In Review: Batman #5

DC, this Rebirth has been more than successful.

The covers: Gotham slams Batman with a hard left, a trail of blood showing how the blow has hurt the Dark Knight. A powerful Regular cover by David Finch, Danny Miki, and Jordie Bellaire that shows this issue is going to have a major fight. The emotion on Gotham is great; his scream of rage needing no text to express his hate of Batman. The coloring creates a dire tone, with the orange sky casting an almost supernatural pallor on the affair, and that stream of blood is an eye catcher and absolutely distressing to see. A great cover. The Variant cover is by Tim Sale and it has Gotham and Batman exchanging blows as they fall from the sky. The Dark Knight has a batarang line ready to swing him to safety if he can continue to evade the blows of the deranged hero. This, too, has strong coloring, with that orange sky being eerie. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Super powered Gotham, who has the abilities of Superman, has been warped by the Psycho Pirate into believing that the city whose name he’s taken needs to be destroyed. He flies down to the center of Gotham City and tells the citizens to run as his eyes begins to glow crimson. Batman can’t get there in time to the save the people, so he calls in the only back up he can think of: Alfred. Donning the iconic cowl and getting into the Batmobile, reciting his words to Thomas Wayne about how honored he was to be trusted with the care of little Bruce Wayne, the faithful butler speeds into the city at 196 hours per mile to ram Gotham from behind. The hero is hammered by the Batmobile and goes flying. Screeching to a stop, this “Batman” exits his vehicle to stand before the sick superhero and proclaim, “Fear not, citizens of Gotham. The Dark Knight has returned!” Rising from the ground, Gotham walks to the now mustached guardian of Gotham City, who, thankfully, gets the radio message he’s been waiting for. The conclusion of “I Am Gotham” is great. Tom King concludes this story in epic style. First, it’s Batman (the real one) versus Gotham. Readers know that this is coming and they get all they could wish for and more. Batman is easily out of his league fighting Gotham, but he has more than one trick up his sleeve, such as on Page 10. When Batman speaks three words at the bottom of 11, long time readers know what’s going to happen next, but it’s still a glorious moment on 14. As this massive smack down goes on, two characters are having an incredibly important conversation in the Batcave. Each brings something eminently important to the story. The conclusion of the story is a jaw dropper, with the narration being even more powerful than the visuals. This story is concluded, but the tease for the next story is a Wow! King has written an awesome tale and looks to be continuing that trend with a new character. Overall grade: A+

The art: This book is beautiful. David Finch is the penciller. He also inks his own work, and Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, and Scott Hanna provide inks as well. When Alfred puts on the costume and cowl on Page 2, Finch makes this moment work outstandingly, especially with the large panel at the bottom of the page that shows Pennyworth speeding off in the Batmobile. Page 3 has a driver’s point of view as the car speeds into Gotham (the hero), and the quick turn of the hero’s head to the car leaves the reader wondering if he noticed the vehicle soon enough. The top of 4 shows that he hasn’t, and that’s a great reaction by Finch showing the character getting hit. Starting in the second panel on this page, Finch continues the tradition of using past comic book creators’ names for signage on the street, with Newton’s Books being shown behind the Batmobile. As someone who grew up when Don Newton was drawing Batman and remembers when the artist left this world too soon, this was a fitting tribute. Gotham’s confrontation with Alfred is pretty frightening, with the high point being the fourth panel on 5. The next page starts with a spectacular entrance. 7 has a character getting hit by some objects that are rather gruesome looking, with the bottom of the page being just epic. And speaking of epic, Page 10 — Wow! I actually gasped at the imagery in the second panel on 12, because that’s just not done in a Batman comic! The teases on 13 are electrifying, causing me to hesitate slightly before turning the page so as to savor who I knew would be appearing. When I looked on 14 I practically cheered aloud: this is a splash page that will be discussed for a long time online. And as cool as this is, it’s the final panel of the last page that really pacts an emotional wallop. This was perfect artwork. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jordie Bellaire brings Gotham, the city, to life, as Gotham, the hero, runs amok. The first page as the twisted man comes down to the streets has the city colored in the bright garish colors that are similar to any evening in New York’s Times Square. The panels with Alfred in the Batmobile are gorgeously colored in green, to show the glow of all the computer terminals that look upon the butler as he makes his way to attack. The first panel on 4 is a great explosion of yellow and orange, that’s a drastic change in colors from the previous two pages, and it highlights the impact excellently. The arrival on 6 has the city go a rusty crimson, which shows the reader that even the sky knows things are about to get serious. The explosion on 7 is outstanding. The pale blue eyes of one character on 8 magnifies the character’s innocence. Note how the skies return to the rusty crimson on 10; things got serious again. The coloring moves the story forward on 13 because they signify a major change in the book’s lineup. Page 16’s greens and yellows are extremely radiant against the city’s color scheme. Also of note is the narration balloons in dark blue that contain yellow text — they are visually powerful, matching their text. Bellaire is bringing her A game to this book, so she earns that and a plus. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Narration, dialogue, book credits, and transmissions (all three the same font), sounds, the story’s title, frightened dialogue, text on a video billboard, and the tease for next issue all hail from John Workman. I would have preferred the three similar fonts be differed, but I was so wowed by the sound effects in this issue, I can forego some of my ire. The KCKRASSH, beep beep, and KBAMMM are awesome, and that’s only three sounds. Overall grade: A  

The final line: I haven’t felt this way reading a Batman story in years. The power, the drama, the definition of what Batman is, the visuals…They all are outstanding. DC, this Rebirth has been more than successful. Overall grade: A

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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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