“Gates of Gotham” #5 does not end as strongly as it began, but it’s still a solid book with a strong ending to what was a compelling and different kind of Bat series.
Delving deeply into Gotham’s history, Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins brought us something new and interesting with this series, and an aspect of Bat books that is too frequently paid lip service to but not actually explored: Gotham as a character itself. In this issue, the story of the Gates brothers that helped build Gotham comes to a close as Batman (Dick), Red Robin, Robin, and Blackbat work to save the city from a series of bombs. There’s also a mystery man in a powerful hydraulic suit on a misguided mission of vengeance.
Higgins and Ryan Parrott handling the writing on this issue do fun things with the characters, and seeing the Bat family working together is always a treat. But the reveals feel a bit anti-climactic and too easy after such an interesting build over the last four issues. There’s a little too much explaining going on and I can’t help but feel there were stronger ways to end this series. However, on the whole it’s a good comic full of fascinating Gotham history, interesting hints for the future, and solid character development. The book even ties up nicely considering the re-launch, leaving all our characters in reasonably content places on the board and poised for change, whatever it may bring.
The art is good in this issue, and may be the best it has been throughout the series, though it has not been consistent throughout. Characters are nicely identifiable and there’s a lot of detail and layering in the city and backgrounds especially. The pacing drags a bit, but that’s more to do with story failings than art failings. Overall, Trevor McCarthy and Graham Nolan deliver a solid issue with some powerfully heroic high points and some emotional character beats. The colors by Guy Major are lovely as always. They’re dark and appropriately “Gotham” without ever becoming difficult to read or muddy.
“Gates of Gotham” was a strong series from start to finish and one of the better stories I’ve seen that focuses on the Bat-family. The strength of this series is largely thanks to the wonderful parallels it drew between past and present from the first issue to the last, combined with an opportunity to see the Bat family working together in all their functional dysfunction.