Mr H. And Alex Discuss: Batman #1

batman-1 2016It’s been a couple weeks, or maybe months… Anyway, after a hiatus that’s been far too long, Mr. H and Alex are heading back to the Batcave to have a chat about Batman #1. Released on the 15th of June, the comic is the first chapter in Tom King and David Finch‘s I Am Gotham story (although with it being Batman #1, that’s almost a given…), and features inks from Matt Banning and colour work by Jordie Bellaire. Both Alex and Mr. H picked up the comic on Wednesday, and after allowing themselves a day to digest the first issue of Batman post rebirth they had something to say about the comic.

As always with these features, there will be spoilers from here on out.

Alex: Okay, so it’s no secret that both you and I were fans of the New 52 Batman run by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and while there were certainly some issues that either you or I didn’t like, for the most part I think it was the best 50 odd issue run that DC have put out- certainly during the New 52 years.
But the New 52 came to an end and we’ve been given a new Batman series by Tom King and David Finch, Batman #1, that was released June 15th for $3. First things first; was it worth it?

batman 1 scan 1Mr H: Oh undoubtedly. People going into this looking for a direct continuation of what Capullo and Snyder did will possibly be disappointed. This one to me was just an opening declaration by the new team. They did something very refreshing and that is, instead of hurling another new or reused Bat Villain at our Caped Crusader, they put him in a real world crisis situation. True, planes falling out of the sky heading towards populated cities might be more of Superman’s beat, but that’s what made this good.

Batman had to use his wits, and his guts to stop a commercial aircraft from coming down on his city all by his lonesome. It was an epic sight. The writer’s plausibly had the Justice League out of commission for this one, since in a world with a Justice League this would be handled quicker than grabbing a cup of joe at drive through during rush hour.

Batman’s response when Alfred told him no help was coming was epic. “This is my city. I’ll save it.” Pure Batman.

Alex: I know we’re only an issue in, but I’m hopeful for Tom King’s take on Batman. He seems to have a pretty good handle on the character – or at least my interpretation of the character – that I’m excited for the future. Yeah, it’s a different Batman than we’ve been getting recently; Batman utilized his support team more in this comic than he has done previously (you can’t tell me that the New 52 Batman would have asked for help on the mathematically calculated angle).

I think you’re right when you say that this entire comic is a declaration from the new team – there’s such a different feel here, and yet King throws some subtle (and not so subtle) nods to previous iterations of the Dark Knights history. “You get the hero you deserve, you know. And what… what do we deserve?” coupled with the awe in the kids eyes? That’s when I knew I’d stick around.

Mr H: Great point and catch! I missed that. I have been following Tom King on his whole Grayson run and no one handled Dick Grayson better. So I have high hopes for Bruce. He’s going to bring a lot of different things to the table for sure.

I want to take a moment to talk about the pencils by Mr. David Finch. He’s no stranger to drawing Batman but I really enjoyed his creativity here, especially the splash pages and the shot with the plane. My favorite panel by far was when Bruce was in the ejector seat heading up in the sky towards the plane. It was a thing of beauty.

Alex: I loved the pages before – where Batman took a nose dive off the roof. I loved the full body shot, and then the layout of him slowing his descent. Simple, but so awesome. I’m a big fan of David Finch; his run on Moon Knight several years ago is a thing of brutal brilliance, and so I was pretty happy when he was announced as the Batman artist.batman 1 scan 2.PNG

The imagery of Batman riding a passenger jet was pretty awesomely done, eh?

Mr H: You know I thought I saw it all when during Snyder’s run we saw Batman corral a tiger. Then we see in the opening of Tom King’s run has Batman wrangle a freaking plane! It was so new and innovative. What really made it pop though is the dialogue between Batman and Alfred. In one of the most touching scenes I can remember, when Bruce realizes that he isn’t going to make it this time, he solemnly asks Alfred if this would be a good death and “Would mother and father be proud of me?” Wow. What a moment.

Alex: Yup. The calm detachment that Bruce has as he’s effectively giving his last wishes as he steers a plane like a bloody horse (let’s not lose sight of that), was really well done. There was no getting away from the fact that as far as he knew we wasn’t walking away from this – and he was okay with that. This was a Batman at peace with his decision. He had finally found what so many warriors look for: a good death. He wasn’t failing to save somebody, his death wouldn’t mean others would die… quite the opposite. His death would mean he succeeded.
I’m not naive, I knew that he’d survive one way or another, but when the plane righted itself with “Clark?” I genuinely felt a bit of the hope that I think Batman did (he’s not gonna die!) and yet more than a little “oh yay, Clark saves the day!” It was a unique mix of eye rolling hope, honestly, that Superman found a way to help his friend.

But no! We have a new player on the scene. I think that final scene was very well done, honestly; I saw it as King flipping the bird at the whole idea of comic book death, sacrifice and the deus ex machina that would always save the hero’s life.

Mr. H: So well put and the analogy of a warriors death. You are two for two on pick ups this month! That skipped by me too. Now the only thing I’m not sure on is the inclusion of the two new heroes at the end. I’m intrigued. Just not sold.

One thing that is clear, Duke is no Robin. He’s seems much more of assistant than a protégé like the previous sidekicks. Almost like he skipped a level. As long as he’s written well, I’m more than ok with it.

Alex: You know, I’m curious about the two new heroes. It can go either way, I think, but I’m looking forward to what King has in store.

I think that a well written Duke in a support role primarily is probably a good move, thematically. Much has been made in the past of Batman’s willingness to put young people in harms way – I think this is a smart way to side step that issue, at least until his training is complete (the suit we saw in Batman Rebirth #1 tells us he’ll be in the field eventually).

Mr. H: The two heroes seem too generic to me that’s the main gripe but we haven’t seen nothing of them yet. Duke on the other hand has been great since his introduction and even better in We Are Robin.

Alex: I honestly know very little about Duke Thomas other than what was in Batman. I never read We Are Robin, nor any of the Eternal comics, but the character seems pretty interesting. Gotham and Gotham Girl? Like you, I’m intrigued.

Mr. H: I definitely don’t want this title to be a retread and trotting out of old villains and old concepts. I think we will get just the opposite. This is a Batman that inspires hope and I want to see a hell of a lot more of that.

Coming soon on a future Discusses, Mr. H and Alex are going to be talking about Batman #2, Paul Dini’s autobiographical Dark Night: A True Batman Story, and maybe they’ll eventually finish talking about Captain America: Civil War.