Thoughts on Batman #1 – “I Am Gotham Part 1”

Batman #1

A falling airplane heads towards Gotham, and Batman may need to make the ultimate sacrifice in Batman #1.

This review is a repost from my old website.

Batman #1

Batman #1 Cover“I Am Gotham Part 1”
Writer: Tom King
Penciler: David Finch
Inker: Matt Banning
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire

Cover Price: $2.99

Release Date: June 15, 2016

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Collected in: Batman v1: I Am Gotham (Softcover) and Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 (Hardcover)

“I AM GOTHAM” chapter one

No one has ever stopped the Caped Crusader. Not The Joker. Not Two-Face. Not even the entire Justice League. But how does Batman confront a new hero who wants to save the city from the Dark Knight?

CAN’T MISS: Superstar artist David Finch returns to Batman alongside writer Tom King for this five-part storyline.


Writer Tom King has been making a name for himself over at Marvel with his spectacular run on Vision (seriously, if you have not read it yet please do so), and it looks like DC has enough confidence in him to stick him on one of the two main Bat-books in their line.  The result is a bit more mixed than I would have expected, unfortunately.  The entire issue is dedicated to a plane flying over Gotham which comes under fire from a surface-to-air missile launched from within the city.  The rest of the Justice League appears to be off doing other things, which leaves Batman to try to get the plane to either land safely, or barring that prevent it from crashing within the city.  What follows is enough over-the-top action to fill half a Michael Bay movie.

Batman uses an ejector seat from the batmobile to get aboard the plane, which he then rigs up a propulsion system for (using the jets from the ejection seat) and attaches himself to the top of the plane so he can dictate control turns to Alfred.  Uh, yeah.  This is the kind of thing you might expect from the Adam West Batman of years gone by, but this is played straight and it suffers for it.  It is just too ridiculous a concept to take seriously, and while I get that Mr. King is probably trying to set a new tone for the Batbooks after years and years of overplayed grimness, it feels like it is just too far in the other direction.

When you add on to that the pure melodrama of Batman essentially dictating his last will to Alfred, and then asking him “is this a good death?”, my willingness to suspend my disbelief falls away pretty quickly.  I had high expectations for this issue, and as a result this feels disappointing.  It is good to shake things up and not let characters get into a rut, especially the big name ones like Batman, but this feels like too much too fast.  I am not sold on this version of Batman, and it is going to take some effort to get me past that hurdle.

Gordon and Batman in Batman #1Now, having said all that, it is also important to note this is the first issue of an arc and there is quite a ways to still go with it.  We may learn some things down the line which redeem this issue and make the character changes seem more natural than they do now, which I am willing to wait for and see what happens.  Also worth noting is that despite a build-up that left me underwhelmed the books ends on a cliffhanger that is genuinely interesting and makes me want to see where they are going with this story.  Unfortunately the reveal is spoiled a bit by the cover, but we will just have to live with that.  Despite my criticisms the cliffhanger ending combined with my faith in Mr. King’s writing will rope me in for future issues, but my expectations have been lowered significantly at the same time.

(Also, super-nitpick: Alfred refers to the plane as a 747 jetliner, and it is clearly a much smaller plane than that, probably a 737)

Batman #1

$2.99
70

Batman #1 Final Score

7/10

    Pros

    • Great art
    • Scaled back take on Batman

    Cons

    • Riding an airplane like a rodeo steer
    • Batman's oddly melancholy