New to DCU Book Club Week 1: Batman: Their Dark Designs (Tynion's Batman)

Hello everyone! Welcome to Week 1 of the New to DCU Book Club, where we will be reading and discussing comics currently coming the DC Universe Infinite. We will be discussing stories big and small. Both Batman and Adam Strange, while making sure that you have ALL the context that you need to enjoy the story. You are missing as few details as possible, and that you will be able to understand everything. We will also be following a reading order I wrote to read the stuff you will need to enjoy Future State and Infinite Frontier. You can see the reading order HERE. As the weeks progress, we will read books including

  • Batman
  • Wonder Woman
  • Death Metal (and it’s tie-ins)
  • Joker War (and it’s tie-ins)
  • Strange Adventures
  • Far Sector (a phenomenal Green Lantern Story)
  • Justice League Dark
  • Rorschach by Tom King
    and more.

There are series I’m missing. Some missing stories are great stories, while others are mediocre. Some notable titles are missing like Superman and Aquaman and this is because I’ve decided either 1) The run isn’t worth your time (like Superman) or 2) That the run is too far in to be accessible for jumping right in(Like Superman and Aquaman).

To start with, we are reading the beginning of a NEW Batman run with Batman Vol. 1 “Their Dark Designs.” The run is focused on adding new ideas to DC and doesn’t require much context at all. Obviously, there are some things that you should know about, but my goal is to make it as easy of a reading experience as possible.

New to DCU WEEK 1

What to Read?
Batman: Their Dark Materials (Batman Vol. 1)
Batman (2016) #86-94

Important Details
  1. This is probably the most issues I will ask you to ever read in a week that we will EVER do, and the shortest week in terms of days to read it. I’m sorry, but we can’t dive into the Batman Family and Joker War which begins next week without reading this first. Plus with DC Universe Infinite just starting, I’m sure your excited to jump into content that’s just been added.

  2. The story technically begins with the Epilogue in Batman #85. You can read it, but don’t read the rest of Batman #85 or you will be confused. JUST THE EPILOGUE. I repeat JUST THE EPILOGUE.

Necessary context for Batman: Their Dark Materials.

Batman: AKA Bruce Wayne. You should know most of the important stuff through non-comic media. There’s not much comics stuff you need to know past that.
Alfred: Bruce’s Wayne’s Former Butler, and the man in Batman’s ear. He was killed in the City of Bane story arc like 10 issues a go. Don’t go read it, because it’s the culmination of a 75 issue story that will take forever and leave you unsatisfied, it will just help to know that just happened. (See below for more details)

Lucius Fox: Lucius Fox is the CEO of Wayne Enterprises. He often helped build Batman Tech in secret. His son Luke Fox was a superhero named Batwing for a little bit (think if Batman and Iron Man combined together)

Catwoman: AKA Seline Kyle. Currently unofficially married to Bruce Wayne (But also not married because comics are confusing.) She is a former thief.

Joker: You know him. Not much you need to know.

Harley Quinn: You probably know her. AKA Haleen Quinzel. She was a psychiatrist who fell in love with the Joker and became Joker’s girlfriend. However, eventually, she realized this was a toxic relationship and ditched him. Now the spot for Joker’s right hand is empty…

Harvey Bullock: Bullock is the current police commissioner after Gordan was poisoned by an alternate reality Batman who had become a Joker (AKA the Batman who laughs). Gordan is still recovering (we will check in with Gordan in Joker War.
Deathstroke: AKA Slade Wilson. His brain operates 9 times faster than anyone else. He is a very human fleshed out character with a lot of history (but you don’t need to know that right now). Just know that he’s a top tier Mercenary for Hire.

Cheshire: AKA Jade Nguyen is a top tier Assasin who deals with all sorts of poisons. The show Young Justice really fleshes her out, but it’s a different version of Chesire than the comics who’s more of a stereotypical villain.

Penguin: AKA Oswald Copplepot. A wealthy kinda ugly man with a massive fortune behind him. He runs bars and businesses often with secret areas for villains and bad guys.

Malcolm Merlyn: An Assassin who sometimes works with the League of Assassins. He’s probably the least important character to the story of this list, so don’t worry too much.

