By Scott Snyder, Tom King, Mikel Janin, June Chung
Well, DC’s latest “it’s not a reboot” is up and running. Last week’s DC Universe: Rebirth #1 was a solid start, establishing some new directions and tones for some of our favorite characters, Batman included. So far, Batman’s new status quo is very compelling.
This issue serves as a passing of the torch of sorts. Snyder and King both receive writing credits, so we get a little bit of the old while ushering in a new writer. Bruce’s voice feels like Snyder, yet King’s intentions start to blend in. From the start, it feels like King wants to use his spy knowledge to take Batman back to his seventies-style globetrotting/Bond era. This is a welcome change, especially since King seems like a man to put a great modern spin on things. Morrison touched on some of these elements in his Batman Incorporated stuff, but King is the man to push this particular take on the character to its logical extremes.
While wrapping up loose ends, King sets up his stories, including having Duke Thomas move into Wayne Manor. Deciding to give Duke his own identity instead of making him a new (and probably temporary) Robin was the right decision. This way, Duke is his own man instead of being destined to become “that time Robin was a black dude.”
We also get a new and pretty drastic take on the story’s villain, Calendar Man. Already, it seems like King understands what made the New 52 work and what didn’t. That nonsense with Freeze’s new origin was utter nonsense and he wasn’t the only one harmed by updating for the sake of updating. Calendar Man is a character that needed retooled and what King does with the character is utterly brilliant. He’s now a dark and complicated villain that fits perfectly with the rest of Batman’s contemporary gallery of baddies.
On the art side of things, Janin’s art is a wonderful way to show off what King wants to do with the series. King and Janin have already blessed us with their work on Grayson, so it’s only natural that they get paired together again to take on the big Bat himself. Colorist June Chung helps the art have a more “realistic” feel to the various environments and is definitely someone that should always be paired with Janin. This issue has a clean and modern look that goes well with Batman’s current position in life and just the status quo in general. It’s a shame that this isn’t going to be the regular art team, but Batman #1 boasts the artwork of David Finch and Matt Banning, a decent duo in their own right.
This is a very fun start to Batman’s post-Rebirth adventures; Tom King has already convinced this reviewer that this series is in capable hands. Reading Snyder’s All-Star Batman will be nice, but I wouldn’t sleep on King. If you can find room on your pull list, this is a book that should be on there. He’s the right man to take Batman in some interesting directions.