Batman: Li’l Gotham #22
by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
It’s Daylight Savings time and the Clock King is about to take advantage of the time change by freezing the entire world at the moment the clocks are meant to switch. The character has shown up in many different incarnations in DC history over the years, but Ngyuen’s rendition seems most closely connected to the version that appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. As any good villain would, Clock King looks to gain global domination with his time-freezing device, but has not accounted for the possibility of more than one timeline.
It is a wonder that, as this Li’l Gotham approached two dozen issues, it still continues to find calendar-related events to base its stories around. With the recent passing of the Daylight Savings clock-changing, Nguyen and Fridolfs find a way to call upon yet another bizarre villain from Batman history. Each issue finds ways to both reference the colorful history of the character while also entertaining its readers with the Nguyen’s renditions of these individuals. While Clock King is a pretty simple character visually, the issue calls upon several incarnations of Batman to face this foe. There is a lot of enjoyment to be had in their appearances.
Issue number twenty-two is one of the simpler entries in the title’s catalogue. The Clock King, a.k.a. Temple Fugate, has a plan, though it is a rather thin one. Meanwhile, older version of Bruce Wayne has found a way to cause several alternate versions of himself to travel to this moment in this reality to stop the villain. Nguyen and Fridolfs sprinkle in a good bit of humor as these incarnations attempt to work together. Ultimately, however, the strategy and takedown of this villain is almost as basic as his own plot. It is a wonder, other than for referential purposes, why so many different versions of Batman are called upon this time around.
Nguyen manages to give his own design aesthetic to each of the Batmen and it makes for some fantastic art. Not only are the character designs beautiful, but when Fugate does freeze time, the panels to follow of Gotham in black and white are the best in the issue. Additionally, there are plot elements in this story that do come as a surprise and improve the enjoyment of the issue.
When a series has such a high bar for quality, a decent entry can feel disappointing. More important, however, is the reality of just how routinely magnificent Nguyen and Fridolfs have been. The twenty-second chapter of the Li’l Gotham is in no way poor and is still a high quality release. Still, readers may find themselves a little less satisfied this time around.