Each and every week since the beginning of DC’s New 52, we’ve been presented with a brand new book featuring Batman. First it was Detective Comics, then Batman and Robin, and now Batman #1. Does this relaunch totally redefine the title and the character, and is this the jumping on point new readers have been waiting for?

SPOILER WARNING!

Yes.

BATMAN #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comiccraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Batman: When his parents were killed, young Bruce Wayne began a life long quest to bring justice to the wrongdoers of the world, and make Gotham City – his city – safe for the Everyman. When a bat flew in through an open window, it was a sign that Bruce Wayne should dress like a bat, to scare criminals, who we all know are a superstitious, cowardly lot. He became The Batman!, and over the years fought the good fight. A fight that continues today…

YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE

It’s been quite a while since a Batman issue really got me excited about what awaited me on the next page, but now DC has two Batman titles that have me loving the books as much as I did when I first started reading comics oh so long ago. It’s one thing to see Batman fighting a horde of escaped Arkham criminals, but it is quite another to see The Joker fighting right alongside the hero to bring order back to the Asylum. It’s all a ruse, of course, as we later learn it’s Dick Grayson wearing a clever electronic mask to hide his identity as a crime fighter.

For those coming in new to Batman, the good news is, you don’t need to figure out who is who, and what is what. The computer gimmick continues to play out through the issue telling Bruce, and thus the reader, who the people are he is encountering, and why they are important. In a single panel, readers learn who Dick, Tim, and Damian are, and there is no need worry about the villains, Snyder has written the introduction in such a way that n00bs get the important facts fed to them maybe without even knowing it.

Because Snyder isn’t forcing Batman/Bruce Wayne’s history down our throats screaming “PAY ATTENTION!” all the way, the important information flows just like it would if you’ve been around friends or family for a long time – it comes out during the course of normal conversation.

There are two important story elements that come out of this issue. The first is that Bruce Wayne wants to rebuild the derelict sections of Gotham City (something long time readers have seen before). The second is someone is going to kill Bruce Wayne, and it just might be someone very close to him. The way the killing arc of this story unfolds reminds me a great deal of the movie Se7en. It’s spooky, it’s dark, it’s grim, but it doesn’t come off as the grim and dark Batman tales from the ‘80s… too much. Batman fights, Batman does the leg work required to be a good detective, Bruce Wayne impresses the ladies, and gets the wealthy to part with their funds for a good cause.

BUT IS IT A RELAUNCH?

As we’ve learned, some portions of the DC Universe have seen a complete change from what has come before, while other more popular characters (Batman and Green Lantern) haven’t been tweaked that much. It’s clear that this story takes place in the here and now, as evidenced by the various gizmos, geegaws, and Batmobiles in the Batcave. All the Robins are around, and even the presence of Professor Pyg harkens back to the most recent Grant Morrison Batman and Robin run, though I will admit it brought me great joy to see Batman fighting his old foes, and with each punch mentally calling out there names, only to dismiss Pyg with a single punch with nary a mention of who the character is. Granted, Bruce Wayne wasn’t Batman when Pyg appeared, but this dismissal almost feels like Synder is dismissing that portion of the old DC continuity (Mystery Woman, Page 1, Panel 1). The one thing that seems to have changed the most in Batman’s universe is that Jim Gordon isn’t the gray-haired, troubled commissioner we’ve known for the last twenty years, but rather a younger version of that man.

For those of us who have been reading Batman for decades, yes – we’ve seen a lot of this same stuff before. And yes, I understand your frustration in thinking this is nothing new. Sure you can be THAT guy and dismiss everything being attempted in this issue. But, if you were to look at this from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about Batman except for what they’ve seen on television and on the silver screen, this is one of those books that is perfect for the new reader. And for those of you who have become disillusioned with the all powerful, all knowing Batman, this is that booster shot the character was in need of.

ART? OH. MY. GOD.

