Primarily set up for future events, Batman #106 can become a bit tedious, and would have benefitted from 30 pages rather than 22.
This review of Batman #106 contains some minor spoilers.
It seems there is a new arc beginning in this issue of Batman’s ongoing series. The cold open shows us a new horrific Scarecrow, but he is up to his usual fear-based tricks. Some poor hostage is being put through the wringer, ala Clockwork Orange, but it is a subplot that will no doubt be further addressed in the next issue. Needless to say, Jorge Jimenez has put a spin on the classic villain that includes nasty syringes for nails on his hands.
Incidentally, the title of this current storyline seems to refer to the idea that Batman had way back in his first outing, where he decides that “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot”.
By the fourth page of Batman #106, Batman is in hot pursuit of members of The Unsanity Collective, who seem to be targeting artwork, and their leader Master Wyze has spent the last few months urging everyone to join their movement.
There’s a nice action scene, with Ghost Maker helping out, and Bats taking down a glider in Robinson Park, before sending a message to the rest of the Collective.
There’s a cameo of Harley, of course, and we switch scenes to Midtown, where Mr. Saint is pitching for his new task force for Gotham: The Magistrate Program. Peacekeepers who are there to assist GCPD in taking down supervillains and Mayor Nakano is giving it a lot of thought. This idea is the one presented to us in the recent Future State Batman books.
Around about now, Tynion devotes a few more pages to exposition to set up more subplots, and there’s a last page reveal that I won’t spoil for you here.
Batman #106 is pretty much all set up for future events. As a result, it becomes a little slow and tedious. I know that setting up plot threads is of course a necessary evil, but pacing wise, these sort of issues have to be expertly paced to carry the reader through to the end of the book and retain their interest, and I felt that things just seemed to run into a bit of a swamp in its second half.
Luckily, the art is strong enough to help things out, and the use of color adds depth to the presentation, but all in all, this is a slow burn that has probably been written for the trade and will pay off in subsequent issues.
I should probably mention that there is a backup story here, in the form of “Demon Or Detective: Part One”, by Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov. It focuses on Talia and Damien, takes place in Markovia, and is an 8-page addition that was all pretty standard fare and I have forgotten about even as I write this sentence.
With the main story only 22 pages, I would have rather had a 30-page Batman story that may have given Tynion more time and space to flesh out his opening act and include a few more moments with Batman that would have helped the pacing of the issue.
On the plus side, my issue arrived with a great wrap-around variant cover, and let’s face it, ain’t that really what a lot of purchases are based on these days?