Thursday, May 19, 2011

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 (of 5) Review

Went to the shop without really paying attention to the releases this week and found out there was nothing on my pull list.  Not wanting to waste a trip to the shop, I decided to try out Batman: Gates of Gotham as my lone pick of the week.  Hit the jump to see if it was worth the gamble.

Written by Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins
Art by Trevor McCarthy

Batman: Gates of Gotham slipped under my radar.  I hadn't really heard much of about the Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins penned miniseries before picking it up, but liked what I saw of Trevor McCarthy's art enough to give the first couple of pages a read.  Loved said pages, I instantly decided to buy it.

The story begins by exploring some back story of early Gotham in the late 1800s and draws on the rich history and characters of the Batman franchise to set up the premise of this tale.  Turns out there were three major bridges constructed early in Gotham's industrial revolution and each bridge was funded by one of the three big families of Gotham at the time - the Waynes, Cobblepots and Elliots.  The first is obviously Bruce's grandfather, Alan Wayne, and the latter two are the families of Batman villains, Penquin and Hush.  

Mystery villain I'm going to call Clockwork Knight.
The three families, led by Alan Wayne, are working with one Nicholas Anders, who is a brilliant, young architect designing and building three major bridges that will act as gateways to Gotham.   Additionally, they have plans to revolutionize Gotham and allude to making it rise higher and surpass Metropolis and Anders shows off plans they've drawn up to build a new skyline for the burgeoning Gotham City.  

I love how Gotham City is a character unto itself in the Batman mythos and how writers can step in and add new layers and facets to the city we all know and love.  Of course, the story quickly jumps back to the present day with said bridges, long having had their names changed and origins forgotten (they make reference to the earthquake that struck Gotham back in Batman: Cataclysm and how records were lost because of it), being targeted, and later destroyed, by a mystery man that smuggled a large amount of explosives into Gotham.  This leads Batman (Dick Grayson in this miniseries) on a journey of discovery as he tracks leads back to Penquin and learns of a mystery costumed villain that he acquired the explosives for.  The issue ends with the mystery villain, wearing what looks like a steampunk-like costume, paying Hush a visit in Arkham Asylum.

It's a compelling premise for the miniseries and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it as the miniseries continues.  Other parts of the issue I enjoyed included more Cassandra Cain, who recently returned in Batman, Inc #6, and most of the Bat family (Dick, Tim, Damian and Cassandra) joining together.  Even with all the Bat books on the stands, it still hasn't felt like Batman, Inc was official.  Every title basically follows one or two characters with little interaction with the rest, so nice to see some continuity in this regard.

Batman in motion.
If I had to complain about anything with the issue, it would be the fact I could barely tell it was Dick under the cowl until about half way through the issue.  He was written more like a generic Batman than the playful, more free spirited Dick Grayson Batman that Grant Morrison and others write.  Also, Dick is basically Bruce's son and I'm pretty sure he should have known about a bridge the Wayne's helped build, even if the bridge was renamed at some later time.  It was probably written as such to help clue readers in more so than Dick, but makes him come off a bit incompetent to not know something like that about his family's history.  

On the art side of things, I was really taken in with Trevor McCarthy's work.  I honestly thought it was Dustin Ngyuen, who did the variant cover for the issue.  It's very similar in style and, as I love Ngyuen's work, I was quite pleased with what was on display here.  His action sequences with Batman at the start were excellent.  Very good sense of motion and panel lay composition.  Look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

Verdict - Buy It.  Great first issue with an excellent premise and art.  In all honesty, it feels like a continuation of what Paul Dini was doing on Detective Comics and Streets of Gotham with the connections to Hush and expanding of their families' history together, just with Penguin's family and the mysterious Nicholas Anders thrown into the mix as well. 

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CombatSpoon86 said...

Gates of Gotham was a great start off on the first issue. I came to realize if Snyder does a batbook, I pick up no matter what. He just seems to know how to write a batbook. This series is gonna lead to something big in the upcoming batbooks minus Morrison's Inc.

Klep said...

I enjoyed this as well. My only two gripes were, as you noted, that I had no idea it was Dick under the cowl until about a third of the way through the issue (I assumed it was Bruce), and that Cass' anatomy looked a Her waist was much too narrow. Hopefully that will be fixed in later issues, or at least while she's in costume.

btownlegend said...

Snyder is the rising star at DC.

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