There is a popular theory around the film “The Madness of King George VIII”. It has been said, that when this film was released internationally, it had to have its name amended to just “The Madness of King George” as people would ask “what happened in the previous films?” Now, hopefully, comic book readers are savvy enough to realize that this Rebirth book, rather than starting at #1, has had its original, including the New 52 issues, re-established. After reading this issue, I can say that there is definitely more changes afoot than the numbering.
Gotham is under an unseen subterfuge which has targeted the vigilante population, most obviously the bat night life. Batman, recognising the threat he and his affiliates are under decides on a “stand together” front to prepare and ultimately tackle this new danger. The motivations of the DC Universe’s ultimate planner may be cloaked in his obvious statements, hiding a greater plan in place, alluded to by his new project manager Batwoman.
James Tynion IV is used to writing big scale stories, after his contributions to both Eternal series. As such, with this book, you get an example of the grandiose. What was lacking in the Rebirth Batman issue was a connection to the Rebirth event. This issue is the total opposite and even goes some way to explain certain actions from its sister book. Tynion presents the start of what appears to be an ongoing threat of which we can expect some twist and turns. By doing so, he also manages to solidify the various sidekicks and helpers that have appeared in various books. Tim Drake is back in the fold, fans of Cassandra Cain will be pleased with her inclusion. As a Steph Brown fan, I am pleased with her inclusion. Even Clayface seems engaging in this book. Whilst that is all well and good, there is a sense of family, which Tynion handles with style and quiet revelation moment that should make people go “ahh….. of course”.
Eddy Barrows art looks well in this book. At times , it seems that he has a Graham Nolan edge to some panels, yet manages to include his own style as you may have seen in his Nightwing run. Now, for all the great panels, for all the great movement across the page giving this book a gorgeous overall feel, there is still a couple of panels where torso’s seem to be out of proportion to the lower parts of the body. This may be due to poses that characters are placed, but this has been a systematic idiosyncrasy of Barrows work. I have to admit that when I spot it, it does kind of spoil the page as it mainly happens on larger to splash panels. Still, Barrows’ art on faces work well. Eber Ferreira provides the inks with a subtle touch that emphasises rather than overpower. The colors are by Adriano Lucas who gives the book a totally feel to its sister book. The Batman book featured a lot of light, Bruce exercising on the helipad for example. Here, there is darkness more than night in both environment and tone of the story which Lucas captures brilliantly.
Whilst this book is heads and shoulders above the Batman book, I do have reservations. I am a big Batman fan. I love the comics and B:TAS and have a great deal of affection for “The Batman” cartoon show. When this story line was first proposed, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the episode “Rumours”, which features an armoured man taking down Batman villains and the episode “The End of The Batman”, which features a duo looking to usurp the Dynamic Duo. Still, there is the possibly that the big bad, who’s first appearance may well be Rebirth #1, will add a new level of intrigue to this “new” book, that features old style story telling of the protectors of the Gotham night.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
STORY BY James Tynion IV
ART BY Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira
COLORS BY Adriano Lucas
COVER BY Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Rafael Albuquerque
PUBLISHER DC Comics