“Their Dark Designs” – Part Five
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Jorge Jimenez
Color Artist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Mild Spoilers Ahead!
Review by Eric Lee
In Batman #90, Catwoman reveals a dark secret from her villain days in visually stunning, but slightly disappointing way.
The Catwoman/Batman conflict comes to a head in this issue. Like I said previously, it’s easily the most intriguing plot point of the story arc. Writer James Tynion IV wisely chose to focus on this specific narrative for the majority of this issue, so much so that the comic kind of forgets about the assassins plot. In fact, Deathstroke is hilariously regulated to little more than an after-thought here.
The drama of Catwoman’s secret ties directly into new villain, the Designer, and consequently the main narrative. The jury’s still out on who the Designer is, but so far he looks promising. The idea of a villain being a consultant to other villains is a fun idea.
Introducing The Designer
Tynion’s introduction to the Designer is intriguing without being too overbearing. Too often writers have the new villain kill or defeat a more established villain to show what a credible threat they are. That’s lazy writing, because it tears down other characters to build up how “awesome” this new one is. Tynion sort of skirts that line when introducing the Designer. Fortunately, he comes up a much better twist by revealing that the Joker was influenced by the Designer to continually escalate his crimes. This is a ret-con that does not take away from any previous history and makes it feel logical in the context of the Designer. It’s elegant and clever.
A Disappointing Reveal
With that being said, the whole secret that Catwoman was hiding from Batman is underwhelming. It’s not bad or anything, in fact the plot that she revealed is actually a cool story idea. It’s more like I’m a victim of unrealistic reader expectations. After issues of a tense, scared Catwoman, it seems out-of-character for her to be shaken by a relatively-mundane secret. Some readers may think that the secret is deeply disturbing and threatens to break Batman and her apart, but I found it kind of… meh. Similarly, so does Batman. It’s a missed opportunity to not quite fully exploit the rich dramatic tension of the conflict. He essentially reacts with a shrug and then moves onto the next thing.
What’s not “meh” is Jorge Jimenez’s gorgeous art. His style is cartoony enough to be dynamic and fluid, while still being ultra-detailed. His art pops wonderfully, while still following DC’s standard style. The best part is when Jimenez exaggerates things to an unrealistic degree to heighten the drama. Like, the Designer’s fur mane is unnecessarily big. But, combined with the villain’s hunched over posture highlights this imposing figure.
While Tynion’s storyline is coming together with a promising hook, the main “twist” of the issue was a little pedestrian. Still, combined with amazing art, Batman #90 is a step in a more interesting direction for the title.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment