James Tynion IV's Batman Run

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?


Nice post! While I was a huge fan of Tom King’s run on Batman, I was also a huge fan of James Tynion’s, and I hope that it’s remembered at least somewhat fondly, though I think it will also be remembered as someone short/truncated.

I completely agree that Dark Designs and The Cowardly Lot are basically The Joker War: Prelude and Fear State: Prelude. The flashbacks to the early days was pretty cool, and the art team, though of course sadly inconsistent, was fully of some of my favorites - Guillem March, Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan. I’m a bit annoyed that the whole story of 10 issues takes place over one night, and not all of the new villains work. I’m also a bit suspicious of the new characterization of Cheshire - the axe crazy poisoner from Simone’s Birds of Prey is the one I still think of first. I get that they’re trying to develop a longterm healthier relationship between Lian and Cheshire, though I will be quite upset if they do more with Cheshire and Lian than Roy and Lian.

I didn’t dislike Joker War, but I’m not a Joker fan, and I did feel that it mostly just ran in place in terms of any real character development. I like most of what Tynion has done, but I don’t really see a lot of actual development of a “better Batman” - I think that would have required a longer run with more actual conflicts/issue of the weeks solved by Bruce being “better”. Instead, we basically only got two storylines after Joker War, neither of which really demonstrated that Bruce is becoming better. (I should also say that I really liked The Best Man two part arc in Tom King’s run - it felt very characteristic of Joker, even though it was only a small part of the run). That being said, two of my very favorite issues of the whole run are part of the first two arcs - first #94, then #98 - both of them honor Tom King’s run while pushing forward into the new.

Ghost Stories kind of surprised me because of the twist with Ghost Maker - instead of the villain I expected, he is a frenemy, who Bruce clearly cares about. The flashbacks again were some of my favorite parts.

I would somewhat disagree that you can look at Cowardly Lot as its own story - because it doesn’t really have a problem that Batman solves at the end. It’s all a beginning to the problem that is solved in Fear State. And that’s fine - but it does mean that it doesn’t have as satisfying a structure as it could. The opening flash forwards are also a bit of a structurally frustrating element - Tynion’s always loved doing that, as you can see from Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal, but I don’t think six flash forwards really worked as successfully as it could have.

Miracle Molly, and the use of “Match” Malone to infiltrate the Unsanity Collective, were a huge surprise for me, like Ghost Maker. Miracle Molly opens a thematic question for Bruce that has been done before (in Superheavy and Zero Year, at least), but I think especially given her backstory, it’s much more emotionally resonant than those two options for me personally.

I think the biggest “problem” with Fear State is really just that Batman himself doesn’t do quite enough until the final confrontation, and the first half of the story is a bit too similar to Joker War (Batman’s mind is compromised and he needs to dive deep within himself to get ready for the final battle). But I enjoy it quite a bit, and the ending is a lot more resonant for me than the ending of Joker War. The “hope” at the end feels a lot more earned. I’m a bit irritated that they’re using an “easy fix” for Ivy, since I have been so impressed with how they’ve gone the hard route with Harley, but…we’ll have to wait and see there.

I’m willing to check out Williamson’s run - I love Batman Inc a lot - but I have to admit that the Maps Mizoguchi as Robin backups are more exciting to me. :slight_smile:

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I like the run…did not like the forced break of batcat. it actually explains a bit why Catwoman would hang with the other rogues. as it never made sense to me why the jewl thief/catburgeler would hang with the others.

however his run was a huge step back in batman being batman and happy. so ya…there are some good things and bad things.

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Yeah, well, killing Alfred off means I don’t think Batman’s gonna be happy for a while. :frowning:

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I never quite got the focus on Batman being happy, its really a non-issue.

Well batman storeis are not happy ones, those are superman stories. batman is of the darkness. there was also literally a policy that the batfamily cant be happy and that’s actually why Kate Kane and Maggy Sawyer’s wedding was canceled in the mainstream.
however as to the world needing batman: Earth-two batman goes into semi-retirement the day his daughter is born:DC Super-Stars #17

It will rip your heart out as it’s a sad tale.
Really though Selina got Mind F*)*$# into thinking that as she was having doupts put their by the joker and manipulated by Holly Robertson. As bruce is actually generally miserable at the end of a lot of his modern age stuff and the policy i mentioned above.
I did a bit of a babbling rant that ties into it a bit about it 3 hours ago: Love In Comics Superhero vs Vigilante's A Rant

PS: It’s not actually the first time Alfred got killed off…as he was for a time in the silver age, at the end of DKR,…Injustice (that was the true injustice…and Lois and baby Laura’s death). I did not like it eather. however, I don’t like the distinct lack of Selina in some of the batfamily stuff seen in infinite frontier too. She has been a member of the batfamily since 1977 (earth-two).

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Yeah, DC editorial is currently determined that Bat/Cat cannot be a thing :frowning:

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Ah yes the dark and unhappy Adam West batman


My profile picture is literally me smiling.

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correction Modern batman stories. quoating from what ever happened to the caped crusader intro in the collected edition of the two part story.