Batman #94 is published by DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV, with art by Guillem March and Rafael Albuquerque, colors by David Baron, and letters by Clayton Cowles. The issue marks the finale of the “The Dark Designs” story arc and is the precursor to the upcoming Joker War. In the previous issue, it was revealed that the Designer was dead all along and is instead being controlled by the Joker.
Now, in Batman #94, Gotham is in shambles after the devastation of the Designer’s schemes comes to an end. While finding himself, Batman must pick up the pieces and help Gotham heal before a new power emerges. And without the rest of the Bat-Family, Bruce is forced to face his greatest enemy alone.
After reeling from his sword fight with the Designer, Bruce harkens back to his past and the first time he returned to Gotham ready to complete his training. In that moment, he remembers the pain he felt learning and shaping his body to be a weapon. The feeling of loneliness he felt while completing his training is parallel by the story. As Bruce watches the Joker take his fortune, his house, and his company, it becomes evident that all that remains of Bruce is Batman.
Bruce’s anguish at failing Alfred, even after his death, and now Selena weighs heavily on him. Batman is at his best when he is struggling to balance being the Dark Knight and being Bruce Wayne. Tynion is masterfully able to pull at readers’ heartstrings and remind us all why Bruce and Selena’s relationship is so compelling, to begin with.
The beautiful art and color palette that I praised in the previous issue return in the opening pages as the deep, warm-toned oranges light the otherwise dark room and act as a stunning light source making Batman the center set piece on the page. That being said, March and Albuquerque struggle with Lucius’ features and the panels featuring Slade and Cheshire are not the easiest to look at. Slade and Cheshire’s features look like artwork more commonly found in comic books published in the 90s as opposed to 2020. The most egregious art in the book, however, features a full-page panel with Selena in nothing but underwear sporting the most uncomfortable facial expression I have seen on a character in years. Her eyes bug out of her head and despite sitting next to Penguin, a character whose design is purposefully bizarre-looking, she looks out of place and alien.
Outside of the strong opening, Batman #94 struggles with bad art and the return of Punchline, a character I cannot for the life of me find interesting. Once again, Punchline’s entire personality revolves around being the Joker’s girlfriend but with so few lines of dialogue outside of reaffirming that it is hard to call her anything of than a bad Harley Quinn rip-off with a worse costume design. In theory, a Joker story written by Tynion should be thrilling considering his background in horror, but in Batman #94, it is hard to look past subpar designs and focus on the story.
Batman #94 is available now in comic book stores and through digital retailers.
In theory, a Joker story written by Tynion should be thrilling considering his background in horror, but in Batman #94, it is hard to look past subpar designs and focus on the story.