Review – Batman #86 (DC)

Publisher: DC
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Tony S Daniel
Inks: Danny Miki
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 8th January 2020

While it may have taken a little time to initially find its footing, and it perhaps didn’t always win the universal approval of its readers, there’s no disputing either the quality or the impact of Tom King’s three-and-a-half-year Batman run. However, with impressive stints on Detective Comics and Justice League Dark (to name but a few) already under his belt, James Tynion IV instantly felt like a natural choice to take King’s ball and run with it, and based on this first issue, the future looks bright (or should that be dark?) for DC’s tentpole series.

Criminals are seemingly flocking to Gotham, and Batman isn’t sure why. Something is clearly afoot though, and with Deathstroke heading up a new group of assassins, it’s likely to spell bad news for the inhabitants of Gotham. But with Selina running intel and Lucius Fox handling the tech remotely, the Caped Crusader has everything in hand as he moves in to neutralize the threat.

Tynion shows a pleasingly light touch with the introspection, although this is a noticeably more abrupt and business-like Batman that we may have seen in months and years past. Bruce’s affinity for gadgets and exhaustive preparation shines through here, but the execution of his duties seems a little matter-of-fact and stilted with the death of Alfred clearly still weighing heavily on him.

As expected, Daniel does a typically stellar job on the visual side of the book, with chunky, expressive characters and a real cinematic flair to his layouts and framing. As I mentioned, Deathstroke is back, with is always a good thing when Daniel is drawing him, although a little too much of his appearance happens off-screen for my personal taste.

Danny Miki’s inks and Tomeu Morey’s colours help give both the characters and background a real heft to them, and the brief flurries of action are executed well. The artistic trio also do a great job of making Gotham a character in its own right, with looming architecture and glittering ballrooms that echo the tone and content of the story itself.

Pleasingly, there are no “epic” Multiverse-spanning threats here, just a determined man with a sharp mind and some impressive resources taking down a band of criminals. I’d stop short of calling it an actual ‘detective’ story, but there’s certainly a lot to like here as Tynion sets out his stall rather well here, establishing the tone of his run and throwing in some interesting plot points to be picked up and expanded upon later.

A promising start then, and with Tynion gently easing himself into the mantle of the Dark Knight scribe, Daniel’s artwork is already pretty much worth the cover price on its own.

Rating: 4/5.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-(aka Ceej)
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