Comic Review – Batman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Like I said, I’m trying something new.” Batman

Rebirth – DCs attempt to fix some of the perceived flaws in the New 52 and start a fresh. Geoff Johns, who is spearheading it, has said he wants to bring back two things that have been missing from DC – hope and optimism. Batman tends to be associated with the dark and gritty. It was also one of the best, consistently fantastic series in the New 52. Will Rebirth keep up the high standard? Time to find out.

Bats rebirthBatman: Rebirth was co-written by Scott Snyder and Tom King, with art by Mikel Janin, colours by June Chung and letters from Deron Bennett. Tom King will be taking over writing duties entirely once the new series properly relaunches with Batman #1 in a few weeks, while Scott Snyder drove the writing of Batman throughout the New 52, and isn’t exactly moving away from the character as he returns with All-Star Batman later this year. Anyway, Batman: Rebirth kicks off with Duke Thomas turning up at Wayne Manor about the ‘offer’. He’ll be working with Batman in this new take on DC. Not only does Batman have another partner, but he’s back in charge of Wayne Enterprises (thanks to Lucius Fox).

Their first opponent will be Calendar Man. The seasons have been sped up dramatically and they’re cycling through an entire year’s worth in a single week (we have to assume this is local to Gotham, would hate to think what it would do if the planet’s orbit of the sun was sped up 52 times over!). He’s seemingly a single issue villain, although the comic reveals he lives in a cycle of rebirth which he comes back smarter and stronger from each time. Which of course is very thematic with DCs ‘Rebirth’ series. Duke and Bruce agree they’ll be ready and waiting for him and will hit him back stronger and smarter as well.

There are some key differences to the old status quo though. Despite being a ‘Robin’ Duke will not become Robin. He’ll be something new. We don’t know exactly what yet, another Batman? Batboy? So far all we have is his suit,  yellow with the Bat symbol on it. Their exact relationship will be confirmed in the coming issues, although Bruce does seem to be mentoring Duke.

As for the art, the level of detail is fantastic, everything from Bruce’s nearly entirely naked body to the background in the Batcave feels alive and action packed.

 

Final Verdict

Batman: Rebirth proves to be exactly that, a new beginning. It may have been a little heavy handed in the metaphors throughout the issue but it does the job well. I also like this take on Calendar Man. He isn’t a villain I’m too familiar with, but I don’t believe he was reborn with the seasons before. It’s a cool new power. I’m interested in seeing where they go with the Bruce/Duke relationship as well as apparently it’ll be something new we haven’t seen before.

Comic Review – Robin War #1 (DC Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“But… but…I’m Robin… I’m Robin… I’m Robin…” Not the REAL Robin

So like Adam I’m up to my neck in work (and having to house hunt out of the blue… yay…) as well this week, but that just means I need my weekly comic book escapism that much more! So, what to pick this week? Well Robin War (written by Tom King, Art by Khary Randolph) caught my eye, I’ve been a huge fan of the Bat-Family over the years. Like many people I caught the tail end of the old Adam West Batman and Robin TV show as a kid, then went through the growing pains of the Bat-Family in the 90s. Since the Nolan bat films Batman himself has come into his own, but the Bat-Family hasn’t quite had the same love. But DC are putting some real effort into that now! We Are Robin! was great, I’m loving Batman and Robin Eternal, and reviews for Robin, Son of Batman are great. Now we get plenty of Robin, without the Batman.

Robin warSince Batman’s been off duty as such in the comics, many of the current comics have focussed on how Gotham is coping without him. For some back reading the first We Are Robin! is probably pretty essential for this. Kids around Gotham have teamed up under the Robin name to kick some criminal ass, barely tolerated by the police and the ex-Robins (Jason, Tim and Dick) keeping an eye on their progress. The story opens with a member of We Are Robin! taking on a pretty standard liquor store robbery. They’ve got the situation under control, but remember when you were a teenager? Would you be able to handle difficult, high stress, high danger situations? Now imagine you and all of your friends were doing it at the same time. It’s inevitable something would go wrong eventually. Well, something goes wrong. This is a very powerful start, and gripped me. Once things settle down the art does a fantastic job of portraying this Robin’s sudden loneliness. The art in general is of the same high standard you’d expect from DC. There’s often a lot of people crammed into one panel and Randolph does a great job of squeezing in plenty of detail.

Robins around Gotham are targeted after this crime, the Robin Laws are passed and there’s a huge police crackdown on the Robins and the police maybe could be showing a little more restraint. Wait… this is America… it’s about as much restraint a you’d expect! We also get introduced to the main players in this series: We Are Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood, the Mayor, Jim Gordon’s Batman, Dick Grayson and Robin. Actual Robin that is, Damian Wayne.

And how does Damian take returning to Gotham after a hiatus to see a load of kids running around using his title? About as well as you’d expect. He’ starts to stamp his authority all over everything.

After which, the puppet master pulling the strings makes their next move. They want a war, and the first casualty is claimed. They also seem oddly happy to find out one of the team has arrived in Gotham, it looks like we’ll be seeing the comeback of one of my favourite heroes in this series.

Final Verdict

Do you like Robin? Hell, do you like Batman in general? If you do, go and read this. Especially if you’re at all familiar with Gotham in the New 52 Universe. Only some minor criticisms for this first issue: without reading We Are Robin! and knowing what’s up with Bruce Wayne right now you’d probably be a bit lost. Also, I in no way see how the events of Robin War and Batman and Robin Eternal can be considered canon at the same time. So I’ll just use the usual comic book logic and pretend they both somehow happen simultaneously.

Final Score – 9.5 Robins out of 10!