Batman (Vol. 1): Failsafe by Chip Zdarsky

Title: Batman.
Story Arc: Failsafe.
Universe: Infinite Frontier.
Writer(s): Chip Zdarsky.
Artist(s): Jorge Jiménez, Belén Ortega (short story) & Leonardo Romero (short story).
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey, Luis Guerrero (short story) & Jordie Bellaire (short story).
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: March 1st, 2023.
Pages: 176.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779519931.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Sometimes you need to be five steps ahead if you’re not to encounter an unwelcomed surprise. Life can turn out to be a game with devastating consequences without exploring worse-case scenarios and elaborating contingency plans. For the Dark Knight, such plans need to be devised when it comes to the world’s finest heroes. Despite their pure intent to save the world, it only takes one bad day to see them turn against those that they serve and protect. And with that kind of mindset, plans need to be laid out to stop himself if he’s to ever veer too deep into the darkness. Now the lead writer of the canonical Batman comic book series, Chip Zdarsky (Spider-Man: Life Story, Daredevil, Jughead) teams up with artist Jorge Jiménez (Justice League, Batman) to continue the legacy of the Caped Crusader in this latest volume, collecting Batman #125-130, as Gotham’s guardian of the night faces off against a startling new enemy, a nightmare of his own making.

What is Batman (Vol. 1): Failsafe about? Gotham is changing. The wealthy are not safe anymore, hunted by a predator who has twisted the narrative in his favour to justify his acts. When Batman (Bruce Wayne), already tormented by nightmares of a future he can’t stop, witnesses Robin (Tim Drake) go through a near-death experience, unearthing terrible tragedies from deep within his mind, he goes after the person behind it all only to inadvertently fall into a trap where he’s framed for murder. Unaware to all, this triggers the activation of Failsafe, a programmed AI machine hidden away within the recesses of the Bat cave with only one mission: to put an end to Batman when he crosses the line. What follows is a story of survival as Batman attempts to fight off against a machine that harnesses all of his strengths without restraints or weaknesses.

“No. It’s the hardest part of this job… This city wants to die.”

— Chip Zdarsky

It might not be a perfect return to form but writer Chip Zdarsky has given fans the first solid Batman story in a very long time. Right from the get-go, he establishes a vulnerable Batman ruminating on his recent nightmares and the fear of being unable to stop the worse from happening to those around him, those who put their lives in his hands to fight a war he originally wanted to embrace alone. Serving as a spiritual expansion on creator Mark Waid’s JLA: Tower of Babel, this volume introduces a fearsome new enemy born from Batman’s own fear of himself if he was ever to do the unthinkable, to cross that line he has always set for himself and his allies, that is to never kill. Being now framed for murder, this unstoppable freight train in the form of an indestructible AI machine, he must outthink himself to put an end to this chaos generated by Failsafe, a devastating force that does not hesitate to put his loved ones at risk, no matter the costs.

Writer Chip Zdarsky wonderfully ups the stakes in this tale, drawing in help from all kinds of corners of the world, allowing readers to better gauge the devastating strength of Failsafe as he faces off against countless of Batman’s greatest allies; sure, some heroes do get destroyed too easily but watching it all unfold is loads of fun, especially to discover the how it gets it done. Readers are also rewarded with a neat reference to a classic character known as Zur-En-Arrh, as Batman is forced to hide away from the psychological attacks by calling upon help within his subconscious. Although the thrilling pace amidst the constant action makes for an engaging and exciting story, making readers restlessly wonder how the Caped Crusader will succeed in stopping this AI from wreaking havoc, there are some nagging plot holes or illogical instances that do take you out of certain moments. Nevertheless, these moments are too few and inconsequential to deter readers from appreciating this exciting new story told by writer Chip Zdarsky, especially with the crazy cliffhanger by the end of this volume.

“Tell me the truth, dammit. In a world where you know every move… Who stops The Batman?”

— Chip Zdarsky

Where no complaint whatsoever can be done is in the artwork department. Having always been a die-hard fan of his artistic style, artist Jorge Jiménez achieves once more a gorgeous portrayal of Batman’s universe. From his ability to depict emotions to portray movement, it is astonishing what he achieves in this volume, from environmental to character designs, with only writer Chip Zdarsky’s quality material to work with. The fantastic colouring by Tomeu Morey also elevates the artwork to undisputable grounds of exquisite visual storytelling. As if the action-packed narrative wasn’t already enough, the artwork in this volume makes it all even more exciting to read through. In fact, even the two short stories drawn respectively by artists Belén Ortega and Leonardo Romero have excellent artwork that brilliantly fits with the stories being told there. If anything, it is a relief to find artist Jorge Jiménez coming back for this volume, giving readers at least one sure thing to love in this new series.

As mentioned, this volume also contains two short stories. The first story, titled Two Birds, One Throne, follows Catwoman who is tasked by The Executor in finding 10 specific people for the reading of a major villain’s death. The second story, titled I Am the Gun, is a Year One story for Zur-En-Arrh, giving readers the chance to better understand the origin behind the personality splitting of The Batman as he goes after The Joker, as the story explores the age-old conflict of either stopping the Clown Prince of Crime definitively or to live with the idea that he may escape and take more lives. Both written by Chip Zdarsky, these stories turned out to be surprisingly complementary, original, and just as engaging as the main story, which is in itself quite uncommon in previous story arcs helmed by other writers. Not only do they tie into the main narrative wonderfully, but they also delve into some of the characters’ motives and actually add something useful and consequential to ongoing events.

Batman (Vol. 1): Failsafe is an action-packed and visually breath-taking high-stake survival story pushing the psychological and physical limits of the Dark Knight against an almost invincible fail-safe.



14 thoughts on “Batman (Vol. 1): Failsafe by Chip Zdarsky

  1. I have one name:

    Whatever happened to Batman and Superman being best buds and also being aware they were safeguards should the other go over the line?

    Now, is Failsafe programmed to get Batman arrested, or killed? Because if it is trying to kill Batman, then I’d say Batman did a poor job of programming. If he won’t kill the Joker, why would he try to get himself killed?

    But other than that, it is really good to see you read a good story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spoilery-talk: Superman of course makes an appearance in this one and they have a one-on-one about this AI problem. Batman admits that Superman is his safeguard hahah But Failsafe also knows how to stop Superman too but it won’t kill him. So Failsafe is programmed to only kill Batman when his program detects through the Internet/media that he’s committed a crime. Alfred is supposed to correct the program if there are false positives (like right now with the framed murder) but Alfred is dead. Failsafe won’t kill anyone else unless they get in his way. So he’s only programmed to stop anyone in their tracks and make them unable to assist Batman in surviving Failsafe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. See, that is what I don’t get. Why is Batman willing to have himself killed, because he killed one person, while he won’t kill the Joker who has killed untold thousands? That’s a rhetorical question 🙂

        But inconsistencies like that are why I have problems with todays major super hero comics. they become whatever the current guy in charge says instead of being their own real character.

        And Alfred is still dead eh? That’s too bad.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Holy Moley! A Batman comic rated greater than 2 stars?!?!! YES!!! It sounds like an interesting concept for a story, too. Glad to see you enjoyed it. Perhaps the downward trend in story quality is finally turning around.

    Liked by 1 person

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