Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jorge Jiméniz
Batman #90 is where James Tynion IV’s run starts to come together. The last four issues have been setting up a grand story, but it all seemed sort of up in the air. Now we have a clear direction for this arc and can get a since of the scope of what’s to come.
Selina Kyle lays out all of the information that she has been teasing us with for a couple of issues. It follows her first encounter with The Designer as she recounts it to Bruce. The Designer is the new master villain who has been pulling the strings the last several issues. By the end of the book, you are fully caught up and realize how much is at stake. It ends with a clever twist that drastically changes the risks in a clever way.
This issue was a blast to read but doesn’t completely hold up to further analysis. The Designer is retconned to be the biggest baddie Batman has ever face. There is even discussion about the myth of him and how he dwarfs any other villains before and after. The idea is great but what we’re told doesn’t match what we’re shown. When you write The Riddler, for example, you have to be clever. There’s no way around it. When you write Batman, you have to plan five steps ahead. Now we have a character that is above the mind of the Riddler and seemingly above the ingenuity of Batman. While we were only given this one issue of seeing him directly, he doesn’t come across as clever or powerful as suggested. Without getting into spoilers, he doesn’t handle difficult situations any better than a GCPD officer would. That said, he is given an interesting backstory and motive that I can’t wait to see explored more.
Jorge Jimenez did the art for this issue and it might be the best looking Tynion Batman book yet. If you’re familiar with Jimenez’s past work, then I don’t need to say anything more but if you’re not then you’re in for a treat. It’s a scratchier version of the usual clean-cut DC style that is best exemplified with issue 86 of this run. His style does come along with a couple of anatomy issues, however, like when Batman’s leg grew a couple of feet in a flashback. The character design for The Designer also is odd. His head looks like a tennis ball glued to a backpack but it’s hard to blame Jimenez for that one.
Tynion’s run is starting to come together in this issue. It is fun to read and make you appreciate the previous issues more. Despite being five issues in, we can now see that we’ve just scratched the surface of what it will be about. If you’ve been wanting to jump into Batman, issue #90 is a good place to do it. If you enjoy it then you can go back and read issues 86 through 89, which might actually be the better order to read it in.
This issue gives us what we've been waiting for from Tynion's Batman run. It's a solid read with nice art; not groundbreaking but still exciting.