As part of the continuing “New 52” releases this month, DC comics brought us another re-launch this week, in the form of Batman #1. Brought to you by the team of writer Scott Snyder, and artist Greg Capullo, we walk into Gotham City anew, opening with a few pages of the bleak, ominous, and sometimes dilapidated structures that make the frame of Gotham. Echoing in your mind, giving you the chill of a crisp winter’s day with rain, is the notorious inner-monologue of Bruce Wayne that has been prevalent in Batman comics in the last 20 years or so.
The art throughout this book grasps, and makes this reader feel like it’s a tribute to 1980’s Batman art, particularly a guy by the name of Frank Miller. Greg Capullo makes crisp pencils and sharp lines to Batman’s uniform, a prime reason I compare his art to that of Frank Miller’s.
A battle against the inmates at Arkham Asylum kick-starts this issue, and reboot, with great splash pages, and a blend of Bruce’s thoughts, laid over on top of battling his greatest villains in a “riot”. From what we can see from this first issue, writer Scott Snyder is making Batman’s technology, and gadgets a focus of this new story. A full, 2-page splash makes this evident, featuring various Bat mobiles, and the entire expanse of the Bat cave.
The striking difference in this series, that sets it apart from others, and past Batman series, is a much more optimistic Bruce Wayne. During a speech for a “better Gotham”, you feel like you’re watching a man who just took a handful of Prozac. And a scene with an almost family “support system” by his side, you’re pulled even more into reading about Bruce. Is he going to be a brighter, gentler Bruce during the day? Or is it an offset of the unbridled, manic violence that becomes him when he puts on the cape and cowl?
And we see that violence aforementioned above, at the beginning in the Arkham battle. Bruce Wayne may be a human being, with no superpowers, but he is arguably the most fascinating character, with his struggles with inner demons, anger, and walking a tight rope between justice, and becoming that which he prowls for on the rooftops of night time Gotham City.
Snyder has done a top-notch job, splitting the personalities of Bruce Wayne/Batman into almost 2 literally separate people, and Capullos’ art definitely helps hammer it home. He captures Gotham’s dreariness with a love like the guy that wears the hats, or jackets with the name of the city he lives in, leaving a good question in the minds of people that love the character, and his plights, and perils: What is Gotham, to you?
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