While Snyder hooked me with a story that hit all the right notes, it is the art by Greg Capullo that seals the deal. My god can this man draw a page! It’s breathtaking and disturbing at the same time. When the issue starts, Gotham feels gothic. It looks worn and aged. When the scene switches to Arkham, Capullo makes it feel dirty and run down. When Bruce pitches his bright and shiny Gotham to the rich and famous, the surroundings feel regal and posh. And when the story turns to the dark murder, Capullo frightens me with his attention to detail in each and every panel.
And if the environments don’t sell you, then his take on the characters certainly will. I’ve complained in the past about artists who draw all characters the same way; same build, same height, same, same, same. Capullo gives each character… character. Tim, Dick and Damian are different, they look unique. Bruce Wayne doesn’t come off as a seven foot tall all-star athlete. There are characters who are taller than he is, and he isn’t portrayed as the dashing ladies man with a perfectly chiseled face and coiffed hair. His hair look tussled, and his face if flatter than those around him. I like it. I like it a lot. I am now on a mission to find and read more books with Greg Capullo’s art inside.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!

Sure, I’m a Batman fanboy. I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m also not afraid to admit when Batman tales blow monkey chunks. This is not a book that blows monkey chunks. Batman number one, has all the information a new reader will need to quickly imerse themselves into this title, has a great story hook to keep new and old readers entertained, and art that is stunning. I wasn’t sure there was going to be a best of the week for me, but Batman #1 has done it. 5 out of 5 Stars. If you are on the fence, get off now, and pick up this book.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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18 Comments

  1. Direphoenix
    September 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm — Reply

    I think I’d have to disagree a little about the art in this comic. While I love Capullo’s art style, his scaling seems a bit off, and the differences between the characters (especially in ensemble shots) seems a bit exaggerated.

    Take for example the shot with Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damian: Bruce is a a big guy, being Batman and all, ok, we get it… but Dick is an entire head shorter (not to mention half as wide at the shoulders)! And since it hasn’t been retconned out (from what I can tell) that he was posing as the Batman for a while, you’ve got to wonder how the heck he pulled that off. Tim stands up to Bruce’s pecs, which might be fine if he was an adolescent, but isn’t he at least college-age? Then there’s little Damian, who as the youngest and understandably the smallest of the bunch, is the only one that comes off as being the right height for his age… if he’s supposed to be an 8-yr. old.

    And then there’s that mayoral candidate… If Bruce is supposed to be a big guy (as Batman), but not so big that he looks out of place among a bunch of aristocrats (as Bruce), then that guy is absolutely inhuman! He’s got to be 7′ with 48″ shoulders!

    Again, I love this guys art style for just about everything, but I think he needs to work on that scaling, especially on shots that include more than one person.

    • Obsidian
      September 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm — Reply

      I agree… the difference in size between Bruce and Dick was too dramatic to make sense. I mean, yes, Bruce has always been bigger but not that much bigger.

    • websnap
      September 26, 2011 at 11:53 am — Reply

      Everyone got de-aged… Dick obviously being younger than bruce became smaller… but he always was, I mean… look at the cover of Morisson’s Batman and Robin #1. That’s a very slender Batman. I think it’s the concept that the cape and the dark hide a lot in a gotham back ally.

      The fact of the matter in that Post new 52 Grayson is younger than the one we “saw” play Batman.

  2. September 25, 2011 at 12:38 am — Reply

    And since it hasn’t been retconned out (from what I can tell) that he was posing as the Batman for a while, you’ve got to wonder how the heck he pulled that off.

    Answer: Lifts… :D

    Quite honestly I think Batman’s height has been adjusted over the years until he comes off as 7 feet tall. He may very well be 5’10”, with the mayor standing 6’5″. The same thing happened to Doc Savage over the years. When he was first introduced he was just at six feet in height when the average height at the time was 5’8″. As time went on, Doc’s height adjusted to be taller than the average to the point he was literally standing 7 feet tall.

