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Batman Annual 5 Main

"Batman Annual #5" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Comics

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Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by James Stokoe
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
2020, 35 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on December 29th, 2020

Review:

We've seen Clownhunter in action during “Joker War,” mercilessly killing the goons wreaking havoc for the Clown Prince of Crime. How did this kid get to that point? What pushed him over the edge, driving him to deliver his own form of justice? Batman Annual #5 explores just that in a deep conversation with the newcomer and Dr. Leslie Thompkins.

I'm going to tell you this right up front: You need to read this comic for James Stokoe's artwork alone. Everything else is gravy compared to these amazing pages. No one else draws comics like Stokoe. The characters have such emotion to them, so you get a true sense of what they're feeling. The panel layouts guide the eye perfectly, telling a story with the images alone. The flow to them is breathtaking.

Even something as simple as a tea kettle whistling has some energy to it. Letterer Clayton Cowles wraps the sound effect around the object, making it stand out on the page. Soon after, there's a crash of a broken window and the sound breaks out of the panel while guiding you down the hallway to investigate.

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Stokoe makes Batman look just as scary as the Joker in this Annual. We first see the Dark Knight as part of Dr. Thompkins' narration as she heads into her clinic. The hero rises up from his origin story in a cauldron of bats with red, bleeding eyes staring down at the bad guys he'll take down during his never-ending war on crime. The sky is a bright red, like it's been tinged with blood. It's perfect.

Later on, the Joker shows up looking a bit like a pirate with a big floppy hat. Despite his silly appearance, his smile is what creates the unease. It's way too large, at times opening up extra wide, as if it can swallow you whole. This effect is even more extreme on the victims of his Joker gas.

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Click images to enlarge

This is where Clownhunter is born. He has a similar origin to Batman, but he chooses to do things differently than the Caped Crusader. Writer James Tynion IV explores the contrast between the two, as well as Batman's failings to bring this kid the justice he deserves. A similar dynamic played out when Jason Todd came back to life. How can you watch someone like the Joker kill a Robin, or in this case, a boy's parents, and not put the villain down for good? Every other life he takes is on your hands.

This issue could be Clownhunter's first steps towards redemption and dealing with the pure rage that has fueled his war on Joker and his goons up until this point. He's right in that these folks need to pay for their crimes, but does that mean with their lives? There's some introspective stuff at play in this issue and it's helped set this character apart in Tynion's run on the series so far. It's clear there's a lot more to Clownhunter and I'm very interested to see where he goes next.

Grades:

Story: threeandahalfstars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Cover
Tfaw Buy Button
Art: fivestars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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