Writer: James T Tynion IV
Artist: Raúl Fernández, Alvaro Martinez
Release Date: July 13th, 2016
This is the Batman comic you’ve been waiting for.
Actually, that’s not strictly true: it’s the Bat Family comic you’ve been waiting for. When Tynion came in for the final issue of the New 52’s Batman, it was clear that he was going to give us Bruce behind the mask, The Bat but still the man – tonally closest to BTAS, and that continues here. Family and forgiveness dominate as themes within Tynion’s Rebirth; a team led at Bruce’s behest by Batwoman, with Spoiler, Orphan, Red Robin and (of all people) Clayface on the crew. Big Spoiler fan, so thrilled to have her back, and I grew up collecting Knightfall so Orphan/Cassandra has a special place in my heart.
The story, which fundamentally is driven by Batwoman, has already touched on Bruce & Kate’s relationship – revealing they are cousins – and further exploring her difficult relationship with her father. The writing of Batwoman is spot-on, continuing the evolution of the revamped character we’ve seen from ‘Hydrology’ and beyond, and the chance that Clayface is being given for redemption touches beautifully on the character’s tragedy whilst still feeling in keeping with Tynion’s Bat. Clayface is also funny – genuine laugh out loud moments – which again underlines the BTAS tone, and initial reservations I had about the character working with the Bats have absolutely dissppesred. With the team working out of Tim’s techno Belfry, the stage is set for this new Bat-Family, with the interplay between Batwoman and Red Robin adding a convincing tension.
The Knightfall homages are apparent from the opening of the arc with Jean-Paul Valley’s Azrael getting taken down by a mysterious (aren’t they always?) group, The Colony. Honestly, I was really worried when yet another enigmatic cabal emerged from the shadows. It’s a tired trope at best, and whilst it can be done brilliantly and logically (such as the Court of Owls), it generally feels contrived. All credit, however, to Tynion; without spoiling anything, it is both explained and reconciled perfectly. Likewise, the potentially lackluster fight promised in the final page of the previous issue is resolved effortlessly in some of the most breathtaking writing of Batman I’ve encountered.
Although Martinez has cut his Bat-teeth (fangs?) on Eternal and Grayson, there’s more than a hint of his work on Ultimate X-Men here also with the dynamism he brings to the action. Equally, the attention to detail in capturing characters and their emotions swiftly – his Montoya is instantly recognisable – keeps pace in the more dialogue-heavy panels. But it’s the team as a whole that really works here: it’s colourist, inker and artist working in harmony with the writer to a degree at DC that I’ve not seen since the dream team of Loeb, Lee, Williams and Sinclair working on ‘Hush’. From the opening page, paneled perfectly into a pint glass, you know this is something special.
This is a seriously good comic. It’s almost easy to overlook DC’s flagships, particularly in the rush of Rebirth titles, but trust me: this is one to make your Wednesdays worth waiting for.
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The Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
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