Solomon Grundy is on the loose. Two new superheroes are on the scene. Are they they heroes Gotham needs? And how will all of this impact Batman’s ego? Take the jump, as Major Spoilers reviews Batman #2 by Tom King and David Finch.
Previously in Batman: While steering a burning 747 into the Gotham river (long story, read issue one), Batman reflects on his life as a hero. It isn’t going to be a good death for the Dark Knight, as two new heroes (Gotham and Gotham Girl) come through at the last minute. Gotham is Batman’s city. Will there be room for two more?
THAT WAS THE END OF SOLOMON GRUNDY
A wise man once said, “Don’t do your best, do my best.” With Gotham and Gotham Girl on the scene, it seems things might actually be looking up for Gotham City. However, lurking in the shadows keeping track of the new heroes is Batman, who seems more than willing to tell them them they need to do better if they expect to be the heroes Gotham deserves. It is definitely a Batman thing to do, and deserving of a 4 on the Bat-meter, but when push comes to shove, it’s good to have a little extra help when it is needed most.
Which is an interesting statement to ponder for a moment.
Just when Barry Allen was thinking he needed help, a slew of new speedsters appear on the streets of Central City. And, when Batman was about to become a grease spot on the Gotham River, suddenly two new supers appear to save him. With both Batman and Flash aware that someone (aka The Watchmen, more specifically Doctor Manhattan) is manipulating the New 52 universe, I can’t help but wonder if these two events are connected in some way.
Meanwhile, at the GCPD… Gordon ponders the recent rampage of Solomon Grundy. An older man walks into his office, confesses to releasing Grundy, then stabs himself with a letter opener, uttering “The Monster Men are coming… aren’t they strange?” For a long time Batman fan, this is definitely a callout to Hugo Strange and the Monster Men from Matt Wagner’s 2006 two part Dark Moon Rising series, which is also expand and modernized versions of even earlier Batman stories.
It’s a good thing that Easter egg is dropped early in the story, as it leads to a satisfying payoff when Hugo Strange and Amanda Waller appear at the end of the issue. As you might expect, the duo are up to their old antics… again. Waller, looking to protect the city, and Strange… well, Strange is just strange. It’s a deliciously evil cliffhanger that makes me glad this series is bi-weekly.
The tale that Tom King tells in this issue is pure magic. There is a murder mystery, mystery men, and more than enough humor injected into this tale that shows what goes into a really good Batman story. There have been a few Batman tales over the years that I felt would make great episodes of a premium cable Batman series, and though this is only part two of a larger tale, I’m ready to add “I Am Gotham” to this list.
GOLDEN AGE AESTHETIC
I can’t help but really like the aesthetic design of Gotham and Gotham Girl. There are equal parts cheesecake and Golden Age design in the heroes costumes. Gotham sports what looks like factory worker clothing made of heavy leather. If it wasn’t for the cape and mask, you’d think Gotham was headed to work the open hearth furnace of a steel mill. While the upper portion of Gotham Girl’s uniform mimics Gotham, the lower half looks like she took inspiration from Michael Turner’s Supergirl, as her miniskirt shows a lot of leg. Every panel of the issue is exactly what I want to see in my Batman stories.
Adding to David Finch’s artwork are the colors by Jordie Bellaire. Here, the city and its characters have a brownish tint with blue highlights where needed (almost but not quite the classic orange and teal), while Batman, Gotham, and Gotham Girl stand out against the background with their gray, blue and black palette. While the city doesn’t have to be in deep dark shadows on every page, the muted tones give this issue a very moody feeling. It’s not the big bold colors that some people expect in their four color capes and tights books, I like what I see here.
BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT
Over the last couple of years, my interest in superhero books waned, but with Rebirth in full swing, I’m back on board and really enjoying the tale Tom King is telling. When it comes to Batman, I enjoy the mystery tales more than the superhuman antics Batman has engaged in. This issue is firmly in the mystery category, which makes this a must read for me.