Batman: The Designer’s Origin Is Revealed – But Who Is He?
In James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez’s Batman #90, the origin of the colorful Designer is revealed — but his identity still remains a mystery.
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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman #90 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
In Batman #89, the new villain known as the Designer finally made his first appearance. The Dark Knight first caught a glimpse of the villain on a security camera that had been set up by the Riddler. Readers only saw him for a moment, but the debut of his full colorful costume was enough to understand this character was going to be something else.
The Designer first came to Gotham years ago, back when Batman was just starting out as the city’s protector. It was revealed he had struck some kind of deal with Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin and Joker, but it quickly fell through and, somehow, the new villain ended up dead. Turns out that wasn’t the case and now, he’s back and looking to enact vengeance on those who betrayed him.
In Batman #90, a flashback segment reveals exactly what went down between the Designer and the other four villains. And better yet, the mysterious new character’s origin is revealed — or at least, it partially is. When the Designer first sits down with Catwoman, Riddler, Joker and Penguin, he reveals the nature of his offer, wanting to help them realize their biggest plans, the ones they would only ever dream about. Whatever it is, he could help make it happen — but it’s not an ability that just came to him, it’s one that took a long time to perfect.
In fact, in order to help his guests understand who he is and what he is capable of, the Designer reveals how he came to be. He explains that when he was a young man, he had his very own nemesis, a brilliant detective who would thwart him at every turn. For twenty years, the two played a never-ending game of cat and mouse, always trying to up one another. But despite his best efforts, the Designer would, ultimately, always fail.
This pushed him to design bigger, more complex plans to gain the upper hand. But it wasn’t until he spent a full year locked away from the world that he pushed himself to think beyond the boundaries of his enemy’s rules. Driven to a point beyond madness, the villain became something else in that room — he became the Designer.
He was eventually able to defeat his enemy, although he doesn’t reveal how. But what is perhaps most intriguing about the Designer’s story is that it shows him and his adversary fighting with swords, on top of trains and blimps. Their clothes even appear to be much older, almost from the Victorian era. This would indicate that the Designer is noticeably older than originally thought — perhaps even unnaturally so. Readers still don’t find out who is under the mask, and that, in and of itself, might be some clue. In his tale, there is almost a Sherlock/Moriarty duality that makes us wonder if the Designer may not secretly be someone of note.
But then, it’s also important to remember what the Designer does. Given that he’s an expert at crafting things, what’s stopping him from creating an origin story for himself — one that isn’t true at all? There is clearly an air of legend around him, and this legend may easily be built, and taken further, with the stories he tells to those he helps. Of course, that remains complete speculation at this point and surely, as Batman faces this new villain, readers will eventually learn who the Designer really is, and what time he comes from.