Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 Review
- Published on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 01:00
- Written by Kevin
I have to be honest, Batman: Gates of Gotham is a mini-series that really snuck up on me. With both Flashpoint and Fear Itself dominating the marketing machines of Marvel and DC, I did not even realize that this mini-series was coming out this week. It was not until I got to my LCS and saw it on the stands that I found out.
With that said, because this is a Batman series with the phenomenal Scott Snyder at the helm, I could not help but pick it up. Readers of the Revolution know that I have absolutely loved the work that Snyder has done over on Detective Comics. Therefore, picking up this mini was a no brainer. It should be interesting to see how Snyder and his writing partner for this mini-series, Kyle Higgins, handle the other Batman Family characters outside Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon. Let’s find out with Batman: Gates of Gotham #1.
Writer: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Colorist: Guy Major
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Beginning in 1881 Gotham, Alan Wayne discusses his current plans with Edward Elliot and Theodore Cobblepot during a carriage ride. They arrive at the port were Alan introduces Edward and Theodore to Nicholas Anders, a young architect who will be building a series of bridges for the men. Though Edward and Theodore have their concerns, Nicholas shows the three men his plans for not just the bridges but the whole city of Gotham. They all agree that Nicholas is right man for the job.
Flashing forward to the present, Batman (Dick Grayson) is interrogating a criminal, demanding the criminal to tell him where the shipments of the new semtex drug went after reaching the harbor. The criminal tells Batman to find Penguin.
Before Batman can go look for Penguin, he hears an explosion go off over on the Trigate Bridge, destroying a good part of the bridge. Batman calls Red Robin to help him save the people on the bridge. However, Red Robin informs Batman that two other similar explosion have been set off in two different parts in Gotham. Batman tells Red Robin to handle whichever of the two explosions is worse and he will head over to the bridge.
Batman arrives at the bridge and saves as many people as he can with an impressive combination of his grappling hook and acrobatic, but he is unable to save everyone.
Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD finally arrive on the scene. Batman informs Gordon about the semtex case they have been on for the past few days and Penguin’s involvement. Gordon hands Batman some the information that the newspapers have published, which read “The families will fall by the Gates of Gotham.” Before Batman leaves, Gordon tells him not to be too hard on himself since not even his predecessor would have been able to save everyone.
Batman takes the Batsub to Penguin’s location. Batman talks to Red Robin who says that the three Gotham City bridges were known as The Gates.
Batman arrives at Penguin’s place. After getting through a bunch of BS, Batman finds out that the bridge located in Madison Street, one of the locations that was bombed, was originally named “Cobblepot Pass.”
In the morning, Dick finally gets back to the Batbunker were he meets up with Tim. Before they can further discuss what has been going on, Cassandra Cain enters the Batbunker. (Wow, two appearances in two weeks! This is a big month for Cassandra Cain fans.)
Dick is slightly surprised to see Cass. Not wasting time, Cass says she has been the one tracking the semtex (Batman Inc. #6).
Damian enters the conversation, angry at Dick for letting something with his name “go up in flames.” Dick does not know what Damian is talking about. Tim explains that all the bridges attacked were named after Alan Wayne, Edward Elliot and Theodore Cobblepot.
Over at Arkham, The Architect, in a steampunk style costume, enters Hush’s cell, asking him if he can “come out to play.” End of issue.
The Good: Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 was a great start to this new mini-series involving the Batman Family. Though this mini-series is not being promoted as a big event no one seemed to have told Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins as they treat this as the first issue of a big event. Both writers quickly set-up the history and characters involved in the story without losing the reader or having a slow the issue down.
When it comes to Batman, one of the most fascinating aspect of the character is the history the Wayne Family shares with the history of Gotham. Characters like Superman, who adopted the city of Metropolis as his city he protect, do not share a deep history with the city they protect, but Batman does. When it comes to Gotham City, Bruce Wayne is defined by both the history his family and what he has done as Batman. The Wayne Family has a long history with the city’s future. It was one of the best aspects that Grant Morrison brought with his run on Batman.
Snyder and Higgins are able to take this part of the character to give this issue an interesting opening and define to the reader what the story will be about. Though current Batman writers have done a fantastic job building up a history between the Wayne and Elliot family, BatmanL Gates of Gotham #1 reminds the reader that once upon a time the Cobblepot Family was seen as one of Gotham greatest families. With how Penguin has been portrayed for so long this is an aspect of the character that I forgot. It was a fun reminder and it was a cool tidbit that the three bridges of Gotham were originally named after the three families to further each family’s history with the city.
Carrying over what he has done with the character in Detective Comics, Snyder and Higgins continue to portray Dick Grayson as a constant performer. Without even second guessing himself, Dick is someone that will go in to save the day in any situation. His background as a circus performer has instilled him with a “No Fear” attitude. Seeing how quickly Dick went into the crumbling city and used his acrobatics to impressively save as many possible was a great visual that helps to define the character and show how his style differs from Bruce’s more aggressive style.
At the same time, I like that Snyder and Higgins show that Dick can also play the Dark Knight role by intimidating criminals. Living in Gotham City for so long Dick has had to build up a tough exterior. The scene of Dick traveling in the Batsub through the water that is filled with the dead bodies of people he could not save is a good way of showing this. Gotham is not the nicest city and everyone has to build a dark side to their personality and we see brief instance of this in his character.
I also enjoyed how the relationship between Dick and Commissioner Gordon was portrayed. It has always been hinted that Gordon knows who Batman is and it was good to see Gordon easily tell which Batman he is talking to. I liked that Gordon tried to instill some fatherly advice in the aftermath of the bridge’s destruction.
While we did not see it until the end of the issue, seeing Dick, Tim, Damian and Cassandra interacting was a lot of fun. While the first three appear in each other’s books all the time adding Cassandra to the mix added a cool extra character for everyone to play off with. With the mission the four will be on during this mini-series I look forward to the different pairings we can see. I hope we get to see Cassandra teaming up with Damian with both characters backgrounds as assassins.
Trevor McCarthy for his part delivered a gritty art style that is proper for the story being told. I was not completely impressed with his work but he did get the job done. There were a few scenes that he absolutely nailed. I loved the steampunk style McCarty gave the Architect character that appeared at the end since I am a sucker for that style. But, my favorite scene, by a mile, was seeing Batman saving all the people on the bridge. McCarthy did a fantastic job showing off Dick Grayson’s acrobatics.
The Bad: The one complaint I did have with the story of this issue was the ending with the new character, The Architect. The new character has a look that I dig but the whole ending felt overly telegraphed. It did not do its job to get me more excited for the next issue than I already was with the first 19 pages.
The art also had its fair share of problems. Though I enjoyed a lot of the in costume scenes, McCarthy and his colorist Guy Major’s did not seem to be on the same page. The art was all over the place with characters faces being horribly stretched out or lengthened to be almost inhuman. This especially true with the scene in the Batbunker where it was distracting how the characters faces got warped, such as the one panel that stretched Damian’s head to cover the whole panel.
Overall: Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 was a wonderfully crafted issue to get this mini-series off to a great start. Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins team-up to deliver great character work throughout the issue and quickly defined the history behind the events that will be happening in the story. Both writers did a good job giving this mini-series a big event feel with all the characters involved. This is an issue that all Batman fans will enjoy. If you are looking for something different from the typical big event I highly recommend picking this issue up. With a cover price of $2.99 you are more than getting your money’s worth with this issue.