The New 52 overall, was an experiment to say the least. Like I’ve said before in my past reviews, I never get too mad or upset when Marvel or DC tries something new in the comics. Recently, the Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 revealed that Cap has been a faithful, loyal Hydra agent for quite some time now. Is he doing this to get closer to Hydra? Is it all some sort of trick? Could Steve Rogers possibly be brainwashed? Or are we just simply seeing the new version of our beloved Captain America? Whatever the answer is, I could really care less. Captain America has a lush history of being the ultimate good guy. He embodies what a real American hero is to a lot of people. Marvel exploring the depths of Cap’s moral allegiances is interesting no doubt. As long as the writer can make me believe what’s happening, I’m usually on board. That being said, Scott Snyder’s run on Batman was pretty great. He introduced the Court of Owls and a very odd Joker. When Rebirth was announced I remember Geoff Johns saying this wasn’t a reboot. He repeatedly said this was DC’s attempt at getting back to their old form of storytelling. When I heard that I thought, “That’s fine, but certain characters didn’t suffer during the New 52. Some thrived in fact. Batman, Aquaman, Nightwing, and Wonder Woman are a few I can think of. I wanted Nightwing to stay in Chicago forever. I loved the dynamic between him and the city. So when Rebirth officially became a thing I was nervous because I thought the only way to go after Snyder’s run is down.
DC did individual one-shots of their main characters before the #1 issues started. I read Superman and Green Lanterns first and loved both of them. Batman’s though to me was a bit dry. Nothing was really revealed or anything. The scene where he is doing the pull-ups from the tower was weird. I thought it was cool, but it wasn’t needed. Batman is strong, we all know that. There’s no need to escalate his arrogance to that level. He didn’t have a suit on or anything. Then he slips a bit and had to catch himself. This is a small and honestly a dumb complaint, but there wasn’t much else in this issue. We are introduced to Duke. He’s being trained to be Batman’s newest ally (Honestly, I was having flashbacks to David Zavimbe as Batwing. I loved that character so much and they ripped him from underneath me and replaced him with boring Luke Fox. They better not build up Duke only to replace him.) Batman is battling Calendar Man and an interesting scene happens at the end with Batman and some kind of bomb. Compared the Superman and Green Lanterns Rebirth issues, this was definitely my least favorite.
So then comes issue #1. I actually read it first this time around. Batman is my favorite character in fiction. Out of everything I’ve ever read in my life, be it comics or actual books, no one touches Batman. The only person who comes close to me is Ender Wiggin from Ender’s Game. I’m pretty picky when it comes to my Batman products. I tell people this all the time and they think I’m a bit crazy, but no one to me, has captured Batman completely in a movie. I’ve seen all the movies and like pretty much all the movies. Bale is probably my favorite but Affleck isn’t too far behind. But they still aren’t “My Batman.” So, going into this thing I didn’t have too many expectations. I figured I would like it because well, it’s freaking Batman. So off we go!
The issue starts off with a kid looking out the window of a plane. The plane is about to descend into the great city of Gotham. We then see Batman and Jim Gordon on top of a roof talking. Already I see we’re being taken to a familiar scene in Batman comics. I was waiting for Gordon to mention something about hating the roof and there it is! A couple of sentences later, Gordon says, “You know pal, I love this whole roof thing we got. But at time like these, I wish you’d just give me your damn phone number.” I like this because King seems to know what works in a Batman comic. He understands the dynamic between Gordon and Batman, at least when it comes to roof conversation. At the same time Gordon is saying that, we see a missile headed directly for the plane that the kid is on. The timing and pacing of this event so far to me, is really good. Gordon turns around and of course, Batman is gone. The next page shows him diving down to the ground. It is probably my favorite page of the book in terms of artwork. Alfred and Duke then get on the communication channel to help Batman. Duke calls his suit the “Yellow” and I had to shake my head. That’s a pretty lame name for his suit, but maybe he’ll call it something else later. We get more of them talking about what to do. Batman tells Alfred to call the Justice League for support. Alfred tells him that they’re all either off the planet, or busy with other stuff. Batman then says “Understood. Reply. Let them know we’re fine. This is my city.” I love it. King shows here he understands Batman’s character. It’s not that impressive that he wrote that, but I find it pretty cool that King is basically giving us everything we love about Batman in one issue so far.
Batman then ejects from his car and onto the plane. He tells Gordon to get people to the gulf of Blackgate. He tells Gordon he’s going to push it into the water. Gordon is confused for a bit. Batman then says, “I’m on the plane.” Gordon then replies, “Oh, of course. You’re on the plane.” I laughed pretty hard here at this scene. I love the small hint of comedy here during such an intense event. The next page basically tells us what this story is going to be about, what the main questions are. A man is freaking out (as any normal person probably would be) on the plane. He is saying that it is Gotham that’s doing this to them. He brings up how in any other city, someone who flies or something would be able to save them. But here in Gotham, they don’t deserve a decent hero who can do that. As he questions what the city deserves, Batman appears on the wing. The kid from earlier is staring at him. This scene is nice because King puts in what we’ll be experiencing with him. Can Gotham be saved with a powerless superhero?
We then see Batman attach his thrusters from his chair onto the airplane. This propels the plane over the buildings and near the gulf. Alfred then goes on to explain to Bruce that there is literally no way he can survive the crash. Batman says he’s prepared messages for the boys (the Bat family) in case something ever happened. He tells Duke he should continue to train with Nightwing. Batman then asks Alfred if his parents would have been proud of him. He asks Alfred is this a good death? I knew Batman wasn’t going to die, but you could feel the emotion here. They zoomed in on Batman’s eye in the last panel. He wasn’t frowning. You could see a bit of worry in his eye. He probably thought he was really going to die and they showed it really well. Alfred responds saying of course they would be proud. That this is certainly a good death. Then someone swoops in and picks up the plane. Batman believes it is Superman. It actually is two new characters. The man says it’s a pleasure to meet Batman. He says that he is Gotham and that the girl with him is Gotham girl. The issue ends by him saying Gotham is their city and they are here to save it.
To me, this was King putting out a “See, I can do this,” issue. He showed people he has more than enough experience, skill, and wit to put together a solid Batman issue. Now, he has to take the mantle himself and not rely on Batman fundamentals. I’m interested in how he crafts this story because it is an interesting question. Would Gotham be better with a “powered” superhero? I don’t believe so. Gotham is so corrupt that even a powered hero would have his/her struggles. Villains would find ways to combat the powered hero. If they don’t have the will of Batman, then their powers are useless. No one has the will of Batman so maybe we see Gotham and Gotham Girl bite off more than they can chew. Whatever the result is, King has to do it carefully. If these two new heroes/villains/characters are going to be the main focus here, then they have to be interesting. Backstory, powers, motivation, everything. Nothing can be lacking. The main thing they have going for them right now is mystery. Also, their appearance. I loved their outfits, but overall loved the artwork done on the whole issue. It is dark, but still somewhat colorful. It feels like a Batman comic. I’m intrigued though at what’s to come for the Dark Knight. King has me hooked. Now let’s see if he can reel me in. I believe he will after it’s all said and done.