SYNOPSIS: The battle for Straightman’s mind concludes as Batman clashes with the Joker and the Suicide Squad! Can the Dark Knight free Straightman from the clutches of the Joker or will he be lost forever to the Clown Prince of Crime?
Some jokes just don’t land.
Some stories just fall flat.
Sorry, Bat-Fans, this is one of those cases.
Now, don’t get mistaken. This story isn’t bad. It just feels disjointed.
When last we saw the Clown Prince of Crime, he had stolen the Psi-ber Helmet from the military, leaving soldiers dead in his wake, a smile stretching out their faces. Now Harley and Task Force X are on the hunt, searching every dump in Gotham that has the slightest hint of an amusement park or funhouse theme. Let’s just say they find what they are looking for, but it doesn’t go well for them.
Batman is working a different angle, trying to track down Straight Man, with the help of Gordon, the Bat Family, and…Hugo Strange. Tracking Straight Man down to an alley where he was cooking and eating rats was unexpected. So was Batman turning Straight Man over to Strange, even if Batgirl and Robin were there, too.
Things heat up when Joker uses the helmet to brainwash Task Force X to be his own personal “J-Team”. It should seem like more of a threat, but the Squad feels more like cannon fodder, thanks to the effects of the Psi-ber Helmet. They are more deadly than allowed on a Saturday morning cartoon, but the whole fight lacked punch for me, no pun intended.
If you’ve read my past reviews, you’re familiar with how strong an art team Templeton and Kubina make. That remains unchanged here. Kubina’s colors add depth to Templeton’s art, simplistic as one would expect since it is capturing the look of the animated show. There are some interesting layouts, especially when the next scene starts on the last panel of the page, making for a compelling transition as you turn it.
Story-wise, I just wasn’t connecting with anyone. The mystery of how Straight Man got the way he is has already been revealed, the mystery of who attacked Batman in part 1 and why was also wrapped up, and we were left with an empty battle against a Suicide Squad that felt like filler. Joker was fine. Batman felt kind of there and didn’t have any memorable moments for me.
I felt like this story started off pushing for greatness, but by the time it concluded the interesting ideas that launched it didn’t resonate with me. Joker running the Suicide Squad should be fun. In the end, it seemed to set up the possibility of a future suit for a certain someone down the road, delivered with an old-school BTAS ending. Your mileage may vary, but I just felt underwhelmed by a team that usually dazzles me. – Javier E. Trujillo