Riddler: A villain who tries to prove he can stump Batman once and for all. He’s smart, but his details aren’t very important for this story other than that he loves Riddles.

The Plotline of City of Bane: City of Bane was the final arc of Tom King’s Batman Run (#1-85), so there are a couple of ways that story bleeds into this one and other Batman stories we will read so here it is:

Bane took over the city of Gotham after “breaking” Batman. He captured Alfred Pennyworth and declared that if any member of the Bat Family entered Gotham, Pennyworth would be killed. So, when Damian Wayne decided to try to stop Bane, he went into Gotham and broke Bane’s rule which resulted in Alfred being killed. In the end, Gotham was kinda destroyed and Batman needed to get things together. There are probably 2 or 3 months between that story and now. In that time Batman has been struggling with the death of Alfred.

Onto the book itself.

Read Batman (2016) #86-94. There are a lot of new characters. If I didn’t discuss the character in the context section, it’s most likely new (or obscure like Lucius’s daughter and not important).


  1. There’s a clear discussion about the evolution of Superheroes and Supervillains in Gotham. What do you make of this theme? Is Tynion right about the villains becoming bigger and bigger over time and how that has evolved these villains and similarly Batman?
  2. What do you make of the new characters? (Mr. Teeth, Gunsmith, The Designer, and Punchline) Rate each of them out of 10. Similarly, how do you feel about seeing so many new characters?
  3. People often say the Joker is used too much in DC Comics. At this point in the story, is this too much Joker?
  4. What do you make of the new status quo for Batman? Do you like where it’s going?
Finally, A note:

Thank you guys so much for reading and joining me. It’s time to bring the discussion of the New to DCU Comics. The hope is that you can feel a little like the comics came out this week for the first time and you got news coverage and discussion around them that made you feel a part of reading current comics and experiencing these new books with others for the first time. Obviously, it won’t be quite the same, but I hope it’s as close as possible.

Reading Order checklist: (We will cover almost everything here, but we will miss a couple)


Dang, @Nathan.Payson…the amount of work and level of detail you put into this is amazing. Thank you for doing it.


I’m trying. Just finishing writing next weeks now and death metal is well… but I want to make sure everyone can get an enjoyable experience regardless of their knowledge level. Some people don’t know who Nightwing is for example, so giving some detail is useful. Or a “I know who the joker is, but I couldn’t give you the comics history of him”, so I tried to give it where necessary. It also helps when you have 6 weeks w/o school to write it down.


Welcome back to this dandy club! :smiley:

I started reading more regularly the monthly titles with the start of Tynion’s run, so I’ve read all this before, but only once. Going to be fun to go through this stuff again. :slight_smile:


Yeah. I’m really thankful that DCUI is happening when it is because there’s a bunch of great monthly titles that excited me when they came out. Especially since they are decent starting points (unlike the Year of the Villain event).

1 Like

Oh, good! It’s back! This club will come in handy once I officially retire the club-based adventures of Jason Todd in a few months (upon reaching last month’s Red Hood issue 52). I can just tell everyone, “Go to Nathan’s club for the newest stuff.” :stuck_out_tongue:


That’s one way to do it! (We won’t be reading the end of Red Hood: Outlaw though, so our first Red Hood book will be the Joker War Tie-in) and then #2 will be the Future State stuff and Batman: Urban Legends.


Thank you for this club! I have been nowhere near caught up to the present in comics, so I am glad to have this incentive to read the new stuff.

  1. I agree that people would evolve over time and become more skilled at what they do as long as they continue to use those skills. I am not sure how the Designer is supposed to be able to create a shortcut for this process, however, other than helping them plan it out.
  2. I honestly didn’t care much for the new villains. Mr Teeth is a 3, Gunsmith a 4, the Designer a 5, and Punchline is a 6 since she succeeds at taking down her targets.
  3. Since this is the first Joker story I have read in a long time, I do not find him overused.
  4. The idea of Batman not being uber rich is an interesting one. How will he be able to continue his battle without those funds to help him restock and innovate?
1 Like

@scoop001 I can’t wait to continue to read current comics with you too!!

I got the impression that one of the big things that change over time is the vision. I thought the Designer had the resources to give them what they needed to do each of the different things, but I could easily be wrong.

