Thursday, January 5, 2017

Batman, Vol. 1: I Am Gotham

Ugly cover, great interior. A relaunch I can get behind....

 When I reviewed the last volume of Scott Snyder's BATMAN, I had this to say about BATMAN: REBIRTH #1: "... it didn't have anything new or fresh enough to make me want to see what REBIRTH is all about." BATMAN, VOL. 1: I AM GOTHAM starts off with that same issue, but it's the remaining six issues, all written solely by new scribe Tom King, that really made me stand up and take notice. There's a new Batman in town, and I like him.

 No, Bruce Wayne has not been replaced as Batman for the umpteenth time. Tom King, who has been winning acclaim for his writing on THE VISION and THE OMEGA MEN, does something wholly unexpected here- Make Batman a human being.

The plot here is nothing groundbreaking: A new pair of heroes takes up residence in Gotham City. Gotham and Gotham Girl are a pair of Superman/Supergirl power-level newcomers to crimefighting, and King distinguishes himself from the pack by having Batman welcome them both to Gotham. I have never seen Batman welcome ANY super-powered person to Gotham. Batman is grim-and-gritty, obsessed, borderline psychotic...Batman tells capes to get OUT of his city, not invite them to stay!

 Anyone who has ever read a comic can tell you that, no matter how good their intentions are, Gotham and Gotham Girl will eventually cross some kind of line, and find themselves going up against Batman. The fun is in watching how King gets everyone to that point, because Gotham and Gotham Girl really do have selfless, good intentions...and Batman really does welcome them and help to get them up to speed. King's Batman is human, caring, compassionate...These are qualities that I'm not used to Batman possessing. He jokes with Alfred. He offers encouragement to victims of crime. He, in a scene towards the end that nearly brought me to tears, exposes his own weaknesses and psychological scars in order to help someone who is suffering in a way that he is all too familiar with. King's Batman isn't a complete douchebag. I will be sticking around for the rest of his run, and encouraging others to check it out. Highly recommended.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.