Writer James Tynion IV's run on Batman thus far has slowly unrolled a narrative deeply rooted in mystery and intrigue. Gotham City has featured an unexpected surge in its assassin population while a mysterious figure known as The Designer looms in the background as they devise a perfect crime.
Batman #88 maintains the pace of its predecessors in the development of the overarching narrative. However, it brings readers a little bit more to chew on as Tynion IV continues his meticulous work on bringing new details to light.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at Batman #88 and break it down.
The House They Built
Batman #88 picks up closely to where its predecessor left off as Batman and Catwoman continue investigating their own leads.
With this, we find Catwoman having a chat with The Riddler. In this conversation, it is implied that Catwoman is harboring a secret from her partner, Batman. Catwoman grows distressed the more Riddler pushes the topic, particularly when he asks what Batman will think when he discovers what she has helped "build". Her distress is only heightened when she finds the corpse of The Clown Prince of Crime himself, depicted above.
Meanwhile, Batman continues investigating the assassin presence in Gotham. To his chagrin, the assassins he managed to capture in a previous issue escaped their holdings in Gotham’s police department. We soon come to discover that The Penguin broke the assassins out, a revelation that results in the confrontation between he, the assassins, and Batman himself.
Before Batman can make his move though, Deathstroke slashes The Penguin's throat, allowing him and the rest of the assassins to escape.
Batman is left with no other choice but to save his long-time foe, but as Penguin comes closer to his fate, he informs Batman that years ago, he, Catwoman, The Riddler, and The Joker made a deal. This deal permitted The Designer to instill his own designs into Gotham City and pull off the perfect crime, with Bruce Wayne as the target.
Despite this summary not giving everything away, one can infer how pivotal this issue was in the development of this new run's narrative.
One of my favorite aspects of this issue's plot is the way it manages Catwoman's identity. She has certainly made adjustments in her life, ones that have put her on a less villainous track. However, one cannot help but wonder if Catwoman feels as though she has atoned for her past crimes.
Does Catwoman continue to perceive herself as a villain?
Transparently, I do not believe Catwoman distinguishes herself as either a hero or villain. I believe she acknowledges the fact that her past and the secrets she continues maintaining will not necessarily allow her to be a hero, but it is safe to say Catwoman does not necessarily want to be a hero.
Perhaps she wishes to redefine herself and do some good, without a definitive title.
With this being said, I most enjoy the pacing of this issue and the overarching run thus far. Tynion IV is taking his time, building up intrigue and the nuances that will ensure a well-developed story.
Batman is a detective at heart, and we are in the heart of this investigation with both him and Catwoman.
The artwork of Batman has always been the most consistent aspect of the series. From Mikel Janin to Lee Weeks, the images scattered across each and every installment has been nothing short of mesmerizing.
Batman #88 is no different.
Guillem March showcases some gorgeous panels, particularly throughout the Catwoman sequences.
The image of her looking down on The Joker's corpse is absolutely daunting yet disturbingly captivating. The juxtaposition of the rain in addition to the colors from Tomeu Morey evokes a grim and foreboding tone, as if something terrible is on the horizon.
I also love the various close-ups of Catwoman's eyes as she converses with Riddler. The expressions the artists capture in this sequence really exemplify Catwoman's conflicted state of being.
Finally, the sequence in which Deathstroke slashes Penguin's throat is shockingly depicted. My favorite aspect of this particular sequence is the way in which Batman is drawn. His reaction is incredibly emotive as he manages to express shock, anger, and concern in one image in response to his foe's potential demise.
Ultimately, the artwork of Batman #88 and its predecessors is something to marvel at, and I look forward to upcoming issues that will maintain the same caliber.
Batman #88 may be my favorite issue of James Tynion IV's run thus far. It unpacks the story he has begun setting up while maintaining the mystery that drives readers' intrigue.
It will be interesting to see how the conflict of this arc challenges the partnership between Batman and Catwoman.
I am also curious to see how Batman can reclaim trust in a city that is still working its way into believing in him again. "City of Bane" opened a lot of wounds, wounds that may not have even truly begun to heal.
Thus, it will be interesting to see how Tynion IV manages the repercussions of that event while trying to establish his own.