A crazy steam-punk fellow calling himself “The Architect” has been running around blowing up buildings related to the founding families of Gotham, leaving Dick Grayson to rally up his allies and solve the mystery of the Gates of Gotham before the entire city is in ruins!

Gates of Gotham #4
Story: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Writers: Kyle Higgins and Ryan Parrott
Art: Dustin Nguyen and Derec Donovan
Layouts: Graham Nolan
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Trevor McCarthy
Variant Cover: Dustin Nguyen
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Associate Editor: Janelle Asselin
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics

Previously in Gates of Gotham Tim and Damian have engaged The Architect in combat, while Dick is working to figure out where he’ll strike next. In the flashbacks we’ve been getting the story of brothers Nicholas and Bradley, architects who planned out bridges and structures in Gotham city. Bradley was just murdered, and Nicholas suspects it was a power play by the Kane family to have one of the major bridges–one of the gates to Gotham City–to be built on their land.

SNYDER? I BARELY KNOW HER

I have been reading Gates of Gotham with particular interest, as both Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins are going to be integral parts of the DC Relaunch, with Snyder on Swamp Thing and Batman, and Higgins on Deathstroke and Nightwing. I have a lot of faith in Snyder’s take on Batman from his recent run on Detective Comics, but Higgins I had only seen in the Nightrunner story from the 2010 Batman/’Tec annuals crossover. I liked that story fairly well, but didn’t know how representative that was of Higgins’ work. As it stands, I have high hopes for the Nightwing comic with Higgins writing it, and am hesitantly optimistic for his take on Deathstroke.

Gates of Gotham does a lot of things well, but it especially does one thing that is important to me: Brings together a lot of members of the bat-family, and has them playing off of one another. I love any interaction between Damian and another bat, but having Damian, Dick, Tim, and Cassandra Cain all in one mini-series (and written well) is practically a dream come true. There are times when I’m a bit perturbed at how Tim is written, considering how formidable a character he has become in his ongoing, but overall he captures the diverse personalities and strengths of his cast quite well.

The story itself is well crafted; Scott Snyder worked with Higgins on the overall plot, and it’s an example of the sort of Victorian Mystery that Snyder enjoys telling; the solicits for his Batman relaunch promise more of the same on that front. This issue is somewhat typical of penultimate issues in mini-series in that it spends a lot of time building up to what will happen in issue five, rather than containing as much action itself. That was alright with me, as I found the dialogue quite engaging and fun to read.

INSERT PUN RELATING DUSTING NGUYEN TO “DUST IN THE WIND” HERE

I also rather enjoyed the art. The previous artist on the mini was Trevor McCarthy, whose art on Gates of Gotham reminded me of Todd Nauck’s Young Justice. I didn’t always care for Nauck’s art, as sometimes it seemed too juvenile (fitting for the title he was on, just not something I was all that into). In a similar vein, while I could appreciate McCarthy’s art, there were certain sticking points (how McCarthy drew Tim without the cowl, for one) that grated at me. Nguyen and Donovan do a great job of preserving some aspects of McCarthy’s style while also bringing their own strengths to the task. I particularly enjoyed the art on Cassandra Cain; I absolutely love the crazy shredded cape that blends in with her hair–it serves as a distinctive costume design that captures the shadowy nature of the bat in a unique way. Again I feel that Tim is drawn as a bit too young, but that can certainly be attributed to bias developed from my love of the Red Robin ongoing.

THE VERDICT

This is a fun issue, with snappy dialogue, solid art, and an intriguing plot. It does a good job of setting up for the conclusion to the series that will come out later this month, and doesn’t spend too much time lollygagging like some penultimate issues do. If you’ve been reading the series already, you’ll absolutely want to get this issue, whereas if you haven’t, you could probably start with this issue and understand the gist of what’s occurring pretty quickly, but would be better off buying the previous three issues as well–they’re absolutely worth a read. I give this issue four stars–it’s one of those nice, light-hearted bat-titles that are needed every now and then.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Jimmy

Jimmy

Once upon a time, there was a boy. This boy grew up reading classic literature--Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe. At age six, his favorite novel was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He devoted his time and efforts into being an incredible nerd, mastering classical literature and scientific history for his school's trivia team. Then he got to college, and started reading comic books. It's been all downhill from there.
Jimmy's favorite writers include Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid and Bryan Q. Miller. His favorite artists are Kevin Maguire, Amanda Conner and Alex Ross, and his least favorite grammatical convention is the Oxford Comma. His most frequent typographical gaffe is Randomly Capitalizing Words.

You can follow his lunacy on Twitter at @JimmyTheDunn

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3 Comments

  1. Brainy Pirate
    August 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm — Reply

    I’m not much of a Batman fan, but your description of this series makes me think I might like a Bat-family book (The Bat League?), especially if Bruce is either sidelined or kept as just one of the ensemble.

    • Jimmy
      August 11, 2011 at 7:10 am — Reply

      I really believe that would be a strong title, though with the restructuring of the Bat-family post relaunch, I’m not entirely certain how well it would work. I’m still hopeful for it though–I’d love to see it be written by Bryan Q. Miller!

    • TheNewNum.2
      August 11, 2011 at 7:16 am — Reply

      It seems like Gates is set before Bruce comes back… Dick makes a few references to how Bruce won’t come to his rescue and he has to figure this out on his own.

      Jimmy also makes a good point, this is an easy series to jump into midstream if you need to. The whole miniseries is very well written, so ideally you should go back and read from issue one. But (at least in my area) its been selling very well, so you might not be able to find the first three issues. If that’s the case, you can jump right in and get up to speed really quickly.

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