The greatest heist in history is underway in Gotham City, courtesy of the mysterious crimemaster known as the Designer! Batman knows what he needs to do, but in order to stop the plot, he must first escape the most ingenious death trap the Riddler has ever devised!
All aboard the hype train as June 9th marks the day that Punchline fever reaches its highest peaks yet. Three separate issues launching on this day feature the new, highly anticipated Joker “partner” Punchline. Here in Tynion’s Batman, Punchline comes face to face with Harley Quinn and Catwoman as they attempt to foil The Designer’s plots.
This issue, as a whole, feels rather rudderless. It is a clearly transitional issue, moving the pieces on the board around to set up further storytelling, marking one of the greatest challenges to sustained superior performance in the modern era of decompressed storytelling. There are few– if any– arcs that don’t find themselves subject to the odd setup issue. It isn’t necessarily a fault of the creators as much as an unfortunate truth for the mainstream, arc based medium. Some fun puzzle-solving aside, the inevitible face to face confrontations between Bruce and The Designer and Harley and Punchline drive the focus of this issue.
Speaking to art, I continue to be not in favor of Guillem March’s designs here, particularly for The Riddler. This particular Riddler design is overly grotesque and serves to highlight, once again, the disparity in style between March’s male and female figures. There is a dissonance between the two that is difficult to reconcile. Speaking to design, the design of Punchline continues to baffle with its pseudo-orientalist undertones that are discomforting at best and perhaps dangerous at worst. Time will tell how this character develops and what roles charactization can play on character design.
As for characterization, we see perhaps the most Punchline dialogue to date. The pairing with Joker becomes increasingly odd as Punchline reads thus far as cold, calculating, and humorless– the clown motif perhaps superimposed but not absorbed as was the case with Harley Quinn. The insistance on the relationship being a partnership (scoffed at by Harley) seems an interesting angle, suggesting perhaps a lack of sexual/romantic component here. All eyes will remain on Punchline as we begin to wrap “Their Dark Designs” and embark on “The Joker War”.
Batman #92 (Tynion, March) is dominantly a groundwork issue setting up later development but does feature some of the most fleshed out Punchline development to date.
Batman #92: A Game of Chutes and Ladders
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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