    • September 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm — Reply

      If I’m not mistaken, Bruce Wayne/Batman has a current height of 6’2”. Which makes him slightly shorter than the Joker’s 6’4″-5″ and Superman’s All-American height of 6’3″.

  3. September 25, 2011 at 5:51 am — Reply

    i was sick on comic book day, and by the time i got to the shop, i was able to pick up all that week’s issues except this, and the one with Starfire. (not really regretting missing that one it seems, but this one yeah.) Interesting to note too, i got the last issue of Wonder Woman that was out. Not a small store in a small town either, so pretty impressive. i’ll have to hope i can get this somehow. :\

  4. TaZ
    September 25, 2011 at 4:56 pm — Reply

    I liked the art overall but I do agree that the “family portrait” of Wayne and Sons has proportions that are way off. Dick Grayson is too short and appears far too young even for a “younger” version. The comparisons of Dick as Gotham Batman to Bruce as Batman-Prime in the Batman Inc books was much more reasonable. And I also agree that Tim Drake is too short and youthful in that shot as well. The rest of the art was very good and very “mood appropriate” for the “main” Batman book. I’m not sure I like throwing this “lack of trust” arc in so soon after the establishment of Nightwing as part of the family but his own man and I’m hoping that we see an encounter between Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd sooner than later. I’m sure Bruce is not happy about someone running around with a Batman logo on their uniform while spraying bullets everywhere with a pair of custom .45s.

    It seems that “Detective” will feature Batman solo while “Batman and Robin” tries to figure out the relationship between Bruce and Damian and “Batman” may be the “Batman Family” title. Certainly much better than “Red Hood and the Outlaws” and “Catwoman”.

    • TheNewNum.2
      September 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm — Reply

      I do remember from the art in Gates of Gotham that Tim looked super young there as well… Gates was supposed to be a lead-in to what you’ll get to see in Batman going forward (actually, it was also very Bat Family oriented) so it might be purposely done (perhaps to distinguish the trio of tall good looking brown haired men more easily) rather than a strange artifact of the artist.

  5. Shane
    September 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm — Reply

    Lol, yeah, I was going to say something about Dick being way too short. Overall, I think the art was amazing, though I’m not a fan of the style he used for their faces. You pointed out that each character was unique, but I feel the artist was limited in his ability to do that. To me it feels that he only has options like broadening Bruce’s chin, widening shoulders, or exaggerations in scaling to accomplish this.

  6. Balian_Ironguard
    September 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm — Reply

    Bar none, the best comic I’ve read in this launch. As a ‘n00b’ who’s at least got a passing familiarity with Gothams folk, this book was firing on all cylinders for me. Scott Snyder’s writing got me into the story, and presented something that’s unique to me. The art got a little muddy with the elder bats in the group shot, but I was invested in the story untill the end. I will buy issue #2 sight unseen as long as Snyder and Capullo’s names are on the cover.

    • TheNewNum.2
      September 27, 2011 at 1:29 am — Reply

      I’m a bit of a n00b too, when it comes to actually buying the books as opposed to just following what’s going on in the industry, and I totally agree with you, this was an awesome read. Ending was cool too, eh?

  7. Damascus
    September 26, 2011 at 6:32 am — Reply

    I loved this book and I’m not usually a big Batman fanboy. The same scene that everyone’s harping on about body proportions (which I do agree) I liked quite a bit in the little dialogue there between the boys, it felt very natural. I also really liked that Dick, Tim and Damian are given an Access Level of High and Alfred’s Access Level is “Highest”, I know that shows a major degree of trust in Alfred, but does anyone think that there might be certain things that none of the other Robin’s have any access to and may not even know about that’s just between Alfred and Bruce. I’m sure there is, it is Batman we’re talking about. I loved the book and I can’t wait to read the next issue. There’s the Batman I want to read about, the good honest interactions with his wards and Alfred, his excellent Detective skills, it’s all there for me.

