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Batman (DC Comics)

BATMAN (2016- ) #89 review

Batman #90 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

The mysterious master criminal known only as the Designer once brought together Gotham City’s greatest criminals to plot the perfect crime, and now his plan has been unleashed upon the city in all its might. Batman will go to any length to uncover the grand design, but Catwoman is the one who holds the greatest secret. If Batman wins against the Designer, he will lose everything.

Review

There’s absolutely no denying that James Tynion IV has injected some fresh blood in to the Batman series. four issues in to his run and this feels like the polar opposite to Tom King’s “City of Bane”. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of mission statement and scope.

This latest issue of Tynion’s Batman still feels incredibly rooted in the recent continuity and I’m impressed at his reverence for the relationship between Bruce and Selina.

In fact, this latest issue brings the story full circle back to their relationship but also to the early days of their careers are vigilante and villain.

Leading up to this issue the Tynion run has focussed on setting up The Designer as an “off-screen” villain. Someone pulling the strings of Catwoman, Joker, Riddler and Penguin. But here he finally takes centre stage as the machinations behind his plans are revealed.

The issue plays out partly in the present day, but most in flashbacks as Selina narrates the story of how she and the other A-List villains became involved with The Designer with Tynion finally pulling back the curtain on his new, original character.

The present day scenes remain very much focussed on the emotional fallout of Selina’s involvement and portray some great emotional writing from Tynion as well as equally striking imagery from Jimenez and Morey.

The flashback story allows the creative team to bring the group of villains together and illustrate more of their interactions with each other. I don’t find this is an aspect which has been heavily focussed upon, particularly during the King run on Batman. Yet another example of how Tynion is already differentiating his time with The Dark Knight.

What’s particularly interesting in this issue is seeing versions of these characters in a very early stage of their careers. Catwoman in the purple costume is a great throwback to early appearances by the character and she is able to pull serious focus, even from Joker. The concept of Joker being at an early stage of his career also feels fresh for a character who has arguably been done to death.

With Todd Philips rejuvenating the character on the big screen this feels like a similar reinvention if only for a handful of scenes. Bringing in The Designer and making the focal point of the flashbacks be his plan to help each villain elevate their status gives the issue a great hook. It opens up plenty of new questions around the Joker. Could this be a brand new trigger point in his descent in to madness?

It certainly leaves the read with plenty of lingering questions. As we watch The Designer’s layer burning to the ground, Catwoman narrates “It was my first time seeing what kind of evil he was going to become.” It perfectly embodies the fear that the story harbours.

Outside of the flashbacks there’s still some great emotional impact to the story. Tynion has allowed Bruce and Selina to maintain a grown up relationship particularly as the two confront her involvement in The Designer’s plans.

Rather than break the couple or thrown particularly huge roadblocks to their happiness, Tynion is allowing the characters to confront their issues from an adult perspective. Whilst the issue does leave them on a cliffhanger, it seems that Bruce has learnt to accept her past even when it stands at odds with his ideals.

As always Jorge Jiminez and Tomeu Morey bring their A-game to the look of Batman. There colour palette is particularly striking in this issue as we see the colours of the villains classic costumes.

Verdict

Tynion continues his run on Batman by bringing things full circle back to the beginning. This is brilliantly fleshes out the concept of The Designer as well as adding more layers to the relationship between Bruce and Selina.

8/10

Batman #90 is written by James Tynion IV with pencils and inks by Jorge Jimenez, colours are by Tomeu Morey. Jimenez and Morey also provide cover artwork.

Batman #90 cover art by Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey

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