“Their Dark Designs” – Part Nine
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March, Rafael Albuquerque
Color Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Mild Spoilers Ahead!
Review by Eric Lee
Batman #94 is a flawed yet fun start to ‘Joker War’ with solid character bits and new concepts, while being mired in some rehashed tropes that feel slightly redundant.
The main thrust of the issue is Batman dealing with Joker’s take-over of the Wayne fortune and company. It’s a simple, but great concept. The reversal of power is punctuated by a line of dialogue in the issue that perfectly encapsulates why the premise is interesting. Not only is Batman at a huge disadvantage without his resources, but Joker now has an exponentially huge advantage, since he typically lacks resources.
Similarities to ‘City of Bane’
Of course, Batman cannot just give up. When he’s backed into a corner, he tends to fight back even harder. This character theme runs through the whole issue. Though it’s a solid character arc, it feels a little rushed.
It’s a little silly, as it’s more or less the same premise as “City of Bane”. If you recall, Gotham was taken over by Bane, who wreaked havoc on its infrastructure, leaving Batman with only his bare wits and determination to survive. Now, flash-forward less than 20 issues, and “Joker War” is shaping up to have a very similar character arc. Did Batman not learn anything from “City of Bane“? Is he learning the exact same lesson again in “Joker War”?
Despite this, the endpoint of Batman’s internal crisis is still fairly compelling. James Tynion does an amazing job setting up parallels with it and a pivotal scene from Batman: Year One. It might be borderline emotional manipulation to do this, but it makes the issue’s end so much more effective.
All grousing aside, this issue is actually really fun during the non-Batman moments. Like, the flashback to a young Bruce Wayne confronting a detective the Designer battled, is excellent. The dialogue’s snappy and clever, while succinctly relaying the main theme to readers.
The Penguin/Catwoman interaction also adds some fun ideas to Batman #94. We’re introduced to yet another really clever concept that’s so logical, it’s surprising that no one else has ever thought of it before. James Tynion seems adept to creating new ideas that fill in the holes of Gotham mythos. Despite the underwhelming reveal, the Designer is a cool concept. Same with the Broker. Tynion inserts another small concept that makes for an intriguing read.
The art by Guillem March is excellent, as usual. March has a knack for hyper-exaggerated anatomy, which mostly works. The way he frames and angles a panel always makes for a visually-captivating book.
Flashback artist Rafael Albuquerque also produces great work. While not as flashy as March’s style, Albuquerque instead produces deep dark lines and beautiful composition, which work perfectly as flashback sequences.
Batman #94 is a mostly enjoyable issue. It makes for a better read in a vacuum, not having read the comics prior to Tynion’s run. However, knowing the context of the comic, it makes it a little less special, and runs dangerously close to being redundant. It’s still too early to tell how “Joker War” will shake out yet, but this start may run the risk of being a retread of “City of Bane”.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment