Congratulations DC, you have twins, two books out of one Rebirth.
The Story: It’s been said that every good Batman story starts with Alfred, and this selection is no different. “Batman: Rebirth” opens with Alfred discussing an “offer” with Duke Thomas (We Are Robin,) while the Caped Crusader puts a beating on the CalendarMan, and confers with Jim Gordon to put a shocking stop to the villain’s plot, and proceeds to spend the next day doing one-armed pull-ups while discussing business with Lucius Fox. On its surface, this book has nothing to do with the DC Universe Rebirth book. However, it plays off of the theme of time that Geoff Johns made an integral part his continuity reset. Through means that it is up to you to discover, CalenderMan sends Gotham through four seasons in four days, pitting Bruce and Duke against a ticking clock to save the city, while shining a light on what readers should expect to see in upcoming monthlies. One hero, one side-kick, and an extensive history of friends and foes with which to pull from.
The Scribes: While other “Rebirth” titles set up plot lines and visuals for singular books, DC smartly launches its Batman catalog by allowing Tom King and Scott Snyder to join forces and deliver an information packed kickoff. Past this point, King will continue on the main Batman title while Snyder move’s over to All-Star Batman. Now, you will end this issue with more questions than answers. Relax, thats on purpose, Batman is in great hands. These two story tellers come from two different places, but work well together to give us a shrouded beginning to a new story that combines the old with the new. Arguably, Scott Snyder’s New 52 Batman run was one of the few (there were others) highlights in what became a very lack luster and muddled line-wide continuity. Tom King, while taking his first crack at the Dark Knight, is no stranger to the Bat-verse. His acclaimed run on Grayson is available in TPB at a comic shop near you. Oh yeah, and King was a real life spy, so subterfuge is a trait that he excels at.
The Style: Mikel Janin has a window into Tom King’s mind. The ability with which he translates script into page and panel is as incredible as the images themselves. His lines are crisp with out being heavy, giving the characters an anatomically satisfying design without sacrificing the fluidity that and action heavy book like Batman needs. Janine has an interesting approach to detail. In some panels he over-stimulates your senses with a barrage of particulars. The credits/first double page spread is a great example of this. Note his use of negative space and shadow on the Calenderman’s jacket, as well as the numerous “spores” floating around. Turn two pages over, and he flips his style and goes with a very minimalist, single color background while showcasing his ability to master Bruce Wayne’s professionally groomed body hair. Personally, I would love to see the original pencils to know how much of the background detail was placed in by
expert colorist, June Chung, who’s use of lighting plays well off Janin’s fondness for using shadow to accentuate action sequences. It’s also worth noting that there are a plethora of ethnicities in this story, and Chung’s does a fantastic job at individualizing different skin tones. Also, the double page BatCave scene should put to rest any fears that the new art teams won’t be able to fill Greg Capullo’s shoes. Lastly, the new costumes are well designed, although I’m not personally a fan of Duke Thomas’s new costume is “Safety Handrail” yellow.
The Sentence: B-. Before you jump all over me, remember that I’m basing my verdict off of what I have in my hands, not what Im expecting to come. Im glad to see classic characters shown early, and by name. However, Snyder and King failed to actually introduce Duke Thomas by name, and may have left new readers who haven’t read “We Are Robin” wondering who this guy is and where did he come from. The story was a little choppy but did an amazing job at setting up the first arcs of upcoming titles in the pages allotted, and for the $2.99 price point, I guess I can overlook the add space that stole pages from the story.