Wednesday, April 5, 2017

(DC Rebirth) Batman by Tom King issue #2

From what I can tell so far into the second issue for this flagship series, a lot of the classic mythos from the long run of Batman is being constantly rehashed here and rendered as something new, most possibly for the benefit of the fresh readership. This re-telling does not bother me, and I'd like to think that what Tom King is merely doing is paying tribute to the Bat-canon by allowing new readers to experience a version of one of its classic stories. This narrative choice makes sense too for DC's Rebirth theme in general since I believe the whole point of the re-branding is to revisit the roots of DC comics, and that includes some form of nostalgic appeal when it comes to framing the stories of their popular characters.

That being said, I would like to fully disclose that Dr. Hugo Strange is a Bat-villain I have loathed for a long time since reading Batman: Prey. He just rubbed me off the wrong way. And this was back in 2014 when I read it. So as soon as I got to the last few pages of this second issue where it was revealed that we'd be tackling Hugo Strange and the 'Monster Men', I was understandably torn. I seriously let out an audible grunt of dismay and annoyance to find that I'm going to have to deal with Strange again. Still, I actually have learned to appreciate the character more as years went by, mostly because of his recent adaptation in Fox TV's Gotham show during the second season. Actor B.D Wong nailed the character very well, or at least presented him in a way in which is villainy was convincing as well as his relevance to the canon altogether. The same thing goes for his exposure in the Arkham Asylum games which I didn't mind. I suppose my negative bias still holds in comics, however, but I will reserve any more critical judgments until I see how King plans to utilize him here for his story arc, I Am Gotham

Now I want to talk more about the other characters here, but first I want to get a cameo appearance out of the way. Solomon Grundy was featured in the beginning action sequence for this second issue. New superpowered heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl join in the mix to aid Batman in bringing down Grundy. It went as well as expected with a few hiccups here and there. I think I recognize Grundy from his appearance in The Long Halloween, if I'm not mistaken. Anyway, I liked the angle in which these superpowered newbies actually do look up to Batman and recognize the important work he had done for Gotham City. They weren't there to get into some trite macho contest with him or challenge his authority as a seasoned crime fighter or anything like that. So I like Gotham and Gotham Girl so far because they have shown humility by asking for Batman's tutelage as well as passion in what they want to do so they can help the city, even if they tend to get a little enthusiastic about it.

If all goes well, these two can even become dependable allies for Batsy, mainly to aid him in catastrophic events in which superpowers can make a difference in avoiding such disasters. Batman, of course, can acknowledge his fallibility; that he is not an invincible man physically---just someone who is resourceful and determined to fight. This was he told Alfred as to why he was willing to give Gotham and Gotham Girl a chance, and why he even introduced them to Commissioner Gordon. 

I would be remiss if I don't point out how witty and dry Alfred and James Gordon have been for this issue. It's refreshing to read Alfred being snarky as it reminds me of his Gotham counterpart. Gordon makes the best expressions too, especially after meeting the two superheroes aforementioned. What really takes the cake, though, was the fact that Batman pulled the Disappearing Act and even got the best of the two who were baffled that even they can't find him when they have superpowers at their disposal. That earned a chuckle from me. I think I'm going to have fun reading more Tom King if he keeps this up for the series.

I look forward for the third issue since Dr. Hugo Strange made his appearance at the last page, and I'm curious to see what direction King plans to take for the Monster Men storyline as well as how the presence of the two new caped heroes can serve the rest of the arc. I will hold off on giving higher ratings since I want to save them for issues that will truly stand out and shine. So far, it's all been a steady build-up to what I hope will be something spectacular!


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