Japan's New 'Batman' Manga Is Crazy (In A Good Way)
When Japan does their own manga takes on American superheroes, the results are… different. Not horrendous but definitely different. And I know that that's exactly what your parents told you as a kid when you asked why the other children were calling you ugly, but it happens to be true in this particular case. From a constantly crying Hulk to a Spider-Man comic that drops more bodies than a clumsy midwife, most superhero manga is only enjoyable for its novelty. But then there's Batman: Justice Buster.
Not to be confused with the Justice Buster Batsuit from the American comics, which Batman built in case he ever needed to kill the entire Justice League, all while wondering why they never invite him to more after-work hangs, Justice Buster is … a lot. It's a new series by Tomohiro Shimoguchi and Eiichi Shimizu, the two people behind the Ultraman manga, who took the titular alien/human hybrid and turned him into a guy in a power suit. So in Justice Buster, they turn Batman into a guy in a power suit because, hey, always play to your strength, kids.
In this comic, Batman has only been around for three years and is meeting a lot of his most iconic villains for the first time. And when he finally meets Two-Face, he will probably end up accidentally killing him because this Batsy is swinging around Gotham in an overpowered Iron Man suit minus the thrusters AND his cape. His cape is actually retractable and only pops out in an emergency, which is why Edna Mode probably keeps a picture of this batsuit right next to her vibrator. This new batsuit is so clearly inspired by the Iron Man armor, it even has its own Jarvis, an AI program called "Robin," which, weirdest of all, can take away control of the suit from Bruce.
In one scene, Batman tries launching his grappling hook at Point A, but the suit disables the weapon after its analysis showed that Point A was probably boobytrapped. Which, you know, is cool, but here's the problem with that. For decades, the joke was that when people asked, "Who would win? Batman or Godzilla with Superman's powers and lightsabers for teeth?" geeks would respond with "How much prep-time does Batman have?" To outsource Batman's analytical mind (his only superpower) to a machine which OF COURSE will eventually turn evil is … definitely a choice. As is making Joker a superhero.
Now the Joker has been a good guy in comics before, but it was almost always in an alternative universe where Batman and the rest of the Justice League are evil. Here, it's regular Batman and a vigilante Joker whose superhero suit is a literal suit, trench coat, and, honestly, kind of a cool mask.
His superpowers are knives and stabbings. Also, he has a weird '90s cop comedy thing going with Batman, calling himself his partner, and Batman always denying it because Joker kills his villains. Again, with knives. Because justice is when you stab the right people.
Actually, true to its name, the idea of "justice" is one of the most interesting parts of Justice Buster. In one chapter of the manga, Batman tells Superman that, in his eyes, "justice" is just a form of "violence." According to him, everyone has their own idea of justice, and "the law" is what people created to stop everyone from killing each other under the guise of this poorly defined, non-universal thing. As such, Batman straight up says that he views himself as a criminal breaking the law but does what he does because there are superpowered criminals out there who need a good face-fisting, and he has the armored fists to do it. Justice doesn't come into it because it basically doesn't exist. It's one of the main reasons why Socrates would have an anger-induced heart attack if he ever read Justice Buster. That was a recommendation on my part, by the way.
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Top Image: Kodansha