Batman #140 Review: The Dark Knights Return

Batman #140 review header

In Batman #140 from DC Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Jorge Jimenez and Mike Hawthorne, Batman takes on an army of himself — and The Joker.

We reviewed the book on the Stack podcast. But in the interest of highlighting more about the title, here’s a summary of the conversation with our thoughts. And if you prefer the longer audio version, that’s below as well!

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Batman #140 Review:

Batman is fighting a war on two fronts. Trapped in his own mind, he’s confronting an army of Batman of Zur eh Arhhs from throughout the multiverse. In the “real” world, his version of Zur is aiming to kill The Joker. How does it all turn out? Not well, broseph. Spoilers here: at the end of the issue, Batman wakes up not knowing where The Joker is, and with Zur eh Arhh having transferred his mind to the unstoppable robot body of Failsafe.

Host Justin Tyler lauded Zdarsky for building on what Grant Morrison himself built into the Batman mythology, and then “doubling down and layering” on top of it.

Alex Zalben added on to that thought, saying how often Morrison will dig up some forgotten bit of lore from the ’60s or ’70s and work it into modern comics, or throw in a wild twist. But that when most comic book writers try to pick up on his concepts, they just don’t work. On Chip Zdarsky’s run, though, Zalben said, “[This] is the first time that I’ve seen somebody pick up on a Grant Morrison concept, and it works.”

Continuing on that, Zalben noted that despite the presence of riffs on every Batman in film and comics history, from Michael Keaton, to Adam West, to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman, “it should feel Easter egg-y, but it’s not because it’s there in service of the story… This is one of the most successful runs I’ve read in my lifetime where… It feels like Batman might lose.”

Tyler agreed, noting that Batman has been losing nearly non-stop since Zdarsky took over the title, going back to the initial Failsafe arc. “You’ve wrecked him, unabashedly,” Tyler said. “I like all of that.”

That said, Tyler did wonder why we’ve been distanced so much from “Bruce the character… We’re never in his head.”

On the backup story, which finds Vandal Savage (probably) teaming up with the Court of Owls to run for Police Commissioner of Gotham City, Zalben lauded Zdarsky for “bringing all of his arcs together… I love the idea of being ina. place where you’re taking all of these elements of Batman mythology, and I do not know where we’re going. That’s great.”

Finishing up, Tyler compared this run to Zdarsky’s run over on Daredevil, “where it was just really savage. It was savage to the character, and it feels like he’s doing that here… You don’t get that very often. There’s always a little bit of love in Batman, because everyone wants to write Batman. But Chip’s like, ‘I’ll kill this guy, you don’t even know.'”

Batman #140 Official Synopsis:

BATMAN VS. A LEGION OF…HIMSELF! It’s Batman versus The Joker in their most brutal fight of all time. But wait…Batman is also battling a legion of himself! What has Zur done? And who will walk away? The brutal “Mindbomb” continues!

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