Batman (2016-) Vol. 1: I Am Gotham — a comic book review

BatmanIAMGotham

I am not fully invested in DC’s Rebirth. I’m still playing catchup with the various Crisis stories, Flashpoint, and the New 52. However, I did read this first volume in the new spate of Batman stories.

I have my reasons.

Reason #1: This book was available to check out, without paying anything extra, on the Prime Reading tab of Amazon Prime. Yes, I had to read the book on my Kindle Fire, and I much prefer to turn actual paper pages, like most old farts. But, it was free. Well . . . free with an Amazon Prime membership, which I already had. It would have been a sin not to read it.

Reason #2: I sometimes listen to Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic on the podcasts Mike & Ming and I Sell Comics. These now-former members of the cast of AMC’s Comic Book Men are fun to listen to, and Mike, especially, is very knowledgeable (and opinionated) about a wide variety of comic books, past and present. It was through their discussions that I first heard about the writer of this new series, Tom King. Mike and Ming both gushed over his work at Marvel on The Vision (which I still haven’t read, and, honestly, probably won’t), and shared snippets of King’s personal backstory as an ex-CIA officer and former assistant to Chris Claremont of X-Men fame. Mike and Ming intrigued me enough that I made a mental note to read some of King’s work when the opportunity presented itself. Thanks to Amazon, the opportunity was presented.

Reason #3: I like Batman, although that probably goes without saying —

I can’t personally vouch for anything else that Tom King has written. I will say this: Batman (2016-) Vol. 1: I Am Gotham is a wonderful jumping-off place for me as an introduction to King’s writing. This is a well-written, thoughtful, interesting and original Batman story. Just when you thought there was nothing new under the sun.

Two brand-spanking-new superheroes are introduced early on in this story arc. They are the improbably-named Gotham and Gotham Girl. My first thought was “Are you kidding me?” But, King’s deft writing soon had me accepting the existence of these new young heroes, while enjoying the fact that the Batman who becomes their mentor seems familiar to me. I haven’t even started the New 52 Scott Snyder run on the character, so I can’t make any comparisons between his and King’s authorial takes. However, this Batman doesn’t seem radically different to the Batman I first got into back when Jim Aparo was my favorite Batman artist.

Of course, there’s a twist, that I’m not going to spoil for you here. But, there wouldn’t be much of a story without one.

As far as the tangential stories in this volume go, featuring the likes of Psycho Pirate, Calendar Man, and Kite-Man, all I will add is that they are marginally interesting, at best. The meat of this hero sandwich was always Gotham and Gotham Girl.

One character I am wholly unfamiliar with is another of Bruce’s young proteges named Duke Thomas. Apparently he was another of Batman’s rotating cast of Robins. I think I’ll learn more about him when I get into the Snyder run.

This volume collects issues #1 through #6 of the current iteration of Batman, with terrific art by David Finch, whose other work I am also unfamiliar with. I will say one thing: the man can draw. He has a realistic, dynamic and cinematic style. I enjoy the new, subtly different design of the Batman suit as well. The yellow outline on the chest bat symbol makes it really stand out. Finch’s use of perspective and interesting angles serves the storytelling well. I particularly enjoyed the panoramic view of the Batcave itself, which manages to look realistic and fantastical at the same time.

I’ve gushed enough about this book. No spoilers here. I liked it, and it whets my appetite for further volumes of King’s run on the character.

But, I’m going to delay gratification for a while. I still have a backlog of New 52 stuff to get through.

Firewater’s Live-and-Die By the Cowl-and-Cape Report Card: a very solid A.

A

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