Gotham is a monster. Gotham is the dark. Gotham lives and breathes and eats. It creates the Bat and the Bat creates it. And no one knows for sure if either deserve saving.
I’m the kind of geek girl that some dudes hate. I got into comics the “backwards” way that led from cartoons to movies to bittorrent to actually braving the doors of my local comic book shop and picking up some titles. Which means that I didn’t seriously pick up a comic until I was in my late 20’s, deep in the law school slog. Which also means that this was right before the New 52 was introduced, right when Batman (and Batfam) comics were at, what could be argued, the height of their interconnectedness, weighed down by decades of backstory and history.
I loved it.
Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey was my real, true entré. But after that I skipped around to Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl, Greg Rucka’s Batwoman and pretty much any other title that tickled my fancy. And, yes, there was definitely a theme. I have been, and always will be, a fan of female titles first and before all else and Bat titles a step after that. I am a woman of simple, pointed tastes.
Which is all to say that the specific era in which this story takes place wasn’t new to me. And that’s a good thing, because, word of warning, this is not pop culture’s Batman, it isn’t even Bruce Wayne’s Batman. Nope, this Batman is Dick Grayson, a Dick who had to pick up the cowl after Bruce Wayne’s not-really-real death (when is comic book death ever really real?) and become the hero that Gotham needed. After all, we all know that Gotham needs Batman.
Scott Snyder unfolds a tale that is uniquely Gotham and unequivocally Batman, regardless of who inhabits the cowl. Snyder understands Gotham, its vile darkness and the heroism that bubbles up out of the cracks, and he weaves a tale that interrogates identity and examines what makes a hero and what makes a villain.
It’s that old nature or nurture argument writ large in that way that only comic books can. There’s a reason why superheroes are our modern myths and this book exemplifies the way that comics, at their best, can echo our collective unconscious and spool tales that reflect our brightest dreams and our darkest nightmares.
It’s good stuff.
That art is stinking fantastic. I’m still not always in the right reading rhythm when it comes to art in comics–it tells so much of the story and sometimes I skim through too fast, catching only the words and missing everything else. I didn’t do that, couldn’t do it, while reading this book and I’m so glad I didn’t. They absolutely make the story. They’ve stuck with me, days after finishing, flashing across my mind and catching me unawares–almost like a little piece of Gotham broke off and stayed with me, for better or worse.
It’s a great book AND it’s a great Batman book. If you haven’t read it you definitely should.