Clownhunter has unexpectedly become one of the DCU’s most interesting new additions. In Batman Annual #5, we get to see the tragedy that created him, as well as hope for his future.
It’s a straightforward origin story to end the rocky year of Batman on, but it’s also one full of hope, and maybe a promise of redemption. It’s a strong character story with a twist. It comes to us by James Tynion IV, James Stokoe, and Clayton Cowles.
Leslie Thompkins returns home late one night to find an unwelcome guest- the young vigilante known as Clownhunter, bruised, battered and in need of her help. She agrees to patch him up, but in exchange for him telling her his story. Naturally, the young man obliges and reveals his past…
The story is straightforward, but it gives Tynion an opportunity to shine with his excellent character work. He hasn’t been able to stretch his muscles like this as much in Batman, and here we see Bao Pham as a person for the first time. He’s actually developed as a human being, with desires and flaws, instead of the plot device he’s largely been since his introduction. However, if there is a shortcoming in the issue, Tynion does give Harley Quinn an out in his origin story that felt a bit too convenient to me.
Stokoe always puts in great work and this issue is no exception. Every page is dynamic, and he creates the most engaging layouts, both in more standard pages and some of the extremely unconventional ones. His Joker is extremely scary, evoking manga style horror monsters rather than the slimy villain or the unhinged madman. His Batman is a massive figure, and it makes him feel like a mythological dark avenger. It’s worth picking up the issue on his work alone.
Clownhunter promises to be a big figure in the DCU in the coming year. After this issue I’m definitely way more interested to see what that means.
Batman Annual #5 is available now from DC Comics.
Clownhunter’s origin is revealed in a visually stunning issue.