Batman #1

by Doug Zawisza, Reviewer |

Tue, September 20th, 2011 at 4:19PM (PDT)


"When it comes to Gotham, you don't know it, brother, it knows you."

That comes from Harvey Bullock, and precedes a revelation that makes a mystery quite personal for Batman. The last two pages of this book, above and beyond any other piece, is a nice encapsulation of this new post-relaunch Batworld. The supporting cast is present, mysteries abound, and Batman is set on edge, which as we all know makes for the best Batman stories.

Following Scott Snyder's work with the Dick Grayson Batman over on "Detective Comics" for the past year, it only makes sense to give Snyder a chance to see what makes the "real" Batman -- Bruce Wayne -- tick. Snyder delivers some great moments in this first issue that features both Bruce and Batman, and in doing so seems to be giving us a slice of what's to come in his time on this series.

For Batman to be surprised by a clue, and to have that clue hit so very close to home, epitomizes the loneliness Batman has established around himself. This mystery, this threat, is going to force Batman to take a harsh look at those around him and the city he lives in.

What makes this issue even better is the fact that Snyder drops a phalanx of Batman's rogues in on the first several pages and also showcases some fabulous WayneTech in action. As mentioned, this is a nice sampling of the status of the Batman corner.

Capullo's art is so animated, with cartoon-like sensibilities and motion, but with a hypnotic level of detail. The combination works well with Batman. The cartooniness might chase some people away from this story, but I think it helps the story pop off the page, adding a level of optimism that might not be present with any other artist. Capullo simply fills the panels with detail. In the latter half of the book, when Batman takes action, he's joined in the air by scads of bats. Again, it seems a little cartoony, but the visual would only work -- and work well, it does -- here in comics.

Capullo's Two-Face is hideous and revolting, but in a manner that is compelling and interesting to look at. The detail isn't simply for the sake of business, as seems to be the case on so many other books in this relaunch, as much as it is to deepen the world and add intensity to it.

The colors and letters nicely compliment Capullo's work. Plascencia's colors fit right in with Capullo's lines, and the end result is a visually stunning, but dark, book. Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt deliver textbook examples of what lettering should be like for Batbooks. I've never been a fan of mixed case lettering in comic books, but for the caption boxes, it works nicely alongside the more traditional lettering used for the word balloons.

Snyder and Capullo do a great job bringing the entire Batcast in and giving them all a moment -- Alfred, Dick, Bullock, Gordon -- it's like a Len Wein-directed "How To Introduce a New Universe." There's enough here, kept at a high enough level to make it interesting and viable across media and digestible enough for even the most novice DC Universe reader.

My oldest child, who just turned 14, is a huge Batfan, based largely on what she's seen in the movies. She has seen "The Dark Knight" more than the years she's been alive. She did read the Bryan Q. Miller "Batgirl" every month, but we all know that's no longer an option. Drawn in solely by the cover image, she nabbed my copy of this and a half hour later was bounding down the stairs to talk about the issue. Score one for DC and score one for Snyder and Capullo in finding a new fan.

The one part of the book that hit me closest to home was Wayne's promise of a better Gotham. Wayne's words are akin to the promises I've been hearing in Detroit for as long as I've been here. I recently started working downtown and am watching the city find its way back. It's kicking and biting, clawing and pulling hair, but it doesn't want to be kicked anymore. I read Snyder's Gotham and I feel my Detroit.

It sure would be nice to have a hero like Batman and a personality like Bruce Wayne to help spark that interest. If we take Bullock's words to heart, though, there just may be some pretty big surprises ahead for Gotham, Wayne and Batman. At least from the end of this issue, it certainly looks like we've got some surprises coming up.

Click here for a preview of "Batman" #1!"

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