After Tom King left Batman, James Tynion IV came aboard to write for issues 86 through 117 and I have to be honest…it’s pretty great! His run has 5 major story arcs that I would like to briefly go over.
Dark Designs - This is really more of a prelude for the story arc following this, but it is still fun and entertaining. I like the idea of how several villains early on in their careers found themselves actually considering the idea of teaming up and really upping their game. But I think everyone remembers this arc simply for the introduction of Punchline. And yes, she has a very cool design, but she doesn’t get truly interesting and fun for me until the next arc. Overall though, fun read.
Joker War - I’ve gotten the feeling that people are kind of mixed about this Batman event. Yes, it is a fun Joker focused story and he gets to do his thing. Which is more than what I could say about how Tom King used him during his run. But a lot of people have criticized this for being…well, just another Joker story. And I get that. I heard the original ending of this event was supposed to actually kill Joker off. And even prior to the ending, it didn’t seem to do anything that different. But I think I’ll have to disagree. Joker using Bruce’s wealth to fuel the city’s anarcy and allowing random citizens to break loose on their darkest desires did feel like it was affecting the city in a different way. This can be seen with the introduction of Clownhunter who really does represent how a lot of people probably feel about Batman and his refusal to permanently deal with someone like Joker. And while the Joker clearly still lived, the ending did feel unique when Batman did just leave Joker and go and save Harley instead. And he does admit that Gotham is changing and that he will have to adjust as well. So I think it has some overlooked parts.
Ghost Stories - More of an interlude story, give some breathing room between Joker War and what will be known as Fear State. Introduces Ghostmaker, who may not be the most complex character but certainly entertaining. I feel like Batman has encountered characters like this guy before so he doesn’t feel unique in that regard. But his relationship with Batman from back when they travelled the world training certainly makes him stand out more. Honestly, I would rather have him be a part of the Bat Family than Red Hood. Nothing too complex or big but that’s needed immediately following Joker War.
The Cowardly Lot - Again, this can be described more as a prelude to the upcoming Batman event But I also feel like this one can be seen more as a standalone story as opposed to Dark Designs. I found the Unsanity Collective to be a very cool addition to Gotham, almost feels like it’s from a Cyber Punk story. Miracle Molly is instantly engaging, always left me wanting more of her. And I loved Scarecrow’s physical redesign and his connections to The Magistrate.
Fear State - A whole lot of stuff happens! Arguably too much? I do agree that it feels like there might be one or two too many plots happening in this story. But from a general theme viewpoint, I do see how they are supposed to connect to one each other. Mainly how one reacts to fear or tries to move on from trauma and how to deal with it. If I had to get rid of one plotline, I gotta say that Ivy’s role is almost nothing. But part of me is allowing it because we finally get to reunite those two separate personas that split back in the Harley/Ivy 6 issue mini series following Heroes in Crisis. But as for the main story is action packed, cool visuals and just a fun story that does feel like it vaguely connects all the previous arcs.
At the end of the day, I loved Tynion’s run and am sad to see it end. This left a far bigger impact on me than Tom King’s run ever did. And I always like to welcome new characters he creates. Sadly, I don’t think I will be reading the main Batman title for a while, but who knows how long it will be until it pulls me back in again?