By Louis Sullivan
Tom King, best known to DC fans for his successes on The Omega Men and Grayson, certainly had big shoes to fill when following Scott Snyder’s New 52 run on Batman. Yet in his first Rebirth arc “I Am Gotham,” currently collected and available in trade paperback format, King not only stepped up to the plate, but knocked it out of the park.
Rather than pitting the Caped Crusader against a single villainous threat (though the looming machinations of Hugo Strange and Amanda Waller behind the scenes nicely set up the “Night of the Monster Men” crossover and “I Am Suicide” arc), “I Am Gotham” instead finds Batman at odds with a set of unlikely allies: newcomers Gotham and Gotham Girl. This super-powered brother/sister duo arrives in Gotham City intending to learn from Batman, and to aid him in his quest to protect the city from evil. But are they truly all they seem to be? Or is a sinister secret lurking below the surface?
King expertly weaves together a tale of mystery, action, and moments sure to become classics (“Kite Man– hell yeah!”) in the first few issues of what is sure to be an interesting run. This inaugural entry into his version of the Batman mythos provides a great successor to Snyder’s Batman run, and a strong contrast to the near-apocalyptic events that often plagued the New 52 version of the title. Rather, King focuses more on character moments (like a touching moment between Batman and Gotham Girl in issue 6) and showing off Batman’s detective skills and conflict resolution prowess. King’s Batman is off to a promising start, and the seeds sown in this arc for the future of the title– including the aforementioned foreshadowing of “Night of the Monster Men” and “I Am Suicide” as well as hints toward a major death and wedding on the horizon– have me very excited for what’s to come!
The collected edition of “I Am Gotham” also includes some special features you won’t want to miss, always a highlight of DC’s trades and hardcovers. Particularly interesting in this volume are Greg Capullo’s initial designs for the current Rebirth version of the Batsuit, as well as early sketches of Gotham and Gotham Girl by David Finch. The variant covers showcased in this volume also wow, especially Tony Daniel’s cover for Batman #1. As a big fan of The Long Halloween, and Tim Sale’s art overall, I was also thrilled to find his variant covers for all six issues here as well. More of Sale’s brilliant and unique style in Gotham City is always a welcome sight for me!
Overall, “I Am Gotham” is a great foray into Tom King’s vision of this corner of the DC Universe. It’s a strong start, and I certainly hope that the exciting leads that begin here will pay of well for readers further down the line. If you weren’t already reading Batman in single issues twice monthly– or even if you were!– the collected edition is your chance to catch up (and catch a glimpse at some exclusive extra content!)
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