Batman: Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV

details
Title: Batman.
Volume: 1.
Story Arc
: Their Dark Designs.
Universe: Rebirth.
Writer(s): James Tynion IV.
Penciler(s): Tony S. Daniel, Guillem March, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, Jorge Jimenez, Rafael Albuquerque, Javier Fernandez.
Inker(s): Danny Miki.
Colourist(s): Tomeu Morey, David Baron.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
PublisherDC Comics.

Format
: Single Issues.
Release Date: October 20th, 2020.
Pages: 208.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779505569.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

With the heads of DC Comics having cut short writer Tom King’s Batman (2016) run to 85 issues instead of the promised 100, Batman: City of Bane Part II rushed to its conclusion and epitomized former Batman writer’s rocky run as he passed on the torch to writer James Tynion IV, known mostly for his implication in indie projects (The Backstagers, The Woods, Something is Killing the Children) as well a couple of DC Comics projects (Detective Comics, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Marking the 14th installment within the Rebirth era of DC Comics, this latest volume now softly reboots the critically-acclaimed Batman comic book series with a whole new chapter in Bruce Wayne’s life that picks up right after the tragic loss of his butler and his dramatic comeback against Bane. However, Batman’s new allies won’t be enough for the manipulative new scheme at play by an unusual, enigmatic, and original villain who goes by the name of The Designer.

What is Batman: Their Dark Designs about? The story picks up where things were left off as the Caped Crusader loses both a terrifying archnemesis from his incredible rogue’s gallery and a beloved longtime ally. With Lucius Fox now filling in empty shoes, Batman wishes to put into play a new design for Gotham City that might help him and the citizens of this city to bounce back from a plethora of tragedies. Unfortunately for him, someone else has a plan for Gotham City as well. Following a cookie trail leading directly to the most dangerous mercenaries in the world, including Deathstroke himself, Batman quickly realizes that he might be getting played. Collecting issues of Batman #85-94 as well as Batman Secret Files #3, the story unveils an incredible web of conspiracy and mystery that will challenge the Dark Knight’s confidence in everyone around him.

“You have a design for Gotham City, Master Bruce.
Isn’t it time the world saw it?”

— James Tynion IV

To pick up the mantle of one of the most treasured comic book series is no easy feat but writer James Tynion IV raises to the challenge as he introduces readers to a crime mystery riddled with signature detective elements as well as an iconic campy humour delivered through villain redesigns. While the constant wordplay on “design” is a bit overplayed, especially with a new villain who embraces the word in his own name, it is refreshing to watch writer James Tynion IV showcase Batman’s ludicrous yet creative gadgetry, his impeccable fighting style, and his internal struggle to grasp with this new reality where he fights crime alongside his significant other (Catwoman) and substitute-butler (Lucius Fox). The cautious build-up in this ultimate prelude to the upcoming Joker War remains efficient in establishing the foundation for a zanier scheme at play but also to set the overall tone of writer James Tynion IV’s Batman comic book run.

There is some truly ambitious characterization that almost comes off awkward, at times even turning foes into oddly-placed comedy relief, but it is nothing that truly kills the potential of this narrative as writer James Tynion IV plunges Gotham City into chaos. What impressively helps his story deliver such a thorough and elaborate execution also lies in the artwork. Despite initially teasing a creative team led by writer James Tynion IV and artist Tony S. Daniel, the latter who only contributed with pencils for issue #86, this entire story-arc required the help of multiple artists who nonetheless deliver a fantastic and engrossing artistic vision. With artist Guillem March mostly leading the charge with impressive panels that showcase his absolute understanding of Batman’s universe, as well as Tomeu Morey’s incredible grasp over the colours, shading, and patterns, I do have to mention that artist Jorge Jimenez (who returns during the Joker War story-arc) is the one artist who continues to blow my mind.

Batman: Their Dark Designs is a promising prelude to an upcoming war falling back on Batman’s fundamentals to explore his latest plight.


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17 comments

  • Wow! You weren’t kidding about the art here. That looks absolutely stunning! As you know I’m currently plunging into DC’s past and am catching up with some classic stories, but I’m not as well versed into the DC universe as you are. This does sound really good though, and it’s nice to read the fact that the current comics are still very good as well. It’s always a bit scary when a new writer takes over for a beloved series, but I’m glad it’s not a disappointment! As always this was an amazing review Lashaan! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing! And If you think this is great, wait till I put up my review for volume 2. You’ll notice all the drool over the issues in my pictures (just kidding though hahah)! Definitely glad to hear about your DC foray! There are SO MANY excellent classic/modern/new Batman stories totally worth checking out. Rest assured, you’ll never run out of stuff to catch up on hahahah Thanks for reading, Michel! I appreciate it a lot, as always! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I was hotly anticipating your opinion of the start of Tynion’s run my friend! Glad to hear this first arc was mostly well received by you, I’m in the midst of re-reading it myself and finding it better the second time around. I think it’s a solid start and Tynion is the right man for the job, it’s less inventive than what Tom King brought to the series in his best moments but a good set-up for “Joker War”. I enjoyed your comments about the ‘design’ element of the story as it’s honestly not something I’d been conscious of but totally makes sense now I think about it!

