Batman’s Dark Designs almost misses the mark

As James TynionIV delivers one of his strongest storylines to date, the author fails to maintain the traction he’s delivered for the first five issues of the Dark Designs arc.

Having lost Alfred in Tom King’s run, TynionIV delivered compelling replacements with Catwoman and Lucius Fox, but this finale failed to use them fully. Instead we see a touching moment with Catowman in the Hospital and under Penguin’s protection, while Batman abandon’s Lucius resulting in Fox’s capture. These turn of events aid in the telling of the next arc and flow well into it, but the slower paced conclusion was unable to match the more vibrant and upbeat initial issues.

Immediately starting his run, TynionIV gave us new bat tech, a chase through Gotham, Selina stealing jewels and teaming with Harley. All of the different dynamics and beloved tropes of older Batman series weren’t on full display by the end, instead we got a slower paced conclusion with no news of Harley; a returning character in the initial issues before she met the same fate as Catwoman.

While Harley is gone for now, TynionIV probably has a larger role in the Joker-centric, upcoming arc. This will then become a welcomed change as an all-out war in Gotham would make for another strong story arc, should TynionIV be able to maintain the momentum he began when he first took over writing duties for Batman.

Another weaker element of this issue was the decision to have a small cameo from Deathstroke and his assassin strike force.

Having betrayed Batman at the last minute, Deathstroke had been one of the major players in the first story arc, but all TynionIV did was give us the small information that the assassins were leaving Gotham and Deathstroke might know more. If TynionIV uses this as a segway into a return of Deathstroke to Gotham for an unknown reason, then I’m all for it, but the panels felt somewhat wasted, because it was clear that he was no longer important to the immediate storyline.

Compared to the prior issues, this more dramatized issue of Batman was a weaker end for the ongoing series, but TynionIV’s writing is still one of the strongest at DC, and the storyline still remains one of the strongest to date from his time at DC so far.

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