A new year brings on new beginnings, and in the case of DC Comics' Batman title, that new beginning comes in the form of a brand new creative team.
Writer Tom King drove the narrative of Batman's Rebirth adventures from Batman #1, debuting back in 2016, all the way to Batman #85, released in late 2019. This particular run certainly divided fans in many ways through some interesting creative decisions and unexpected plot developments.
Personally, I perceive King's run through mixed sentiments. Arcs such as "Cold Days" truly resonated with me and conveyed a nuanced depiction of Bruce Wayne's perception of himself as both a man and Batman. Other arcs such as "Knightmares" really left me wanting more. Regardless, I'm sure King's run will be debated and scrutinized for quite some time.
Now, it is time to look at what lies ahead.
The creative team taking on Batman upon its 86th installment comprises some incredible talents including writer James Tynion IV and artists Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Danny Miki, and Clayton Cowles.
Together, the team establishes a new era for The Dark Knight and his beloved city of Gotham in the midst of the "City of Bane" aftermath.
Batman #86 commences with our titular hero contemplating a moment he once shared with his late ally, Alfred Pennyworth. In this moment, Alfred notes Bruce's potential in rebuilding Gotham City via designs that would rid the place of horror and even Batman himself.
Today, Bruce Wayne decides to follow through on this idea. In the context of Batman #86, Bruce has already begun pitching a series of designs to Gotham City's administration and wealthy in an effort to amass approval and funding for the implementation of the designs, with a little help from Selina Kyle of course.
As Selina Kyle socializes with potential investors on behalf of Bruce Wayne, Batman monitors the city as he follows a lead regarding a recent influx of contract killers into Gotham.
He notes that Deathstroke is behind this sudden surge in Gotham City's assassin population. So, Batman decides to find Deathstroke before he can wreak devastating havoc on Gotham.
Unsurprisingly, Batman succeeds and engages in a brutal fight with his enemy, a fight he wins. Meanwhile, Selina, as Catwoman, comes across a strange man who vehemently rejects Bruce Wayne's city designs in favor of his own before abruptly dying.
As he dies, the man ominously mentions a "perfect murder" amongst other disturbing things, leaving Catwoman alone to process what foreboding she has just witnessed.
The Wayne of the Future
Ultimately, Batman #86 begins paving the way for major transitions as a result of significant change. Firstly, Batman is still trying to adjust to a life without Alfred, particularly noticeable when he accidentally refers to Lucius Fox as Alfred.
Additionally, the people of Gotham City are still in the process of believing in Batman again. Following his many losses against Bane, people do not exactly trust that Batman is capable of protecting them anymore.
It appears as though Batman understands this disbelief, and, in consequence of that disbelief, he works to set a greater plan in motion. Yes, Batman is still capable of combatting enemies successfully, as seen in his fight against Deathstroke. With this though, he is also capable of doing more as billionaire Bruce Wayne. Thus, his great plan to improve Gotham City as a whole requires Bruce to tap into his own resources.
Overall, Batman #86 maintains a variety of awesome components that instill excitement for this run. The ambiguous yet intimidating threat that looms throughout this issue certainly grabs one's attention.
It is also exciting to witness Bruce Wayne work to be a guardian of Gotham City through both his secret and not-so-secret personas.
Ultimately, Batman #86 does not play all of the cards it could have probably played, but it provides a captivating interplay of violence, solid characterization, and plot development to give readers a taste of what lies ahead.
The artwork of Batman #86 is nothing short of magnificent. Tony S. Daniel's pencils are simply superb. There are a multitude of panels that stood out to me. One page, featured below, showcases a bloodied Batman lounging next to an unconscious Deathstroke.
This image alone emphasizes Batman's resilient nature following his traumatic battles against Bane. Despite the numerous defeats he faced, he is still capable of standing up to killers of Deathstroke's caliber and taking them down.
The detail of this image is also just incredible. From the rain to the intricacies of the cityscape in the background, the artists behind Batman #86 do not fall short in any capacity.
Colorist Tomeu Morey does a fantastic job in implementing a particularly muted palette with hints of vibrant colors.
This can also be noted in the image below as hints of warm hues bleed through the image dominated by muted, cooler tones.
As a result of Batman #86's incredibly talented artistic team, the issue maintains impeccable artwork that I look forward to visiting in each and every subsequent issue.
What Lies Beyond
Batman #86 may not go as in-depth as one expects it too. However, it still provides a hefty taste of what The Dark Knight is about to face as he begins his quest in rebuilding Gotham City for the better.
I have much faith in the creative team behind this new run and look forward to what they bring to the table as they provide the series with a new breath of life.