Review: BATMAN #89
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman #89: Batman must stop Deathstroke from killing the mayor of Gotham City! But to do so he has to figure out who ordered the hit in the first place. If his four main suspects aren’t ’fessing up to the crime, then is there someone even more sinister lurking in the shadows waiting to deliver the coup de grâce? Whoever it is, one victim will fall under their attack!
Batman #89 brings us the debut of two new members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery: the Designer and Punchline. We don’t really know much about Punchline yet. Apparently, she’s taken Harley Quinn’s place as the Joker’s female sidekick. I can’t help but wonder how Harley’s going to react to being replaced. But, we likely won’t have to wait long, given Harley’s presence in this story arc. I am sure that Tynion is planning a memorable first encounter between Harley and Punchline.
The story has been dropping hints about the Designer over the past few issues, but this is the first time we actually see what he looks like. I must say that the Designer’s costume is… unique. It has a military influence with medals and camouflage pants, combined with a pimp coat, and a full face mask sporting a calligraphic letter “D”. Whatever kind of Designer he is, he isn’t much of a fashion designer. But outlandish costumes are de rigueur for Batman villains.
I did like how Tynion makes use of the Riddler’s propensity for creating puzzles and Batman’s ability to solve them as a means for the former to communicate information about his encounter with the Designer to the latter. The Riddler knew exactly how to leave a message that could only be found and understood by the Dark Knight.
The epilogue in Batman #85 heavily implied that the Joker is aware of Batman’s secret identity, and that he has finally decided to put that knowledge to use. This issue confirms that dramatically in the final panel, where we see the Clown Prince of Crime before a bulletin board of pictures of the Bat-Family. The labels make it clear that the Joker knows all their secret identities.
I find it somewhat ironic that although it’s Superman that has gone public as Clark Kent, Batman is the DC hero that is facing the impending threat of his arch-foe armed with knowledge of his secret identity.
We also see Catwoman coming clean to Batman about her part in the original deal with the Designer. We don’t yet see Bruce’s reaction, but Selina is obviously afraid that this revelation will hurt their relationship. I wonder if Batman will react as Selina fears, or if he will be more understanding than she expects him to be. After all, he is fully aware of the villain she was and knows how much she has changed.
Tynion’s story has started strong and has not hit any missteps yet. We’re barely into what appears to be an ambitious story, but Tynion has shown himself more than capable of handling an intricate storyline. I don’t expect that this story will be any different.
I am quite enjoying the current storyline. As a longtime Batman fan, it’s great to see a story incorporating the four core Batman villains that make up the United Underworld from the 1966 movie. I love when a writer brings a classic element from DC’s past and uses it in a modern context. If these first few issues are any indication, Tynion’s run on Batman will prove to be a classic Batman saga.