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"Their Dark Designs, Part 1": Surfing through the skyline of Gotham City

Quote1.png You have a design for Gotham City, Master Bruce. Isn't it time the world saw it? Quote2.png
Batman quoting Alfred Pennyworth

Batman (Volume 3) #86 is an issue of the series Batman (Volume 3) with a cover date of March, 2020. It was published on January 8, 2020.

Synopsis for "Their Dark Designs, Part 1"

Surfing through the skyline of Gotham City

Bruce takes his mind back to discussions with his beloved caretaker Alfred Pennyworth, who recently passed away. Many times, Bruce would draw projects about new buildings to improve Gotham, places that would make the city better, more secure, and maybe in time with no need of a dark guardian in the night. As Alfred said, Bruce had a design for Gotham and maybe it was time to show it to everyone.

Gotham City. The Cauldron

A thug was killed by poison: Cheshire, the world famous assassin, took his life because he had the audacity to ask her for a password. The victim was the doorman for a secret meeting organized by a mysterious man, who reunited four assassins to work inside Gotham City: together with Cheshire, also Merlyn, Gunsmith and Mr. Teeth have been invited. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is hosting a gala inside the new Wayne Campus: truth be told, the host, as always, is nowhere to be found. Of course, Bruce is patrolling the city as the Batman, but Selina Kyle, in a stunning evening dress, is entertaining the guests, including Gotham City's mayor. Bruce and Selina are communicating, with Mr. Wayne eager to know how much funds he's raising with the event: he wants to start the renovation of Gotham as soon as possible, and that's the money he'll need to do exactly that. Selina tells him to not get worried, as things are going well.

Wayne Enterprises Tricorner Yards Campus. Subbasement 13. The Hibernaculum

Lucius Fox should be at the party upstairs, entertaining the guests. But right now, he's downstairs, inside a secret part of the Wayne Campus where an automated factory assembles vehicles for the Batman. Bruce is talking with Lucius about a new creation, not a car but something more ambitious: the Nightclimber, a flying vehicle also able to scuttle up walls, pounce and track Batman's targets. The Dark Knight wants to test it tonight, and the reason he wants to do that is because he discovered a plot involving top tier assassins through the dark web. Investigating, Batman got the names of the killers involved, and while he planned how to defeat each and every one of them, there is one man he knows will be difficult to put away: leading the operation is Slade Wilson, better known as Deathstroke.

With a mind functioning at peak performance and nine times faster than any human being, Deathstroke is not a mercenary like the other killers involved. He won't come in Gotham just for the money, so there must be more on the plate for him. He's far more dangerous than all the other assassins involved, and if Batman wants to stop the plan he must take out Slade as fast as he can. And so the strikes: the Nightclimber is the center of his takedown plan. First, the climber breaks inside the assassins' hiding, then hooks Slade without offering him chance to escape. As Batman isolated Deathstroke for a one on one clash, the climber deployed devices called Shadowcasters, projectors of intelligent shadows that will make the other killers believe Batman is trailing them. This will make them predictable: all of them will go in places Batman predicted, where he placed traps for everyone.

As he finished explaining his plan to Slade, Deathstroke reveals why he decided to come to Gotham: rumors around his business was that the Batman broke down after Bane exposed him. That he wanted to die. The challenge was so interesting that Slade would never turn down the chance. Does Batman know that he's fighting him just to keep his mind away from the real target of the plan? Batman answers him, telling him he knows. Then he tells him to shut up and fight, eager to measure himself against the hitman.

Back to Tricorner Yards

A mysterious, and pretty nervous man is approaching a section of Wayne Campus to destroy something. Selina stops him, telling him he looked strange since he stepped inside the building. As the man turns, he starts to collapse from some kind of toxin, while someone starts speaking to Catwoman with a communicator coming inside the man's own body. He tells her that he's back, and when Selina does not recognize who he is, the man tells her she should: five killers coming into town was always step one of the plan. As Selina realizes who she is talking to, Batman calls for the GCPD to prepare five cells in the Black Block, as he defeated Deathstroke, communicating with Alfred.

Of course, Alfred is not the one answering the call: it's Lucius. Batman apologizes: it's been a long, busy night. With no offense taken at all, Lucius sends the call while Bruce moves, transported by the Nightclimber. As he flies to the skies of Gotham, Batman once again thinks about Alfred and his desire to see Bruce's designs for a future, better Gotham take life. And now Bruce himself believes that he will do it.


Inside a lunapark, two thugs associated with the Joker are killing all of their colleagues. The boss does not want any information to leak. As they head out to the van, one of the two shoots the other in the head, then calls to confirm everyone was out. The boss answers that one is still missing though, then blows the van up from distance, killing the last goon. The Joker is back.

Appearing in "Their Dark Designs, Part 1"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:




  • Nightclimber (First appearance)
  • Batmobile (Mentioned only)

See Also

Links and References