Story Arc: Their Dark Designs.
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.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Single Issues.
Release Date: October 20th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
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.