In Review: Batman: Rebirth #1

Entertaining, but not a "Wow" book.

The covers: Four covers that I’ve been able to locate online. There may be more, so good hunting! The Regular cover is by interior artist Mikel Janin featuring an extreme close up of Batman’s head as he’s holding a batarang before him. It’s dark, it’s moody, yeah, it’s Batman. My physical copy of the book is much darker than any image shown online. A lighter background would have allowed the Caped Crusader to be seen more easily, but this works. The Variant cover is by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi and it follows all the variants’ pattern: a character, or two, on a white background. This spotlights a fairly bulky Batman with his fists up, ready to take a swing at anyone who’s up for the challenge. The costume and cowl is armor and that’s fine, but the Batman within this book isn’t wearing an armored costume anywhere as bulky as this. There are also two covers as part of a “unique partnership” between DC Comics and Aspen Comics. Both covers will be available online to order or can be picked up at the upcoming Denver Comic Con and the San Diego Comic-Con at the Aspen booth. Both covers feature artwork by Michael Turner; one cover is colored and the other isTurner’s pencils. It’s a fantastic image of Batman gazing at the sky. I would recommend either for collectors. Overall grades: Regular B+, Variant B+, Turner colored A+, and Turner pencils A-

The story: Alfred is in the back of the mansion pulling an avocado from a tree when he’s alerted someone is at the door. It’s Duke Thomas who says, “I’m here about the offer?” A text bar at the bottom of the page states “Monday: Spring.” The scene them moves to a partial double-paged spread of Batman being fired upon by the new Calendar Man. The villain is shooting spore filled projectiles at the hero. The villain raves that the there will be two springs this year since people are trying to control the seasons. Batman easily knocks him out and contacts Gordon to ask about the air outside the criminal’s lair. The commissioner says it’s saturated, which causes the Dark Knight to order everyone back. The room he’s in with his unconscious foe is swarming with spores, so he contacts Alfred and orders max charge. The faithful servant hesitates and Batman yells, “The spores get out, everyone dies! Max charge! Do it!” Something within his suit clicks and a burst of electricity pours out of his costume, causing the hero to scream in pain the action causes him. This is a really exciting beginning from writers Scott Snyder and Tom King. The rebooted Calendar Man is terrific: gone is the suit he wore, instead a jacket full of dates and Roman numerals tattooed around his bald head constituting his new look. Later in the book it’s revealed he does something else and it’s cool and disturbing. I haven’t bought a Batman book since the first five issues of the New 52, so Duke is a new character to me. He knows Bruce is Batman and they have some history. It’s revealed he’s been a Robin, but Bruce doesn’t want him to be Robin, and the reveal on 12 is incredibly interesting. Lucius Fox makes an appearance as Bruce trains, which is surprising, given that anything can be seen from a satellite, why Bruce is doing such a public action. The book has a big climax, but it’s the other characters that make this interesting, Alfred, Duke, and Lucius. Readable, but nothing memorable. Overall grade: B

The art: Excellent visuals on this book by Mikel Janin, with the partial double-paged splash of 2 and 3 being tremendous. The top half of the book has Batman spreading out his cape mid-leap as he’s fired upon by the villain. The bottom half of the book is broken into seven panels that form the bat icon of the title character. The new look of Calendar Man is outstanding, and the image of him in the center panel is terrific. Having the spores flitting every which way is also well done; in fact, the reader will probably be scratching his or her nose at the visuals of all the spores. The third to last panel is difficult to make out: where the hero is and what he’s done to the antagonist is questionable. The perspective of Page 6 is awesome; perfectly rendered and very dramatic. The following page is terrific as the panels play Bruce off of Lucius visually. The showstopper of the issue are Pages 10 and 11 which is a double-paged spread showing the Batcave. In it are all the iconic items, including the oversized Joker card, Robin’s suit in a case, and several versions of the Batmobile. This is a spectacular image that will have fans pouring over to spot as many classic references as possible. It’s also an excellent way for DC to acknowledge what exists in Batman’s past with this “rebirth.” The reveal on 12 is terrific and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen with this item. Batman’s slow appearance on 12 is extremely cinematic, with his cape being a gorgeous visual. Page 17 is gross but perfect for what’s occurring; feels like something more X-Files than Batman, but it worked. Janin knows how to draw, that’s for sure! Overall grade: A

The colors: This book is drab and dreary beyond belief. This will keep me from purchasing Batman comics. The book doesn’t have to be over the top Technicolor of the 1960’s series, but this issue feels heavy because every color is muted as though shot through a filter. Even the opening three panels of the exterior of Wayne Manor have a muted green. The battle with Calendar Man is given a dark mustard and washed out pea green. When the story transitions to Tuesday, the background color is mustard yellow. The Batcave uses hospital light blue to show it off. Why would Batman keep it so dark? After the climax, the colors are a bit brighter, but are still so muted so as to have all foliage and characters meld into a blob. June Chung is making this depressing to look at. Overall grade: D+

The letters: Dialogue, dates, story’s credits, sounds, transmissions, and teases for the upcoming monthlies hail from Deron Bennett. The dialogue is an elegant thin font that suits the characters, while allowing them to sound strong when they become stressed. A good job. Overall grade: A

The final line: Entertaining, but not a “Wow” book. This is setting things in place for the monthly adventures, obviously, but if the visuals are this dark because of the colors I won’t be purchasing them. Overall grade: B-

To order the Michael Turner Variant cover go to http://AspenStore.com

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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