    Man, I wish Tony S. Daniel had been able to stay on for the whole arc – although March is an acceptable substitute. I’m 100% with you on Jorge Jimenez, what an exciting talent and thankfully he was able to stick with the whole of “Joker War” – artist rotation on that would have really diminished the final product!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear that a second re-read makes for an even more exciting story-arc for you. I imagine you’ve been reading them as they got released, so the wait time must have played a lot in assimilating the story as a whole. I can’t wait to share my review for Joker War though, especially with Jorge Jimenez’s art. Man, the guy can draw. His designs are too slick and mesmerizing! I’ll probably never forget what he accomplished in Snyder’s Justice League too! Thank you for reading as always, Chris! Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  • The older I get, the more I realize what an almost insurmountable job comic writers have. To write storylines that are interesting, fresh and not over the top.

    Outside of comic books, where do you see ANY entertainment “thing” last so long? I know I regularly grumble and complain in the comments about how ridiculous some of the stuff gets but I do realize the story writers seem to have an almost impossible job. My hats off to them for even trying, even when I think they completely fail (New52, I’m looking at you!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah I don’t what made you have that epiphany moment but you’re absolutely right. I personally look at these “change of hands”/”reboots” as an opportunity to either revisit past stories with new narrative or visual direction and an opportunity for new readers to jump in and discover a character without going way back to start at some sort of square one. Not all comic book runs will be extraordinary but every writer always has something different to offer and it’s just exciting to see if they can raise to the challenge or not. I can’t stop thinking that your hate for New 52 is mostly aimed at Superman (from his too young character design to his love story with Wonder Woman) hahahahah Cause, if you ask me, the New 52 Batman run by Scott Snyder remains the best thing out there! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, my hate for New52 is directly tied to Supes. All that was a travesty that should never have seen the light of day.

        and things like that are why I’ll keep complaining even while I understand the impossibility of the task 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  • When you mentioned how design is overused my first thought was a future reveal of the new butler as a plant for some new nemesis. Some of that artwork is very impressive. I enjoy viewing that even if the story isn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh boy, a plant… Hahahahahahh No, Todd. It didn’t end up being THAT insane! 😀 Thanks for reading, though. I’m glad to at least keep you up to date with what’s going on with Batman nowadays even if you have no particular intention to try these stories out for yourself! 😀

      Like

  • That art looks fantastic, and I can finally sigh with relief that King’s pestilence has been remove from Batman. I’m cautiously optimistic for Tynion, he might yet find his pace (though probably now DC will keep him on a tighter leash to refrain the franchise from too many firework displays).
    Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah so far DC seems to be quite content with what Tynion has given us since he’s still on it to this day. I don’t know if it’ll impress you any more than for me but I do hope you’ll have a fun time with it if you ever decide to jump back into exploring these Batman stories. Thanks for reading, Ola! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I enjoyed reading your take on Tynion’s first story-arc. I thought it was a good, solid start by the writer, backed up by some stunning art. Some of the panel work during the action scenes was particularly good. That fight scene with Deathstroke was brilliantly realized! I appreciate the styles of both March and Jiminez so far. As you said, the tone is a lot less serious than the majority of King’s run. To me it feels like a comic book again–you know, fun and entertaining. Some of Tynion’s dialog can be a bit hit or miss, but overall this was an enjoyable story. Another great review, Lashaan! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Joker War.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely agree with you there. The action sequences were fantastic here, making sure to have us appreciate the awesome skill set of these characters. I did find that fight with Deathstroke ended oddly and Batman trying to persuade him with words came out of nowhere though. He’s also the one I was referring to when I mention odd comedy relief too hahah And yes! It’s indeed much more comic book’ish. I’m glad that it didn’t try to pack all of it in under 5-6 issues too. I really missed those longer Batman arcs from back on the day! Can’t wait to share my thoughts on Joker War too! Thank you so much for your kind words and for checking this review out, Wakizashi! Hope you’re well!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I agree as well about the artwork. From what little you showed us here, it is full of everything! Cheers to another great review from Mr. Lashaan. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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