Review – Batman #1 (DC Comics)


Click to enlarge.

Publisher: DC Comics
Story: Tom King
Art: David Finch, Matt Banning, Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: 15th June 2016

Right from the obvious symbolism of the opening panel (strap yourself in, folks!), Batman #1 sets off at an explosive pace, and doesn’t let up until its intriguing, albeit unsurprising final page reveal. The entire issue is essentially an extended action sequence, involving Batman’s attempts to prevent a missile-damaged passenger plane from crashing into central Gotham, and the story has an episodic, self-contained quality to it. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, there is a very definite nod to one of The Twilight Zone’s most famous episodes, as if to reinforce the notion.

It’s an almost immediate shift in tone from the work of Snyder and Capullo, but there is some lingering familiarity, probably due to the Snyder’s collaboration with King in these early issues. We are introduced to Gotham’s latest threat in the shape of an organisation known as ‘Kobra’, and a shadowy figure on one of the city’s rooftops. King peppers the narrative with moments of humour as it zips along, and oddly enough, most of these moments feature Jim Gordon. At times, he functions much like a comic relief as he frantically attempts to keep pace with unfolding events, and it’s certainly a departure from the unflappable, proactive character we’ve come to expect. By contrast, Duke Thomas is assured and confident, and able to work in tandem with the Dark Knight under immense pressure from the get-go. In the Rebirth issue, we were told that Batman was ‘trying something new’ with Duke, and it’ll be interesting to see how the character develops and what role he finally adopts.

One minor niggle I had was in Bruce and Alfred’s almost nonchalant acceptance of death when faced with a life-threatening scenario, which felt like a direct carryover from Snyder’s run without the emotional weight. Perhaps they were simply displaying pragmatism, but I felt that Bruce in this story might have shown a little more determination and faith in his ability to work his way out of the situation. This particular aspect of the narrative also felt unnecessarily outlandish, not least because I never truly believed King would kill the main character in the first issue.

David Finch’s cultured pencils and Matt Banning’s strong, defined inks bring quality on the art front, and the issue features some striking moments. Finch’s use of floating and overlapping panels during sequences in mid-air is a nice touch, and there is an overall sense of forward momentum to complement the pace of King’s story. The new Batmobile is a particular standout, equal parts Dick Sprang and BTAS, and I loved the symbolism of Batman flying between the twin structures of Kane Plaza and Finger Tower (Finger Tower might be a little taller, read into that whet you will!). Jordie Bellaire’s restrained colour palette rounds things off nicely, and the greyish blues, orange, and yellows are reflective not only of Batman’s classic colour scheme, but of the new players in Gotham’s great game.

King and co.’s tenure on DC’s flagship title opens with a bombastic, action-packed first issue, and its exciting, over-the top premise echoes some of the great ‘Silver Age’ stories. DC’s Rebirth continues to go from strength to strength.

Rating: 4/5

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MDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter

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