Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo left behind a wide, open road for their successors on “Batman,” and Tom King and David Finch take full advantage of that in “Batman” #1, one of the more anticipated releases stemming from DC Comics’ “Rebirth.” King and Finch don’t try to top or one-up their predecessors; instead, they confidently march forward in a simple and straightforward direction of their own, with Batman and Jim Gordon back in their traditional partnership. The look and feel of this “Batman” is different, but the creative team’s first go at the character is every bit as engaging, opting for all-out action over psychological suspense or detective-style mysteries.
There’s a certain comfort in this return to the old and familiar status quo, and readers won’t be able to help but crack a smile when Batman disappears on Gordon mid-conversation. There’s only the briefest of reintroductions, as King reestablishes the old-is-new dynamic between the two, while also establishing the premise of the story just in time to throw in its catalyst. The action starts after only a couple of pages and doesn’t let up, as King delivers a high-octane and well-paced thriller that puts Batman in a situation he’s arguably never found himself in before.
Finch energetically introduces the Dark Knight as he plunges from the rooftops down through Gotham’s concrete canyons and into a new, but familiar-looking Batmobile that borrows from more than one of the vehicle’s iconic interpretations. Finch evokes a stylish and genuine sense of noir in his art, aided by colorist Jordie Bellaire’s orange-dominated shades, which give the city a moody, summertime feel. Inker Matt Banning’s thick embellishments give the art a kind of coarse, Walt Simonson-esque feel, a vibe that’s further embellished by letterer John Workman. Finch’s layouts are also superb throughout and lend to the suspenseful pacing of King’s story. Finch and Banning give Batman an appropriately hard and gritty appearance, while Gordon returns to the old-school, hard-boiled look he’s best known for.
Parts of King’s script get a little technical with numbers and may make readers feel like they need a degree in aerospace engineering at times, but — in all cases — the mathematics don’t really matter and ultimately lend a sense of realism to a story that drives Batman to limits rarely seen. King’s dialogue has some swagger, and he sprinkles in some emotion as his story reaches its peak; there’s a convincing and almost poignant sense of peril. Few will honestly believe the likely outcome, but King makes it emotional nonetheless.
“Batman” #1 is well-structured and attractive beginning to the character’s next era. This debut issue will appeal to fans of Snyder and Capullo’s run as well as those who have been waiting for a return to some of Batman’s more basic elements.