While the Crown Prince of Crime gets the better of Batman, another member of the Batfamily gets one over on the Joker in the war’s official opening salvo.

Batman 95
Written by James Tynion IV
Pencils and Inks by Jorge Jimenez
Colors by Tomeu Morey

Batgirl 47
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Pencils and Inks by Robbi Rodriguez
Colors by Jordie Bellaire

The countdown to the 100th issue of this iteration of Batman is consumed with another in a series of “final battles” with his arch-nemesis The Joker, and it all kicked off in earnest this week. The grinning madman has all the information he needs to take Batman to the brink. With the knowledge of the Dark Knight Detective’s true identity in hand, Joker has been systematically tearing Wayne down in order to final destroy Batman.

Joker took control of Wayne Enterprises, seized all of Batman’s gadgets and is working to weaken his enemy with every move.

The opening issue of Tynion’s Joker War sets the stage well for someone who stopped reading at the end of TOM KING‘s run on the book. The writer does a great job of weaving exposition into the story advancement, and things look pretty dire for our hero. But he’s been through this before. Joker is stealing tactics from some of Batman’s other rogues, like Bane and the Riddler, to break down Batman’s defenses before striking the final blow.

But the Bat is pretty resourceful and with the help of his allies – including the recently deceased Alfred – I’m sure he’ll find a way out of it. As long as his allies survive. The Joker has already taken over Nightwing’s brain and forced him to be an ally. He also tries to take out Batman’s other longest-running ally, Batgirl, but that doesn’t go as well for him.

Joker has a long history with Barbara Gordon. He’s the reason she spent time in a wheelchair as Oracle, after shooting Babs in the stomach in an effort to torture Commissioner James Gordon in The Killing Joke. Joker returns to the scene of the crime here to take control of the implant in Babs’ spine to force her into helping him, but Batgirl is a bit more formidable an opponent.

With her fists and feet failing her, Barbara needs to find another way to survive her encounter with Joker. She uses her best asset – her brains – to overcome the madman’s attack, and it’s one of the most satisfying takedowns of the Joker I’ve ever read. Babs finds a way to psychologically attack the psychopath and throw him off his game, giving her a chance to take him down.

I absolutely love that the Joker just has his way with Nightwing and he’s making Batman kind of look like a fool, but he can’t really handle Batgirl. Sure, Babs took a beating, but the end of the issue had both Joker and Barbara Gordon down, somewhat incapacitated, which is more than Dick Grayson or Bruce Wayne could handle.

How will Joker react to being bested by Batgirl? And how will Bruce Wayne continue with Joker having the advantage over him? Joker War is looking like it’s going to be a lot of fun.