SYNOPSIS: Bruce Wayne’s difficult journey to become Batman continues as he travels to Northern Canada seeking a mastery of weapons and marksmanship from a legendary hunter. Bruce’s companion, however, will reveal a lethal secret that could jeopardize the entire mission…
If you’re a fan of comic book Batman, you know he doesn’t like guns.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to use one.
Chip Zdarsky continues his epic redefining of how Bruce Wayne went from knight to Dark Knight as we cross the halfway point of his tale.
Bruce, with “Anton”, the future vigilante who is known as “Ghost Maker”, at his side, tracks down the renowned marksman, Luka Jungo, to British Columbia to learn all they can so they can be better than those they hunt. Anton is enthusiastic about learning, maybe a little too much when it comes to moving targets and guns.
This issue comes out at a time when the debate on gun control is once again in the news. Tragedy has caused Luka to abandon the gun, a tragedy that echoes Bruce’s own. While he and Bruce have strong feelings about firearms, the story does not feel like it’s preaching. Instead, Zdarsky emphasizes again why Bruce chooses not to use guns or take life. While the training is abhorrently necessary for him, he endures the trauma it recreates in his mind to hopefully spare someone his fate.
“Anton” on the other hand, comes off as a sociopath, even branded a psychopath by Luka. If the goal was to make Ghost Maker more likable, Zdarsky has failed. I do have better insight into his character, but this story just makes me more baffled as to why Batman entrusts him with so much in the present day.
While Batman has certainly forgiven killers like Damian for their past transgressions and offered second chances, I feel like Ghost Maker is a step beyond that as I can’t think of any remorse on his behalf. It seems like only his shared history with Bruce’s origins gains him a pass. Even though this is a prequel, the standoff towards the end still comes off as tense, given the moral ambiguity of “Anton”. It’s some top-notch storytelling.
Art-wise, it’s the usual fine work by artist Di Giandomenico with standout colors by Plascencia. The shadow work is again strong. I’d love to see this get a Noir edition from DC when it gets time to be collected. A pivotal scene is the aforementioned standoff and the initial resolution is depicted with a stark horror that shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
This was another riveting issue for me, one that really puts Bruce through the emotional ringer. It does feel a little short, but it is no less powerful, featuring an important turning point in young Bruce’s quest in becoming The Batman. – Javier E. Trujillo