Tom King got the title all to himself this issue, and it shines through the entire time. Batman #1 is a huge improvement over Batman: Rebirth as far as clear roles of each character and story strength. King’s got his beautiful story all lined up for us. Even though it doesn’t feel quite as gothic and novel as Snyder’s first Batman issue that launched Court of Owls, it will go down as a classic in the years to come if he keeps the momentum up in the next four issues of his first story arc.
King demonstrated a deep understanding of Batman, Alfred, Gotham, and Robin without shoving it down our throats in hundreds of words the way Scott Snyder might do from time to time with his boxes upon boxes distancing themselves from the story to tell us things we’re supposed to glean from dialogue and the characters’ actions, which were wacky anyway—Jim Gordon as Batman? What? Anyway, suffice it to say that King avoided pulling a “Gotham is” introduction and stuck to the characters and let them speak for themselves. This provided some truly heartbreaking moments towards the end: “Is this a good death?” As Frank Miller would say, “A good death? There’s no such thing. Although the way events were playing out even I was starting to believe that Batman had run into a good death.
King gave us great characterization, a wonderful story starter, and a really freaking cool new Batmobile. Call me old fashioned but it’s glorious. He also set up the answer to the two month old question: who is this Gotham guy, and his tagalong Gotham girl? Hopefully we’ll find out on July 6 when Batman 2 drops.
Once again, Duke as Robin didn’t have much of a role besides helping Batman with the calculations needed to make the jump onto the plane, but I’m looking forward to seeing some of his training and getting the kid in action. With Damian Wayne out of the way in his own books for the time being (thank goodness) I think it’s high time Bruce trained a new guy.
In conclusion, I’m absolutely on board for King’s run after this issue, and looking forward to more of what I read there. I definitely recommend reading Batman #1 and jumping on the series if you haven’t already—it’s better than it’s been and you don’t have to read Batman Rebirth to start following along! It was a near perfect issue in my book.
By John McGee