I’m not going to beat around the bush… Batman #90 isn’t a great issue. The book is terribly overwritten, and takes twenty pages to accomplish what should’ve only taken ten pages or less. Yes, it really is that padded.
This chapter of Batman kicks off with Selina finally revealing to Bruce what the Designer’s plans are. Typically, I would welcome this kind of plot development, but the way it unfolds is like watching paint dry. I’m not joking. The issue is so overwritten and padded that it annoyed me quite a bit. It literally takes Selina twenty pages to tell Bruce…
The Designer is coming to take your wealth and leave you with nothing.
Unfortunately, that reveal – which is on the last page by the way – was so painstakingly obvious that it makes it hard to take the Designer seriously. I mean, if I’m figuring out his plans just by hearing a part of Selina’s conversation, and Bruce is figuring it out without having to be told the full details either, then it’s all a bit elementary, isn’t it? This issue spends so much time trying to build up the Designer as this legend and myth, but everything about him falls short. The ideas he’s behind are just too simple and obvious to warrant the praise and reputation he has. It ultimately makes him seem like an amateur, and makes the rogues look even worse.
Also, if the Designer really is this brilliant guy that creates the perfect crimes, then why haven’t we heard of him? Why has Bruce never heard of him? Why are the rogues acting like a bunch of gullible, brainwashed children with him? It just doesn’t work. It’s too much of a stretch to believe. I get that it’s a new character, and you have to find a way to make it work, but this isn’t that way. Tynion should’ve taken a page out of Snyder’s book wit the Court of Owls, and, at the very least, had Batman reveal he’s heard of the Designer, but state that he’s just a myth. It would help sell the story.
But that’s not even my biggest problem with this issue. No, that falls on Tynion and his habit of telling versus showing. There’s so much exposition in this issue that, much like the Designer himself, it feels like amateur hour. You’ve got Catwoman telling Batman what happened years ago. You have the Designer telling the rogues how he became the Designer. You’ve got the rogues telling their plans to the Designer. It’s just too much. And even then, it isn’t written well.
When the Designer is telling his backstory, he literally takes two pages to repeat the same thing: He was a criminal that had a detective that would best him. So, to beat him, he needed to up his game. Every time he upped his game though, the detective would beat him again. To win, he knew he would need to go further than he’s ever gone before. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
By the end of the issue, it all felt so generic and vague that I ultimately just want this arc to end. While we get answers to what the Designer helped the rogues plan, we don’t actually get details. It’s just vague and generic storytelling that’s so basic it feels like a competent ten-year-old could’ve come up with it. I’m sorry, but I expect much more from a professional writer.
There are a few moments that are enjoyable though. I honestly loved the opening pages with Harley controlling the drones that are chasing Deadshot. I thought it added a nice, humorous, and interesting beat to the issue that unfortunately only went downhill from there. And while I know I sound negative in my review, I don’t actually think this issue is bad. I just think it’s painstakingly generic and predictably boring. At best, it’s average. And, quite frankly, if I’m going to pay $3.99 for a 20-page comic, I expect it to be better.
Jorge Jimenez steps in to cover art for this issue, and because I love his work, I welcome him to the book. That being said, I’m still not pleased with the number of artists DC is throwing on this book because, more than anything, this story needs some consistency. But alas, as I said, Jimenez is one of my favorites in the industry at the moment, and I love seeing how he approaches Gotham and Batman. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing him take the lead with art on this title.
Anyway, it’s always fun to see artists harken back to the good ole days where they can feature characters in classic costumes. Seeing Catwoman in purple again really popped, and the page revealing all of the rogues together is probably my favorite part of the entire issue. Unfortunately, despite how much I love Jimenez’s art, there isn’t much for him to do here. Nearly the entire issue is just people standing around and talking, and I have the suspect that Jimenez was as desperate for something to happen as I was.
- You’re enjoying Tynion’s run.
- You don’t mind generic character depictions.
- You’ve never actually read a good mystery.
- You don’t mind when writers pad their stories.
- Harley’s going after Deathstroke with drones.
I had high hopes for Tynion’s Batman, but it’s turning out to be a bust for me. And it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that the book is average in every sense of the word. The stakes feel forced. The emotions feel forced. Tynion is trying way too hard to build this up as something bigger than it actually is, and the Designer was, unfortunately, over-hyped and under-delivered.