“I Am Gotham Part 3”
Writer: Tom King
Penciler: David Finch
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
The mysterious new characters “Gotham” and “Gotham Girl” are given a bit of back story this issue, and as a result I finally feel like we are starting to get somewhere with this book. The first issue was a bit rocky, and while things got better in issue two there was a heavy-handed tone to the book which made things a bit tough to fully stomach. This issue ditches most of Batman’s internal conflict about the legacy he will leave behind (which is a good plot in theory, but having it paraded around for two full issues was too much) and instead builds our new characters. This issue sets aside some of my fears that they are playing a long-con by trying to earn Batman’s trust only to betray him, which I am glad to see. Although, to be fair, that does not preclude them from being manipulated into going head-to-head with Batman, and since Hugo Strange is apparently the villain of this arc I would say the odds of that happening are pretty high.
In this issue we see the outline of the origin for our two new heroes, which follows along the same lines of Batman’s own story, except that this time Batman is there to stop the mugger from murdering the mother of our two heroes. They see him as a symbol they want to emulate and dedicate their lives to living up to his example, which is all well and good except there is a distinctly shady part of their story that we are not yet fully aware of. What we know is that they asked for a great sum of money from their parents in mysterious circumstances, which they received, and afterwards Gotham and Gotham Girl were apparently born. The implications are obvious, but I will be interested to see what will be revealed about that missing segment of time. There are a lot of possibilities there, and writer Tom King can take it in pretty much any direction he wants at this point.
Since the issue is focused on the two new characters that means we do get to learn quite a bit more about their personalities, and not just as it relates to their backstories. The two clearly are awe-struck by working with their idol, but interestingly enough they don’t seem to be letting it distract them. There is also an idealism to the two which is certainly infectious in a way even the peppiest of the secondary Bat-sidekicks have never really had (except maybe Stephanie Brown), but I suspect that is there mostly to make their (inevitable?) fall all the more tragic. We still have a lot to learn about these new characters, but at least we have a foundation now.
The artwork continues to be the strong point of the series, with penciler David Finch providing clean linework and easy-to-follow action. His fellow artists, Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire, are equally talented in their respective fields and the result is a book which follows the current DC style, while also setting its own distinct direction. It is often a visually striking book, but it does have a tendency to suffer a bit from “lack-of-backgrounds-itis”. Still, on the whole it is a solid artistic package.
So far, for me at least, Batman has been eclipsed by Detective Comics, but it is finally starting to get its feet under it and mature into a story worth recommending. At this point I do feel that it may be best for readers who have not jumped on to this title yet to wait for the first arc to close out before deciding whether to give it a shot or not. This is especially true with the third Bat-book, Allt-Star Batman, still yet to arrive. The issues have gotten progressively better, and three is definitely a high point of the series thus far, but I could see it dropping back down easily enough. It is a difficult thing for me to say regarding this book since I have been a big fan of Tom King’s work on Vision and prior titles, but it is best to hold off for the moment. Things are looking up and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next, but there’s still that barrier of the first issue to get past. I am going to stick out the remainder of this story arc, and at that time I will decide whether I am going to continue getting this book regularly, or if I will switch to a “wait for trade” format.