Batman #3 Review

Written by: Tom King

Art by: David Finch

Publisher: DC Comics

Tom King’s run on Batman so  far hasn’t been what I expected. With King establishing himself so strongly on my mind with books like The Omega Men, The Vision and his very own Sheriff of Babylon, my expectations were pretty sky high. So far, it’s been a case of me reading each issue,  not getting what I expected, reading it again knowing what King was going for, then really enjoying it. As I grow accustomed to seeing King’s style a little differently, I enjoy the series more and more and am intrigued by the series overall. The problem often seems to be King having to suit his style to such a popular mainstream character, it leaves less room for his ability to really reinvent characters or produce complex and challenging situations since he’s playing with a character so many already know about and are heavily familiar with. There can sometimes be a good balance between King playing with our expectations while delivering lots of classic Batman moments, though this issue is unfortunately one of the ones that relies a little heavily on material we’ve seen before, even while focusing mostly on King’s new additions.

This issue focuses mostly on revealing more about Gotham’s newest superheroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl. I have to start by commending King on so far not falling into the cliched “promising new heroes turn out to be villains”, and with those suspicions beginning to clear up, it gives King room to develop these characters far better than he has so far. There’s quite a few interesting elements to their origins, and even allows them to be more fun characters and actually emote during the present day scenes. The only problem is how so much of their backstory does the age old “like Batman’s origin but with a twist.” It’s like I tried to say in my intro, King excels when he’s twisting tropes and ideas, this works brilliantly on a character such as The Vision, as he’s a character that not many stories have been told with. With Batman though, so many writers have told his stories in different mediums that it’s hard to find new angles. For example, the issue starts with another scene similar to Bruce’s parents being shot. It honestly made me groan, and even though the issue does indeed play it off differently, it feels so predictable because of this. On top of this, the issue features a ton of narration about what Gotham means and what it’s people are. I appreciate King’s abilities as a writer, but honestly it doesn’t feel like he’s saying anything new and makes the issue a bit long winded. It’s what makes the issue feel like something I’ve read before, despite playing with new ideas.

Despite this though, the series central narrative is moving at a pretty reasonable pace. I’m glad King didn’t really drag out the mystery of the Gothams, though still leaves enough out of their backstory to keep them intriguing and avoid a flat out information dump of an issue. Aside from the narration, the issue is pretty intriguing and kept my attention throughout. While also having less than last issue, it still does have some “so utterly stupid it’s awesome” moments for Batman, including something so ridiculous it may even top Tony Stark’s car armor from Waid’s recent Avenegrs book. I focused mostly on the negatives in the earlier half of my review, though there’s still quite a lot of enjoyable moments and King’s awesomeness to the script, the series has so far just been a lesson in expectation management, and why putting the hottest talent on the hottest character sometimes doesn’t work as expected.

Another plus of the issue is Finch’s art, managing to be a lot more consistent and polished than any of his recent work. His style really fits Batman and his world, making the character both fierce and intimidating, and the city gothic and beautiful. As it’s a slower paced and less action packed issue, Finch doesn’t really get a chance to stretch his legs, though still turns in some nicely handled work, and even managing to include some sweetly tender yet creepy moments, something hard to pull off.

Overall, Batman is definitely so far not what I expecting, but is intriguing in its own right and beginning to build its own voice from what came before it, despite a lurking feeling of familiarity. The story is moving to some really intriguing places and keeping me interested throughout. It may not be the best thing King has done, but it’s solidly entertaining and seems to be building to something great.