The Designer’s (read- The Joker's) machinations have left Batman’s life in tatters! Gotham City’s ambitious rebuilding has skittered to a halt as new powers are rising to shape its destiny—and Batman is powerless to stop them! With no Alfred or Bat-Family to lean on, the Dark Knight stands alone against the ascendance of his greatest adversary!
This issue, labeled a finale, reads more like a combination of epilogue to “Their Dark Designs” and prologue to “The Joker War” (although one could easily argue that the entire nine chapter “Their Dark Designs” arc is prologue). The events of the previous issue, which were somewhat jumbled and difficult to get a clear read on, are spelled out clearly in this issue. The Designer is dead and this entire operation was run by The Joker. Punchline shot Selina but The Cat (who also has a 12-issue maxi-series coming with The Bat, written by Tom King) will live. Lucius Fox is no Alfred. Interestingly, one large questionmark from the previous issue, regarding the status of Harley Quinn after her dust up with Punchline, remains unresolved. So in the end, the only bit of real development with this issue is Bruce swearing to be a better bat. The rest is clarification and introspection/recap.
In the end, “Their Dark Designs” had its moments but also serves perhaps to highlight the greatest weaknesses in the era of massively decompressed storytelling in comics. The story is given plenty of room to breathe but in giving it that freedom manages to expand into a yawn. Certainly not as decompressed as the preceeding run, there is a definite sense of treading water throughout this arc as is treads water, waiting for the next big thing to arrive. Coupled with inconsistent art provided by numerous artists (another symptom of a book that ships twice monthly), “Their Dark Designs” simply falls flat in the end. There are worse Batman stories out there to be consumed, for certain, but what started with such hope and promise ended up a time filler, and at $3.99 per issue, many fans simply cannot afford so many empty calories in their comics diet.
"Their Dark Designs" comes to an ending of sorts with Batman #94 (Tynion IV, March, Albuquerque), paving the way for "The Joker War".
Batman #94: These Grand Designs
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 5/105/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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