I only picked up 3 comics this week, and only 1 Marvel. I don’t remember the last time I picked up more DC comics than Marvel. Also, the shipment was late to all the local comic shops this week – it arrived at my nearest shop an hour after they opened, because the shipping company that Diamond uses sucks. This is at least the 5th time so far this year they’ve messed something up. Anyway, because I only picked up 3 comics, I’m skipping the usual first impressions post.
The first two issues of Tom King’s Batman run introduced Gotham and Gotham Girl, two young adults with Superman-like powers who want to help make Gotham City a better place. Issue 3 delved into their history, turning them into compelling characters. Meanwhile, Gotham City is under attack by terrorists proclaiming that the monster men are coming, while Hugo Strange is working some sort of master plan behind the scenes. This issue seems to be where that master plan is starting to take off.
The last issue ended with Gotham City’s new superheroes coming face to face with Hugo Strange. Something happens off panel that drives them both crazy, leaving Gotham Girl terrified of something, while Gotham is angry – very angry. The plot is starting to feel very intense, and there’s clearly a lot of unexplained mystery behind Strange’s plans. There’s also a hilarious moment involving General Lane bragging about his security and how Batman can’t penetrate it. I’m sure you can figure out what happens, but I won’t spoil exactly how it plays out.
As dramatically strong as this issue is when it shows how Gotham and Gotham Girl’s encounter with Strange affected them, it doesn’t feel like there’s actually much development with who the Monster Men are just yet. Maybe that’s part of the way this story is supposed to pan out, but there’s almost too much character focus on the Gotham City’s new heroes and not enough on developing the plot. That’s a very minor complaint though, because I’d rather have a strong character focus with a mediocre plot than a great plot with either mediocre characters or no character moments whatsoever. There’s also the chance that everything is more connected than we know so far.
The art by David Finch is great. The opening page, followed by the two page spread of batman looking at the terrified Gotham Girl, surrounded by dead soldiers, is very effective. There’s a lot of smoke, debris on the ground, “I Am Gotham” written in blood on the walls and it’s made clear how several of the soldiers died. Facial expressions do a good job at conveying emotions, whether it’s Gotham Girl’s clear fear and the concern that Alfred shows for her, Gotham’s furious look at the end of the comic when he makes a problematic choice, or the surprised look General Lane gives after his bragging is interrupted. The action flows well and is the right level of brutal for this comic’s tone. The colouring by Jordie Bellaire is also great. The opening page is toned very red to emphasize the brutal aftermath, while the rest of the comic is well varied with the blue monitors in the Bat Cave, the brown buildings in the city with the occasional neon lights. The colours are often dim because this mostly takes place at night, but they’re still well-varied.
This issue marks a dark turning point for this story arc, while it also builds toward the upcoming Monster Men crossover. The character work with the new characters is good, there are several great Batman moments and the story feels intense. Although this isn’t as good as Scott Snider’s New 52 run yet, it’s a worthy successor so far. Batman fans will likely enjoy this issue, and this series up to this point.