I’d give Punchline an 8 personally. I think she’s intriguing and does a good job differentiating herself from Harley Quinn.

1 Like

Bookmarked for Saturday. Yeee Haaa!


Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

1 Like

Stopping by soon; catching up on @JasonTodd428 JSA first this afternoon. BTW have you heard from Aurora the past few months?

1 Like

Well I just finished Batman #86, and I really like it. Tyrion has been one of my favorite writers so I like where this is going so far. Tom King was always a little too stylistic which for me sometimes worked, and sometimes did not, so I like this new direction


I’ll have to pass on answering Question 1 until I read more of these delicious issues, but here’s a partial answer on #2 concerning thoughts on the villains for this run:

I was so happy to see this mix of established Big Bads along with oddball eccentric “stripped down” henchmen like Mr. Teeth and Gunsmiith. It was sad to see them all seemingly taken down mainly off camera in this issue.

I really liked the continuing tribute to the missing lost friend Alfred. We’ll be doing a “listen a long” next month of early Superman Radio Show episodes, and one or two will feature Alfred along with Robin and Batman- it was a thrill to hear Alfred portrayed so long ago like that as I reviewed the audio, and so haunting that he is gone now.

Some last thoughts on the first issue: Tony S Daniel, woo hoo! I have always enjoyed his artwork, even when his work was a tad rough around the edges prior to New 52, and I also enjoy his writing of Batman, but wow has he evolved and grown as an artist now! This cover and some other panels just pop off the page with artistic and individualist vision excellence!

Oh, concerning Bruce’s design for Gotham and his heavy-handed implementation of it city-wide: caution Will Robinson! It’s never good when one person forces their vision on the masses, no no no no…

  1. Well, everything evolves, right? Politics, business, entertainment…and if you don’t evolve with it you get left behind (Hi, Blockbuster!). It seems like the same thing would apply to superheroics. Looking within the comic stories, the villains have certainly become darker and more threatening…there’s even a call to that here when the Designer (or who we think is the Designer) refers to Batman fighting mainly mobsters back when all this started. Everything is darker nowadays, including our beloved Bats.

  2. I liked the creepy design of Mr. Teeth, not much personality there, but he was fun to look at. I didn’t even realize that Gunsmith was new…seems old school. He’s an interesting critique of the 'Merica culture. I don’t think he contributed anything to the main story, but his short story in the Secret Files issue wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the Designer…he seemed like a superpowered brainstormer, smarter than the average bear, and his design himself was kind of cool (maybe I just like faceless characters, though).

Punchline was quite enjoyable, but I wonder if that didn’t have more to do with Harley than with her. It was the banter between the two that I really thought was a lot of fun. You know if Harley is pointing out you have issues you’re probably in trouble.

  1. No, every writer should get to tackle one massive Joker tale. Sometimes the Joker just decides it’s time to play, ya know? Who am I to argue?

  2. Love it! First, this was a great read after King’s run where it was such a dark, deep psychological attack all the time…it was great reading Batman in a more traditional super-hero tale with all the gadgets and fighting and whatnot. Regarding the end, this isn’t the first time Batman has been down and Bruce has been broke (he once told me that as long as you don’t start seeing spots, hunger is good for the soul). It’s not even the first “you have to tear him down to build him better” take on the character, but Tynion’s storytelling was a lot of fun here and I’m really looking forward to where he takes Batman here - how Bruce manages to come back from being down this time around.


Issue 87

I am so not a fan of the Penguin being a mass murderer. I much prefer him being more of a financial bad guy running clubs, that kind of stuff, sort of the Red Hood version. This guy is a bit too much like the Gotham TV series version.

I do like the fact that at the end of the issue, unlike every other villain, he’s actually fighting against whoever is coming to collect.

Everyone keeps mentioning the Joker;I’m hoping that the Joker is not the Designer.


You’ll see as the arc goes on, but this heavily leads into Joker War for a reason, but the designer is an original character.


I’ll try to read a bit faster,

1 Like

Just read the first issue. Hope to do two more before bed


Feel free to take your time. I’ll see be here to answer questions and give my thoughts on your comments 2+ weeks from now.