Review: Batman #1

“I AM GOTHAM” part 1.

The Story: The Bat-signal cuts through a starless Gotham sky as a plane starts its final decent to the runway. At the base of the light, Jim Gordon gives the Batman the rundown on a heist…a classified heist…a classified heist that the world’s greatest detective already knows about. Three “Surface to Air Missiles” were stolen, and the GCPD has recovered two of them at a Kobra safe house. BOOM. A fiery plane threatens to plow through the heart of Gotham, and Batman must rely on his wits and the intelligence of his knew protege, Duke Thomas, and the guidance of his beloved caretaker, Alfred, to rocket himself into the night sky and onto the plane in order to do the impossible and save lives, even if he must sacrifice his own. When all else fails, who is there to save Batman? Gotham is…and Gotham Girl. On another rooftop far below, a shadowy figure looms over the body of a Kobra agent. Thus begins the first arc of the newest iteration of Batman.

The Scribe: If the purpose of Rebirth was to bring legacy back to DC Comics, then Tom King should get a smiley face sticker (complete with blood droplet) from GeBatman 1off Johns. His script is washed with nostalgia, and from the very first page, King delivers a masterful reverence of the history and heart of classic Batman archetypes. He finds a way to tic all of the boxes with out being heavy handed. Batman’s inherent dichotomies have given writers great difficulty in the past, and yet King fluently navigates them and finds a sense of balance in the character tropes and plot details. Readers are quickly reminded that at his base, Bruce is a detective first, warrior second. Batman is fiercely independent, and yet inherently reliant on a team dynamic of both the Justice League as well as Alfred, Duke, and Gordon. The way in which Tom King is able to correlate the present crises with Bruce’s dark past is nothing short of excellent story telling. He is able to honor the relationship of Dick Grayson without overshadowing Duke, and the method in which King delivers an homage to Bruce’s parents while respecting his relationship to Alfred is almost tear-jerking. In fact, Im quite certain that if Zach Snyder were to read this issue, he would hang his head in shame. Also, King very subtly continues the trope of “Time” that was used to connect the DC Rebirth one-shot with the Batman Rebirth one-shot. From his work on Grayson, Sheriff of Babylon, and The Vision, King once again solidifies his position as one of  the industries premiere talents.

The Style: Even the artwork in this book is woven with nostalgia. From the Batmobile to the blimps over Gotham, David Finch’s pencils recall the designs of yesterday while maintaining his own personal edge. His lines are just thick enough on the a
natomical borders to stand out from the very dark tones through out the book without it appearing chunky. He slightly misses the mark on scale in a few panels, however, this is probably to avoid losing character details while an average sized man rides a 747. His designs of the mechanical gear are very impressive, and I’m sure after this issue he will be sick of drawing cityscapes. Its a wonderful showing, and watching as Finch grows and becomes more adept in translating King’s scripting will be rewarding, and I am interested to see his take on the Batcave. He just needs to find his stride on the backgrounds to round out the rough edges.

Just give Jordie Bellaire the Eisner Award now. Her colors are flawless and add so much to what the panels are conveying, and do a lot to pick up Finch’s slack. She has the multicolored Midas touch.

The Sentence: Solid A all the way around. This was fun to read and fun to look at, and the unit cohesion is just going to improve. The creative team has laid a solid foundation for what will hopefully be a long and entertaining run, and if they stick to the process they used to make this book, they have already succeeded.  Also, the love that is shown to Kane and Finger made me smile from ear to ear, and these new characters have more than peaked my interest.

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