As I mentioned when reviewing the first batch of DC Rebirth trades I went through, I’d lost touch with a lot of these characters since the New 52 hit and mostly rewrote the old continuity I loved. That’s not exactly the case with the Batbooks. I’ve read almost all of Scott Snyder’s volumes of the previous Batman series and a few other entries here and there like Batgirl and We Are Robin. Still, I thought it was interesting diving into these new takes on familiar titles and characters.
I actually first read Batman Volume 1: I Am Gotham by Tom King and David Finch a few months back, but didn’t get around to reviewing it before much of it left my brain. This seemed like a good time to go back and re-read this book which contains Batman Rebirth #1 and Batman #1-6. As the new series kicks off, the Dark Knight finds himself with two new, Superman-esque heroes in town — Gotham and Gotham Girl — who want to help him clean up the city.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, there’s a group of people who keep blowing themselves up while warning everyone of the impending arrival of the Monster Men. Batman asks Gotham and GG to help him keep the city safe, but in the process they run into Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate who have very different plans for the wildly powerful youths.
The story of Gotham and Gotham Girl is a tragic one, but it feels more like a set-up to a much larger series. That’s a good use of the monthly comic format on King’s party and does make me curious about the next volume. In fact, this story teases the death of Batman, which feels like either a bit of an over-reach or the set-up for a much bigger story in the works. We’ll see which it is. I also really enjoyed Finch’s art in this book. That guy was born to draw Batman and he’s awesome at it. I’m bummed to see that he didn’t continue on the book, but am excited to see what Riley Rossmo has in store, I became a big fan of his work between interviewing for various Image books and reading those same products a few years back.
I’m also excited to see what happens in Detective Comics after reading the first volume, called Rise Of The Batman. Written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez and Al Barrionuevo, this trade collects Detective Comics #934-940. A team book, this series finds Batman enlisting Batwoman with the responsibility of training a team consisting of Red Robin (Tim Drake), Spoiler (Stephanie Brown), Orphan (Cassie Cain) and Clayface (Basil Karlo).
In the middle of their training, a Bat-themed military-like group makes their presence known. As it turns out, there’s ties between the paramilitary Bat-folks and the team, but I won’t ruin that here.
The joy of this book for an old school DC fan is seeing these characters interacting in ways that make sense to me. I have no idea what the New 52 Tim Drake is like aside from a few Titans-related books I read, but this one feels very familiar as he struggles with staying loyal to Batman and leaving the tights behind to develop his genius-level intellect. It’s also nice seeing a highly capable Spoiler in action (Batman did make her Robin for a minute, afterall) and I’ve always loved the look of Clayface, so seeing him play goodguy is fun. Oh and I remember thinking it was a huge mistake when they fledged out Cassie Cain’s vocabulary in her first solo series, so it’s nice to see the old living weapon in action. This has been one of the easier Rebirth books for me to slip right into. It also features the kind of Bat team dynamic I love and a building mystery I can’t wait to delve further into.
I honestly felt a little weird about reading All-Star Batman Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy because I still have one more volume of Scott Snyder’s Batman to read and I didn’t want to ruin anything. Luckily, these first five issues, drawn by John Romita Jr. are completely self-contained. A lot of my enjoyment about these Rebirth books revolves around the creators making nods to the continuity I’m familiar with, but in this case, this is just a super fun, super emotional story that fully understands what Batman’s about as he fights against everything he knows to try and save Two-Face.
See, in this case, Harvey Dent and Two-Face battle for control of the scarred criminal. The former set up a failsafe that would hopefully get rid of the latter before, but the latter offered a bounty to anyone who could stop them from reaching their destination. So, this becomes like The Gauntlet, but with appearances by Killer Moth, Firefly, Gentleman Ghost, Killer Croc, King Shark, Amygdala, Cheshire, Copperhead and KGBeast. And they all look great in Romita’s style. The whole thing feels like a down and dirty grindhouse film, which works out perfectly for the tone of the book as well.
More importantly that all those great — and often far-too-brief — appearances is the fact that Snyder gets to a very important aspect of Batman’s character: even with all the darkness he’s seen, he still believes in the basic good of humanity. This becomes tested over and over as Two-Face’s plans roll out, but the Dark Knight remains steadfast in the tenet of his life that I can relate to the most. I don’t think I ever made this connection before, which is pretty amazing considering I’ve read, roughly, a bajillion Batman stories. Nice work fellas!