Review: BATMAN #87
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Guillem March
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #87: The Riddler has been lying low since his humiliating defeat as part of Bane’s army, but as costumed assassins start to make their way into Gotham City, Edward Nygma may have the answers he’s been looking for. Or at least, the answer to why Deathstroke is trying to kill him! Is it possible that Batman’s tussle with Slade Wilson was all just a ruse to get the killer closer to his true target?
With Batman #87, we start to get a better idea of the mysterious scheme that was being hinted at last issue. It appears that Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, and possibly other members of Batman’s rogues gallery made a deal with a mysterious person to design a plan for them at some time in the past. Now it seems someone is carrying out this plan.
Riddler refers to this person as “the designer” or is that “The Designer”. Comics are usually lettered in All-Caps, so it’s hard to tell if this is intended as the character’s name. It could be a descriptor being used because Tynion doesn’t reveal a name we might recognize yet. Or it could be the name of a new Batman villain.
And what is the ultimate aim of the plot? Is it to take out Batman? Or does it have some other aim that involves circumventing Batman to achieve its goal? I am also curious as to why the villains didn’t enact this plan earlier. It seems as if they abandoned the plan for some reason. But why? Did the Designer want to cross some lines that even Batman’s foes were reluctant to cross? Or perhaps the Designer’s price for the plan was higher than they wanted to pay? This is an intriguing mystery that I look forward to seeing being revealed.
Tynion and March seem to be drawing on some classic Batman eras for his interpretations of Batman’s villains. The Penguin looks somewhat like the deformed version played by Danny Devito. He seems more sinister and dangerous than he has appeared for quite a while. And he is shown taking a more active role in villainy, a side of him that hasn’t been seen much since he started the pretense of being a legitimate businessman. And Oswald’s array of trick umbrellas bring to mind his Silver and Bronze age incarnations – or that of the Adam West Batman show.
The Riddler seems to be hearkening back to his earlier incarnations as well. He seems to be devolving from the arrogant mastermind of the King era, back to the manic, obsessive villain he was in the past. He seems to have maintained his brilliance, but it appears to be eating at his sanity.
I also like that Tynion is exploring the new dynamic between Batman and Acting Police Commissioner Harvey Bullock. With James Gordon currently infected by the Batman Who Laughs, Bullock has had to step in and take charge of the GCPD. Where Batman and Gordon had developed working relationship and even a friendship, that relationship does not exist with Bullock. Harvey seems to see dealing with Batman as a necessary evil at best and would be happier without a vigilante intruding into police business. It will be interesting to see if Batman can build trust between him and Bullock like he enjoyed with Gordon.
Tynion has yet to make anything that I can identify as a misstep in this new chapter of Batman’s adventures. Some might be disappointed by the lack of Batman’s regular supporting cast, but I find it fascinating to see Bruce having to adapt to not having his familiar support network around. It’s bound to create stresses for him as he has to get used to the absence of Alfred and Commissioner Gordon, while also having to also adapt to Catwoman and Lucius Fox taking on more significant roles in his life.
Even with a new creative team at the helm, Batman remains as one of the best titles in DC’s lineup. So far, Tynion and March’s story is proving worthy of being featured in one of the company’s flagship comics.