It is finally here! The third volume in Geoff Johns’ and Gary Frank’s reintroduction of Batman has made it out and I am going to talk about it! First off, you can find the book on Amazon now for around $20. And I would urge you to read the other two first because they are all closely connected.
Now to the review. Instead of talking about the story first this time, I want to praise Frank’s artwork in this book. His style always surprises me from Doomsday Clock and Superman: Brainiac. Him and Johns make a really good team that I will always read. He brings a grimy reality to the books that I find almost definitive for both Superman and Batman. He does a great job drawing the streets of Gotham and the emotions on everyone’s faces. I always feel enveloped into the story whenever his art is present.
Now to the story itself. It picks up right after the second volume and capitalizes on the characters that were created in the previous story arc. Catwoman is a part of the game and makes for a playful ally. Sadly, there just isn’t enough time to enjoy this Selina Kyle, who deserves a spinoff book. I, also, love seeing Killer Croc step up as a team member in Batman’s new crimefighting group (More on this later). It shows a lot of growth for the character and the constant worry of if Waylon will ever become a villain. Jessica Dent is working hard to protect Gotham and, although the plot twist was predictable considering what ended the previous book, they did surprise me with Harvey’s body. I honestly thought that maybe he had returned. Instead we did get a good story of Jessica suffering from a split personality where her brother takes dominant control of their body. It’s pretty messed up and leads into the formation of the Arkham Asylum, a place where sick criminals will be cured. Yeah, right….
Another character or duo I wish that we saw some more from was Gordon and Bullock. I loved them in the other books and I was really hoping that we got to see more from them in this installment. However, I feel like they are underused, much like Catwoman, and just serve as another addition to Batman’s crimefighters.
The other plot in the story besides Jessica’s transition into two face is the resurfacing of Adrian Arkham, Bruce’s grandfather. I loved what Johns did when he made Martha an Arkham to change Bruce’s origin. It adds some understanding as to why this dude is crazy enough to go out dressed like a bat beating up thugs. And this character and story made me quite emotional. Adrian is made impossibly believable because we thought that he was dead with the rest of Bruce’s family. So, right away you think that this is another scam, but you believe the story as you see how heartbroken Adrian is about his granddaughter’s passing and the connection he has with Bruce. The ending of this story that revealed Adrian to actually be Clayface somehow surprised me even though I started the book with that doubt. And this is exactly where I think this story shines. It is a two-face story! Both plots have you not trust and predict the change but do such a great job at making you believe them until it turns out to be true. They are two-faced stories that have two different agendas going on and that is why I love it so much. It surprises you even though you carry that doubt in the back of your mind while reading it.
Now before I end, I would like to talk about the book’s ending. I have made it clear that I like this story a ton, but the final pages annoy me beyond end. I don’t like the jump in time. I don’t like the fact that we only get one panel showing Robin’s origin and then he’s suddenly on the team. Oh, and this team, I feel like it is too soon for Batman to have this group of outsiders. Yes, Croc has been a loyal member and Alfred the goddamn Butler. But, Bruce had to bribe Catwoman to help, why is she there suddenly a hero. And more importantly, how are Batgirl and Robin both there! Neither of them have been given costumes or shown themselves to be heroes alongside this Bruce Wayne as of yet. We don’t’ even know who this Robin is!
…and then there is Joker. I like that Joker is coming to town and the connection to Superman’s villain Toyman, but it makes no sense that he is just coming to kill some kids and pets when he has no reason. He hasn’t known or fought Batman. He has no obsession or perceived obsession with Batman at this point. How the hell does he know Robin and Batgirl? We don’t even know them yet!
I am only critical here because I am passionate about this story. I love Batman Earth One and most importantly I love how slow it was going. I really enjoyed being able to watch Bruce become the crimefighter that we know in this new origin. It pains me to see stories such as the introduction of Robin or Batgirl being glossed over for yet another Death in the family story. Perhaps this is just a glimpse as to what is to come, but it still doesn’t make sense then.
Overall, I really did love the story, but the last few pages that jump forward in time are unfair for this Batman and the fans that spent time enjoying seeing a Batman origin once again. I do recommend the book as it is a beautiful story with great characters and some perfect Batman moments. I’m sure my score below will make it clear how much I love the story. It is just a few steps from greatness…
(How good is the story? Does it stand up to others?)
(Does it tell the story? Does it work well with the character?)
(Does this story need to be told? Is it helping the Character?)
(Is the character represented well? Does the writer understand the character?)
Total: 18.5 / 20