Monday, April 3, 2017

(DC Rebirth) Batman by Tom King issue #1

It's the very first issue of Tom King's run for Batman, and I didn't know what to expect but it certainly isn't an airplane about to crash Gotham, and the fact that only Batman has to stop it since the Leaguers who can prevent such a crash by using their superpowers (Sups and Lantern) are currently fighting their own monsters. As far as an action-oriented piece of story goes, this first issue had been spectacular. David Finch's illustrations were gripping to look at even if his overall style so far hasn't been at his best, at least as far as comparing it to his earlier work in his own line for The Dark Knight series during the New 52 lineup. 

Since this issue was action-based, there is not much content to talk about regarding the plot itself as of yet except of course the revelation at the end which definitely proves rather promising to see unfold by the next issues. What I would like to discuss first is the underlying commentary regarding Batman as the self-appointed hero and defender of Gotham City. Unlike the aforementioned Leaguers, Batman, of course, does not possess superpowers. His speed, agility and strength came foremost from a rigorous training regimen that Bruce Wayne had explored all his life. He had to travel through continents to learn and hone several fighting techniques before even coming back to his city so he can start his one-man crusade. He has immense wealth and above-average intelligence to match his physical prowess and this was why he was regarded not just as a formidable fighter but also as a great detective. But it's mostly about his wealth as a Wayne heir that enabled him to sustain a crime-fighting nocturnal career. How else can he build his own Bat-cave and other gadgets if he didn't have serious cash to burn?

There are many obvious reasons why Batman is a lot of people's favorite go-to hero and they mostly have something to do with state-of-the-art weaponry, gritty person as the Dark Knight who stalks the criminal underworld, his incomparably unique Rogues' gallery; villains who are just as off-beat and compelling as he is, and---the primary reason we often hear nerds would say---the fact that he was not blessed with superpowers but had rather acquired his skills through sheer will and discipline alone. We can also add his personal tragedy into the mix; an orphaned boy who had to watch his parents get gunned down by a mugger one fateful night and how that traumatic experience and his survivor's guilt changed and tempered him into a badass steel.

So why do I tackle something that's already general knowledge about Batman? It's because this first issue by Tom King seems to have the makings of exploring why Batman is the hero Gotham needs/deserves. It's a theme that had been written countless times in the long 75 years run for the character in comics. It's something of a staple now too that in the hands of a capable writer who may have great insight to share, the story of examining why a flawed, human and determined crime fighter like Batman appeals to us (by the simple reason that he lacks superpowers and yet gets shit done anyway and does it so with style) can be a worthwhile read once more for both old and new fans who are reading this title. Sure, it's been done to death, but who says it can't happen again and be magical just the same? Say, you've read this issue yourself, and then you got to those crucial pages where the airplane is guaranteed to crash and burn straight into the heart of Gotham. Now, tell me honestly as you read it---

---did you ever doubt that Batman would be unable to pull off something awesome and save everyone at the last minute?

Superhero comics are a wish fulfillment designed to tell stories of heroism and vibrant hope where one man or woman's fierce dedication and strength of will can make a difference in a city often bereft of redemption in the first place. Since they operate that way, a hero saving the day is no strange feat and may even be formulaic and predictable. And so when Batman was able to swing the direction of the malfunctioning airplane by riding it like a badass (the mechanics of which you need to read for yourself so pick up the issue), readers like me are willing to suspend belief and just say, "Yes, of course he can do that shit. He's Batman!" 

It's the same sentiment that Jim Gordon has. He had rather comedic lines for this issue, the most notable of which is when he contacted Batman to ask where he is in the middle of all this commotion, and Batman confidently answers, "I'm on the plane." And Gordon's ready if not snarky response was, "Of course you're on the plane." He knows that Batman is already about to prevent the latest disaster as it strikes Gotham City. Of course he is! With an almost cynical scoff yet grateful relief, readers do the same thing too every time Batman rises up to the challenge and we don't have to pretend anymore that it's anything we can expect otherwise.

The last two pages has Batman about to crash the airplane on sea to hopefully avoid more casualties, but suddenly two flying caped crusaders came swooping in to lift it from under Batsy. His reaction was to call out Sups' name because who else can do that? He was mistaken, however, and instead came face-to-face with these amusingly clad champs who apparently are the new heroes for the city. They even named themselves appropriately in case to make the representation as clear and concise as possible.

This should be fun.


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