless … but it also forms the central context for the rest of the line, with bits of the story spreading like vines from book to book. Together, Gotham’s titles form a sum greater than its parts … while also building a potential new status quo as Gotham evolves from a gothic nightmare to a neon.