REVIEW: BATMAN (Vol. 3) #3
AUTHOR: John Bierly (Follow @JOHNBIERLY)
DATE: July 20, 2016

SYNOPSIS: “I AM GOTHAM” Chapter Three.

Batman and Gotham strike out together to get to the bottom of the mysterious attacks against the city. Could this novel and headstrong new hero be everything Gotham City needs…at the cost of The Dark Knight?

Though it's still mostly a superhero story, BATMAN #3 finds writer Tom King flirting with a bit of the philosophical grit we've seen in the pages of his superb Vertigo title, THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON.

For an issue that's such a quick read, King packs in an origin for super-powered saviors Gotham and Gotham Girl that effectively defines their mission while leaving out just enough to keep them mysterious, culminating in an ending that's all the more effective for it.

The issue has a few small oddities; a flashback scene clearly depicts the new Batman costume covered up in the classic colors, right down to the Bat-Symbol's golden outline being rendered in blue. (It's an observation rather than a nitpick, as memories can sometimes add their own details, especially when we discover who's hearing the story.) And the language used to describe the flashback seems a bit unnatural considering its source, but I refer again to the sublime grime of King's writing on BABYLON. He's putting his own voice to Batman's adventures, and his work here continues to make him a welcome addition to Gotham City.

(I also felt Bruce's use of an alias in this issue was unusually reckless; the deceived parties could easily verify the ruse with even the slightest bit of follow-up, especially given how unique the name Bruce gives is. On the other hand, it's always fun to see this side of Bruce, and I'd have loved to have seen Christian Bale's take on this persona. But, alas. *sigh*)

David Finch's visual storytelling is strong and utilizes facial expressions well, and his action stuff is both big in scale and intimate in focus. One particular panel will bring great glee to anyone who ever played with M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand!) toys as a kid.

The origin bits with Gotham and Gotham Girl are efficient and emotional -- not only do we like them because of where they came from, but we worry for them more than ever now that we know them. Because if Solomon Grundy was barely too much for them in issue #2, all the powers in Gotham City and beyond won't be enough for the test they're about to face.

Once again, Alfred's wit is a highlight, and King continues to bring a lot of heart to the story and to its title character. This Batman shines brightly without compromising any of his power or purpose, though his optimism may soon take a hit if this issue's final page is any indication. King successfully expands what we know about Gotham City's new heroes while setting up a physical and emotional dilemma that's sure to test us all -- including Batman.

I'm up for the challenge, and I'm loving this book so far! - John Bierly

GRADE: A

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.


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