BATMAN #86/ Story by JAMES TYNION IV/ Pencils by TONY S. DANIEL/ Inks by DANNY MIKI/ Colors by TOMEU MOREY/ Letters by CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by DC COMICS
For many years Bruce Wayne fought to defend his hometown of Gotham City from the various criminal elements that threatened it as the Batman. Now, having survived a war with the monstrous Bane, his thoughts have turned to how he might not only preserve Gotham but improve it. To that end, inspired by a suggestion often made by his foster-father and butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce has turned his mind to construction rather than protection.
Now Bruce Wayne has plans for Gotham City. Plans that involve drastic changes to infrastructure as well as the city’s skyline. New buildings to house the city’s homeless, yes, but also energy-efficient skyscrapers for the captains of industry. And that impulse in turn has fueled new ideas for how he might carry out his night job more effectively, inspiring new weapons and vehicles for Batman’s vigil.
There are always those who are opposed to change, however, and they have made arrangements for five infamous assassins to pool their resources and put an end to Bruce Wayne’s plans. Luckily, Batman has his own plans for how to deal with the assassins, though the true mastermind behind them remains a mystery the world’s greatest detective has yet to solve…
Batman #86 signals a new beginning for the Dark Knight Detective and a new direction for the series itself. Paradoxically this new direction comes from a creative team made up of artists who all have extensive experience with Batman over a variety of titles.
Writer James Tynion IV wrote Detective Comics at the beginning of the Rebirth era, after writing the back-up features for the New 52 Batman and being one of the lead writers for Batman Eternal. Tony S. Daniel is rightly acclaimed for his work writing and drawing various Batman titles. Inker Danny Miki was the inker on Batman for much of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s famed run. Tomeu Morey has colored a number of Batbooks, including Batman, Catwoman, Detective Comics and Gotham City Sirens. And Clayton Cowles, in addition to being one of the best letterers in the business, also lettered most of the issues of the current Batman title.
Each of these creators live up to their impressive reputations on every page of this issue. Daniel’s eye for detail is evident, yet every wrinkle and raindrop he designs is necessary and does nothing to clutter the flow of the action. Miki’s inks are perfectly applied, with just the right amount of shading and outlining used in each scene. Morey’s colors are well-chosen, projecting both the somber mood of Gotham City’s rooftops at night and the bright glitzy optimism of a Wayne Charity fundraiser gala. Cowles’ word balloons are well-designed and do not obscure the fantastic artwork.
I will say little about James Tynion IV’s script, having said enough about the basic plot in the summary at the start of this review. Suffice it to say fans of Deathstroke and Catwoman will want to check this issue out to see Selina and Slade in action. The story itself showcases the many sides of Batman; the detective, the martial artist and the strategist, even as we are introduced to a new side; the architect. Yet for all the classic beats this story hits, it also sets up new challenges for Batman to face along with the return of some old enemies.
Bottom Line: If Tom King’s run on Batman left you cold, for whatever reason, now is the time to come home to Gotham City. Or if you’re a tourist looking for a good place to start with Batman’s adventures, welcome – this is your stop. The new creative team offers a fresh start and a bold new direction while delivering everything we love about Batman in a single story. Highly recommended.