BATMAN #88 & #89

There once was a squadron of sinners, who hated to eat their school dinners. So what did they do? They didn’t have a clue! Until these sinners became stone-cold killers. Want to know more? Then please ignore the following adventure created by James Tynion IV, Guillem March, Carlo Pagulayan, and published by DC Comics in February, 2020.

TO QUOTE Milton Glaser: To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master’.

Out of curiosity, whose shoes would you rather be in out of Batman’s and Catwoman’s? Would you want to slip on Batman’s boots? Even though he has to stop a gang of mercenaries from killing his old foes! Or would you prefer to be in Catwoman’s size nines instead? Despite the fact that she’s somehow connected to The Designer and a plot which led to his return!

Well, whichever hero you‘d prefer to be, please remember, that he who laughs last, laughs longest, but only if they don’t get beaten up or kidnapped by a merc or a madman. Want to know more? Then please pick up issues 88 and 89 of Batman today. In the meantime, though, here, have a look at this…

Before we begin, please allow me to make one thing abundantly clear. I love reading this book, I sincerely do, because the artwork's great, the stories are well told, and more or less, this current creative team have crafted a very interesting adventure that is both exciting and captivating to behold. In fact, it’s so captivating, that I can’t help but review both episodes, question and answer style…

1) OK. So what’s this story all about? Well, from what I can gather so far, it’s about a mystery involving a group of thieves, a wealthy playboy, and a plan to redesign Gotham City. You see, several years ago, CatwomanThe RiddlerThe Penguin, and The Joker, were approached by a crook called The Designer in order to commit the perfect crime. A crime, I hasten to add, that may have ended Bruce Wayne’s life, once and for all. But for reasons we currently don’t know, something happened amidst the planning stage which resulted in The Designer's disappearance. Until now, that is, because he’s back, back from the beyond, and he wants to get his revenge on those who opposed him and continue from where he left off. Kill Bruce and replace his plans to redesign Gotham’s skyline with plans of his own.

2) Apart from The Designer, rank each villain in order of preference.  Now, at the top of my list, I’d like to select Deathstroke and The Penguin because of the badass way Slade cut Oswald’s throat so he could escape from the Dark Knight's clutches (which was gruesome, but very daring nonetheless).  After those two, I’m going to single out The Riddler. Or as I like to call him, that irritating sod who taunted Catwoman by alluding to her past and her love for her other half (which was funny, although slightly revealing, in and of itself). Up next, I want to choose Gunsmith and Mr. Teeth, as they were both given a three-page fight scene with Batman in issue 89 where he recounted their origins (which was nice, but relatively brief and slightly out of place). And last, but not least, there's Merlyn and Cheshire, who shared a couple of panels in either issue (which was sad, but unfortunately true), as well as Harley Quinn! Otherwise known as Ms. Expositionwho turned up, helped Catwoman out, and then revealed what her role is going to be in this storyline. So in other words, I’d say her best is yet to come. I’m sure of it.

3) Which issue did you prefer reading more? Issue 88 or issue 89?  If truth be told, I can’t really answer this question because both episodes were a real riveting read. On the one hand, issue 88 was low on action (Batman's brief fight with the mercenaries) but high on suspense (Catwoman’s captivating conversation with The Riddler). While issue 89, pushed the plot forward (blah-blah-blah) but didn't exactly divulge too much information about the meat and bones of this story (wink-wink-wink). So, to some extent, I’d have to call it a draw, or a stalemate, whichever you prefer. But between you and me, I suppose issue 88 was slightly better, in part, but only because it felt more like a horror movie than a serialized action-adventure

4) Was there anything you didn’t like about this adventure? Yes, two things in fact.  Firstly, I didn’t like the irritating way Lucius Fox kept on referring to Batman as Bruce Wayne, even when there were other people within earshot. And secondly, I’m not a big fan of the two new gadgets that were recently introduced, The Echo and The Batspawn, because even though Batman is known for using specialized equipment, he isn’t James Bond, and he doesn’t always rely on superficial paraphernalia to carry out his crusade. If anything, he’s a very versatile individual as he can think on his feet and use whatever he has at hand.

5) What questions would you like to see answered next month? Well, considering that this month's adventure informed us about The Designer’s connection to Batman‘s Rogues Gallery, as well as how Bruce, the mercenaries, and the rest of the villains, fit within the scheme of things, in the same breath, there were a number of questions I'd like to have answered. These include... 
  • What are Bruce’s plans for redesigning Gotham City? (Hopefully, they are something productive) And why won’t he release anything to the public? (Security purposes, perhaps?)
  • What did the villains do to The Designer all those years ago? (Something bad, I bet) And is this somehow connected to his delayed revenge? (As it seems that way)
  • Will The Penguin survive having his throat slit? (Most probably) And if he does, will he forgive Slade for stabbing him? (Just like he did previously when Jason Todd shot him!) Or will he turn a blind eye? (Pardon the obvious pun)
  • Why didn’t Catwoman tell Batman about her connection to The Designer? (Maybe she's embarrassed?) And why is it any worse than any of the other stuff she’s done in her past? (Good point)
  • Why did Harley pick this exact moment in time to get her revenge? (Ha!) And is it connected with the ‘Joker War’? (Fingers crossed)

Either way, this story possesses a lot of very interesting questions that I’m sure most of us want answered. Or at the very least, partly resolved, sooner rather than later. 

For this month’s musical match-up, I’d like to align this adventure with the Carly Simon classic, ‘We Have No Secrets’, because ironically enough, that’s what the Cat would like to say to the Bat. Allegedly. 

I’m now going to compare these two episodes to the British 'homestyle consultant', Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, because, well, why not? They’re both sinister-looking and they both like designing. Within reason, of course.

Near the end of issue 89, Catwoman turns to Batman and says to him… what? What do you think she says? Something like…

  • What deodorant do you use?
  • I’m happy.
  • Harley and I were thinking about having a three-way.
  • I’m tired.
  • Did you just fart?
  • I’m sorry.
  • I think The Designer was once my 'homestyle consultant'.
  • I’m Jewish.

Nuff said.

BATMAN #88 & #89 BATMAN #88 & #89 Reviewed by David Andrews on February 26, 2020 Rating: 5

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