Batman #86 review

It’s a new day in Gotham. In the aftermath of Alfred’s death, Bruce Wayne is rethinking his mission. He’s not going to retire from his vigilante activities, tear down Batman… he’s going to build.

And while he’s one of the wealthiest men in the world, Bruce isn’t going to pay for it all himself – he’s asking the great and the good of Gotham to put their hands in their pockets, show their faith in the future. Partner Selina Kyle is acting as his eyes and ears at a fundraiser while he’s busy on the streets.

Bruce Wayne can’t be at the event because he believes Gotham is about to be targeted by five top assassins. And he’s right.

Having had a few days’ notice, though, he’s had time to formulate a plan – one that involves a new piece of kit.

It’s called the Nightclimber and it’s pretty useful, removing Cheshire, Merlyn and new characters Mr Teeth and Gunsmith from the game board while Batman takes on the biggest threat, Deathstroke. The vehicle climbs walls, attacks and flies into the air – that’s when it looks best, as a mini-Batplane. The rest of the time, it’s too clunky-looking to my eyes, reminding me of that horrible metal bunny suit Commissioner Gordon wore awhile back as a substitute Batman.

But, I like that new writer James Tynion IV is adding to the Batman legend, it’s always exciting when I hear that Alfred is about to unveil something new. Now, though, Bruce’s father figure is gone, leaving Waynetech boss Lucius Fox to take up the slack. With luck, this will be temporary, Lucius has enough to do; Batman needs a permanent tech guy or gal, a new Harold. (And hopefully they’ll be more careful on comms than Lucius, and Alfred before him, and not use Batman’s real name in radio conversation.)

The Nightclimber does mean Tynion doesn’t have to bring the 54 or so Bat-sidekicks into the story – the title of the book is ‘Batman’, and the focus should be on him.

I also like that Bruce is looking at the big picture, even as I disapprove of his flouting proper procedures – yes, Bruce thinks he knows best in all things, but he’s an urban vigilante, not an urban planner. He could always consult with Justice League pal John Stewart, a trained architect.

I love that Catwoman remains in the book after previous writer Tom King’s departure, Selina makes the best confidante, Batman’s saner partner.

Actually, let’s forget previous portrayals of Batman in this book, as Tynion looks to be following Detective Comics writer Peter J Tomasi in giving us a hero who’s totally focussed, but not dangerously obsessed to the point of not caring for himself.

Tony Daniel, once again, draws a terrific Selina, always poised to act, fiercely intelligent. Who, though, came up with this Catwoman costume design? The open armpits are a tad random.

So far as the bigger picture goes, the storytelling is very good, it’s always obvious what’s going on for the clearly differentiated characters – Daniel and inker Danny Miki’s portrayals of the Mayor and Mayoress have me curious as to why they’re looking so down in the mouth. The new villains, meanwhile, are eye catching, even if I suspect they’re in the arc simply to be cannon fodder, future Suicide Squaddies. And I do wonder how bad Gunsmith’s gnashers are if he has to keep them covered up while standing beside Mr Teeth. As for Batman, over the years, Daniel’s powerful Caped Crusader has become a favourite, and the colours of Tomeu Morey really make him pop – just look at that splash spread.

Letterer Clayton Cowles produces pleasingly sharp work, and I really like his treatment of the story title.

This issue has a stylish epilogue, by Tynion, Guillem March and Morey, a couple of pages involving hoods in an amusement park – please God, don’t let this be teasing another Joker story!

The cover is by Daniel and Morey and it’s just stunning.

I’d rate this issue a definite hit, and I look forward to seeing where Tynion and friends take Batman.

4 thoughts on “Batman #86 review

  1. It’s weird: I like Tynan’s writing. I loved his run on Detective Comics, focused on a wide variety of Gotham heroes. And I read his newsletter — he’s so excited to focus his run on Batman, rather than the ancillary characters. And I like that he has a tone he wants to hit — a mix of action and horror, he says in his newsletter, where he also mentions wanted to add a lot of new things to the Bat-mythos, like the Nightclimber.

    And yet… I’m holding off from buying this book, and possibly catching up with it in trade, or digitally. Maybe I’ve just had enough Batman for now. Maybe I’m happy enough with the Tom King version to have the be the last word for the time being. Maybe the 3-page preview of Tynan’s run at the end of 85, with clown-hoodlums and razor wire, was a complete turn-off to me. (That’s definitely part of it.)

    This will definitely be a more traditional Batman, and a more confident Batman, than has been in his title these past few years. And there are a lot of fans who are waiting for this, and deserve to get their Batman back. But for a little while, at least, I’ll be saying goodbye to Gotham.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suggest trying an issue anyway. ‘Maybe I’m happy enough…’ isn’t the most rousing endorsement of Tom King’s run, are you sure he’s not left you Batman-weary? I was worried when I read that short preview last time, but this issue doesn’t have that tone at all – although that epilogue does. This could be the Batman you’re looking for… Tynion is even a wee bit less wordy than usual.

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  2. Thanks, Mart. Maybe it has left me weary, but I genuinely liked King’s Batman. But if I give this one a try, it’ll be sometime down the road. (And at the moment, it might be the Tomasi Detective Comics that’s more likely.) It’s honestly a relief to drop a bi-weekly superhero book, and give myself a little more leeway to explore other titles.

    Liked by 1 person

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