  8. Trey
    September 26, 2011 at 8:09 am — Reply

    There was one thing that really annoyed me about this comic. The silly contact lenses. I don’t mind the science fiction of them. It’s the fact that Bruce Wayne needed them. He used them to identify a Mayorial Candidate and Lip read. Both of these tasks should have been child’s play for him. Bruce Wayne would know all there is about any one running for the highest position in the city government and everyone knows he can read lips. To me it was just a way to do exposition but it came off as silly for one who has a comic called Detective Comics.

  9. Oldcomicfan
    September 26, 2011 at 10:50 am — Reply

    Batman has been a part of popular culture for nearly as long as Superman. Is there really anybody out there who DOESN’T know who Batman is, for Pete’s Sake? Did we really need a relaunch? That said, back when the Challenger disaster occurred, I was talking to a coworker about how the television coverage reminded me of watching the news coverage of the Apollo 13 disaster, only no Walter Cronkite. She turned to me and asked what the Apollo 13 disaster had been. When I told her that the command module of the lunar rocket had exploded, etc. and we barely got the astronauts back to earth safely, she looked blank and asked me “when did we go to the moon?” It turned out she had been born four years after the last Apollo moon shot! So I guess it is possible that there are people out there who have never heard of Superman or Batman, especially since comic books have only been available in speciality store since the 80s. The answer to increasing sales would be to put comic books back on grocery store shelves like in the old days, rather than rebooting the franchise every ten years or so. Imagine if chocolate bar companies only sold their products through special chocolate bar stores that people had to go out of their way to find. The sales of chocolate bars would plummet, too.

    • Newcomicfan
      September 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm — Reply

      chocolate bars also dont come with 77 years of baggage, story loopholes, inconsistencies, retconned events or alternate realities. you suggest that putting some comics in a grocery store will bring in more new readers than “rebooting” the titles to make for an easy jumping on point. i disagree, the sales are up in the comic shop i go to, which has been located in the area for over 20 years and is currently inside the local mall (not exactly hard to find. also there is a specialty candy store that gets great business). comic books are not difficult to find. its thanks to the comic book specialty stores, and later the internet comics still exist at all. the last month at least one of these specialty stores has been seeing a lot of new faces. hey did you know that toys r us sells comics? they do. but you didnt know that because you go to toys r us for toys, you go to the grocery store for milk, and you go to the comic shop for comics. btw. dont buy your comics from toys r us, theres a comic shop near by that would appreciate your patronage more.

  10. edcerc
    September 28, 2011 at 6:30 am — Reply

    am i the only one who thought this was a snoozefest?

    • Damascus
      September 28, 2011 at 9:04 am — Reply

      Thus far….yep. But hey, that’s what this is place is all about, different people with different tastes. I loved the new Suicide Squad #1 but saw lots of people bashing it. But the nice thing for you is if you don’t like this interpretation of the Batman, you’ll get a couple more before it’s all said and done to hopefully find something you do enjoy. Maybe Detective Comics will be more to your liking, it’s definitely got more action and craziness. I like it so far, and hopefully they build this story into something you’ll enjoy later, but if not, there’s 51 other titles to choose from. Something’s gotta hit you out of all that! lol.

  11. Monte
    October 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm — Reply

    For all you who have a problem with the characters’ height…
    Rorshach wore platforms. :)

    Batman #1 really worked for me. It had three of the things that Superman #1 didn’t have:
    -A nice, big “Huh?” moment (Batman & Joker?)
    -Character depth (Look at Damien in the panel with Drake, Bruce, and Tim – the fact that he’s wearing converse sneakers with his tuxedo tells you exactly what you need to know about him)
    -Something that has you coming back for the next issue (Last page, last panel)

    Oh, and a new favorite quote.
    “So it’s true, you actually practice brooding.”

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