“I Am Gotham, Part 2”
Writer: Tom King
Penciler: David Finch
Inkers: Matt Banning, Danny Miki
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
This series, at least under the direction of writer Tom King, is apparently going to be about legacy. That was a major point in issue one (even if the specifics of the situation were more than a bit ridiculous), and in case we missed it Bruce goes on to explain it again at the beginning of this issue. It is hardly a new theme for Batman, and all the more relevant since he has been dead or presumed dead (twice) in the past decade. It is not quite clear yet what Tom King’s take on Batman’s legacy will be yet, but he an introduced an interesting wrinkle into the mix with the two new Superman-esque heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl.
The two were introduced briefly last issue in the final panels, and we get more information about them now although a lot about them is still mysterious. For the moment they are being played off as novices who are powerful, but largely untrained. In a refreshing twist (but also not uncommon) twist on the usual formula they seem to be aware of their own untrained status and are eager to learn from Batman. Even a few years ago Batman would have scoffed at training these rookies, but the newer, more cooperative Batman seems to have taken them under his wing even if he isn’t directly training them like he would with the Robins. I am glad, at the very least, to see that DC seems to be putting some weight behind this version of Batman who is not afraid to accept help instead of shouldering everything on his own. That doesn’t mean he can’t pull some of his old tricks, though, and there is an amusing sequence with Batman successfully pulling off his disappearing trick despite their “ultra vision” allowing them to see “everything”. Some things never change.
There is still the question of who these two newcomers are, though, and whether or not they are the good guys they claim to be. I expect there is a lot more to these characters than being Superman clones who patrol Gotham, but the book has decided to take it slow with these two. This does, however, mean that Batman is taking a bit of a backseat role in his own book (which is also occurring over in Detective Comics, too). The first issue was the all Batman and Alfred show, but this issue is largely about the rookies as seen through the filter of an optimistic Batman. I am really just hoping at the moment that these two don’t end up being villains playing a long con, which betrays Batman’s trust and returns him to his Mr. Grumpykins persona. We’ve had enough of that for the last decade or so.
This is a character heavy issue, and as such as there is little action to speak of. The book opens with a quick fight against Solomon Grundy, which Batman lets Gotham and Gotham Girl handle until it puts innocent bystanders at risk, and it closes with the reveal of the overarching villain of “I Am Gotham”, and possibly beyond. I won’t spoil who that is here, but it is a villain I am happy to see return and I think Tom King will have some fun writing him.
DC has done a good job so far of giving the two core Batbooks their own unique identities, which is not something they have had much luck with in the past. Detective Comics has been roping in a lot of the secondary characters to be a sort of Batman team book, and Batman ditches pretty much everybody in favor of the title character getting the spotlight. So far it is working, and amazingly enough both books are among my favorites of the relaunch so far. Before this issue I would not have included this book on the ‘favorites’ list, but it has done a good job of bringing me around to its theme. It is still taking a bit of a heavy-handed approach to laying out what you are supposed to take away from this series, but I am guessing that now that the groundwork has been laid it can take a more nuanced approach in the future. At least, I am hoping it does.
Batman #2 is available now on Comixology or at your local comic shop. Batman #3 should be available on July 20th.