Though this book has a “BATMAN REBORN” banner at the top, it's really the furthest removed from the status quo of all the current and new Batman titles. Yes it occurs in Gotham City, and yes it features three girls who've tussled with Bruce Wayne's Batman countless times before, but it's kind of its own thing.
Which is actually a breath of fresh air, considering that Batman in the other books is "Batman," while BATMAN is Captain Caveman. Oh, my.
Anyway, GOTHAM CITY SIRENS comes to us courtesy of my currently favorite Bat-writer, Paul Dini, and artist Guillem March, who obviously loves drawing the ladies. March's pencils certainly to be a little cartoony, especially married to Jose Villarrubia's vibrant color palette. But the book is meant to be fun, and fun it is.
I've read early descriptions calling this book "Charlie’s Angels where The Riddler is Charlie and the girls are Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn," and that's a better summary than anything I can come up with myself -- even though Riddler's thought processes might not be entirely his own.
(Let's just say Eddie's probably having lots of steamy dreams about flowers and weeds.)
The first issue begins with Catwoman musing about everything she's been through lately -- most notably Hush's literal stealing of her heart and the subsequent attempts by DC's finest scientists and surgeons and magicians to fix it. And though her ticker should be kicking like a friggin' freight train, she still feels mysteriously weak. It doesn't make a lot of sense at first -- until Dini pulls a Dini near the end of the issue and gives a thoughtful, character-driven explanation of why.
And that's why I like this guy's writing so much. Even when he's not writing what I'd rather see him writing, which is more quality stories starring Bruce Wayne as Batman, he takes what he's given and makes it sing. I was initially annoyed by the book's new villain, Boneblaster, until I began reading all of his dialogue out loud in a Macho Man Randy Savage voice. (Try it. It works.) But what really matters here is the girls, and Dini's got them all figured out right down to every little syllable. I think he did a believable and enjoyable job lining out each lady's motivations and concerns about a potential partnership, and by the end of this inaugural issue they have a deal and a home -- with a certain ultimatum from two of the girls to the other that leads into a nice little cliffhanger.
If you're only into Batman for Batman, you can skip this. But I enjoy Dini's writing, and I love female characters, and I had a lot of fun with it. (You can also expect Hush to appear in these pages sooner than later, which could really lead to some cool story possibilities. He's already hurt Catwoman. It will be interesting to see what tactics he turns against Harley and Ivy.)
Bottom line: I read this book with a big smile on my face. I loved the sexy art, I loved the wit and the pacing of the dialogue, and I admire how Dini always puts character motivations first -- even when he's having fun.
This might not be worth everybody's $2.99, but those are the reasons it was entirely worth mine. - John Bierly