Gotham is a city of pain. Batman comics have driven this point home numerous times. We’re also intimately familiar with the Dark Knight’s philosophy around violence: killers don’t deserve to be killed. But of course, not everyone is Bruce Wayne, and not every Gothamite’s experiences would lead them to adopt the same beliefs. This is where two of Gotham’s newest vigilantes, Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter, come in. Created during James Tynion IV’s two-year run on Batman, Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter are two Asian American vigilantes who represent the growing diversity of the Bat-Family.

The Premise:

Ghost-Maker/Clownhunter by James Tynion IV collects a series of backup stories about the two characters, in addition to other one-shots published during Tynion’s run. Clownhunter is a Vietnamese American teenager named Bao Pham who first met Batman on the night the Joker murdered his parents in their family restaurant. Adopting the Clownhunter persona, Bao bravely but brutally takes on the Joker’s goons with a scrappy outfit of kneepads, elbow pads, a helmet with a mohawk, and a baseball bat with a Batarang secured to it—his Bat-Bat.

Ghost-Maker (Minkhoa Khan) and Batman go way back, a relationship later explored in Chip Zdarsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s Batman: The Knight series. While Bruce has an aversion to killing, Ghost-Maker doesn’t, because he’s a psychopath and doesn’t experience empathy. And while psychopathy gets a bad rap in Batman comics particularly, it doesn’t make Ghost-Maker a bad person. He just experiences the world differently. As Ghost-Maker, Minkhoa wants to prove that he can be a better, more efficient vigilante than Batman himself.

Let’s Talk Talent:

As the title of the book tells us, James Tynion IV is the main writer behind Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker’s adventures here. During his time on Batman, Tynion introduced a plethora of new characters into Gotham City. Arguably, Batman thrives most when he’s surrounded by colorful figures, and this is exactly the type of energy that Tynion’s Batman brought. Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker are two of my favorite new characters from Tynion’s run because they each fulfilled a niche type of persona that I wasn’t seeing elsewhere in the DC Universe.

Tynion is joined by Ed Brisson, who wrote the Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 and the Batman 2022 Annual #1 one-shots. Brisson’s work on both Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker’s stories led to the launch of his Batman Incorporated series with artist John Timms. Batman Incorporated centered on a protégé from Ghost-Maker’s past who wants nothing more than to get revenge on his old mentor, which is exactly the type of drama we crave in a Bat-Family book. So, if you enjoy this collection of Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter stories, do not miss Brisson and Timms’s Batman Incorporated.

The artists on the book are James Stokoe, Ricardo López Ortiz, Rosi Kämpe and John Timms. James Stokoe’s art on the first two Clownhunter stories are not to be missed. He presents Clownhunter’s origin with a visceral energy that’s impossible to look away from. The same can be said for López Ortiz’s work on the Ghost-Maker backup stories. He renders the character’s technological underpinnings with a cyberpunk edge.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • Clownhunter is punk rock through and through. His design suits the fact that he’s just a seventeen-year-old kid from the Narrows, while also generating his own unique visual interest. He feels like someone you might know.
  • As much as we love Nightwing and Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl for their elegant fighting prowess, Clownhunter’s methods as a scrappy brawler are a refreshing change of pace. Ever since Jason Todd died, Batman has been meticulous about training his protégés, but Clownhunter is all rage. That rough-around-the-edges energy makes him unpredictable on the page.
  • Similarly, Ghost-Maker’s design pops beautifully. His look was designed by Batman artist Jorge Jiménez, who pulled from his love of manga to give the character his unique costume. For a city as filthy as Gotham, one of the bravest things you can do as a vigilante is wear a white costume. His billowy outfit makes him practically float across his panels. I have an action figure of Ghost-Maker sitting by my desk as I write this. 
  • Since it is AAPI Heritage Month, one thing I appreciate about both Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker is that they’re not burdened by expectations of having to be “good representation.” They’re not here to entertain Model Minority expectations and that’s what makes them so human. As an AAPI myself, all I want is to see nuanced characters from my community, and Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker deliver on those fronts.

Why It’s Worth Your Time:

Listen, Batman’s influence looms large in the DC Universe, but he’s not the only vigilante working in Gotham City. And while my love and interest in Batman doesn’t have a ceiling, I understand when other fans say that they feel a little oversaturated by him. This is why stories focusing on individual members of the Bat-Family feel crucial. There are an endless number of stories that can be told in Gotham without Batman—in fact, that can only be told without Batman. And this is certainly one of them.

If you’re looking to see another side of Gotham through the eyes of two new characters, then Ghost-Maker/Clownhunter by James Tynion IV is your book. The book is also a launchpad for the stellar Batman Incorporated series, so there are more adventures to follow these characters on if you grow to love them as much as I do. Let’s hope that we’ll see much more of Clownhunter and Ghost-Maker in the future.

Ghost-Maker/Clownhunter by James Tynion IV is available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and digital retailers as a softcover graphic novel. It can also be read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Jules Chin Greene writes about comics for, and his work can also be found at Nerdist, Popverse and Multiverse of Color. You can follow him on Twitter and Bluesky at @JulesChinGreene.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Jules Chin Greene and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.