Batman, Volume 1: I Am Gotham

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3.5 stars.

I don’t get all the hate for this series, to be honest.

I really enjoyed the first 3 issues in this volume. I love this version of Bruce! I really like Duke as a character, both here and in Snyder’s All-Star Batman. I even liked the Gotham/Gotham Girl plot when it was just starting out. However, once this started coming to a close and Gotham started to dissociate, I lost interest. I get why this plot exists but I was not a fan.

Anyway, this starts with Bruce taking on Duke as an apprentice. I’m not entirely sure where they met but I really like Duke as a character. I really like his relationship with Alfred, as well. Much like the rest of the Batfam, he came into Bruce’s care because of a parental tragedy and Bruce is helping him pick up the pieces by turning him into a crime fighter. Duke is sweet. He’s caring, selfless, pretty damn smart and he reminds me of Dick in that he takes care of others. I would gladly read more about this character.

The first real issue in the “I Am Gotham” storyline is Bruce trying to stop a plane from crashing into Gotham City. There’s a moment where he talks to Alfred about his letters for the boys in the event of his death and he asks whether his parents would have been proud. Not gonna lie, I teared up a bit during this scene. I’m not the world’s biggest Bruce Wayne fan. I usually find his personality to be extremely bland in books without the Batfam but here, I found him interesting and relatable. Somehow King makes him a well rounded character. Go figure.

I must add, Finch’s art is Grayson levels of gorgeous. Seriously, Bruce looks freaking amazing in this book.

Anyway, he meets Gotham and Gotham Girl. Let me get my complaints about this out of the way now. Why does she have to be Gotham Girl? 1. I’m pretty sure she’s of age and 2. the guy isn’t called Gotham Boy or Gotham Guy. Whatever. Claire/Gotham Girl is sort of removed from all of the important parts of this story. She’s not there when their parents nearly die and Hank first encounters the Batman. She’s not shown fighting crime as much as Hank or getting as much advice from Batman. The last half of this volume, she’s back at the Batcave cowering from the effects of the Psycho Pirate (which… okay) which is some classic, 50’s comic book BS. Gotham gets turned into the Superman from hell and she’s just scared of everything. Thanks. Add to that the implication that they became superheroes because it was Hank’s idea and she just followed her brother into everything. I’m just realizing how terrible this character is, actually.

Claire’s barely even a character and I’m wondering if that’s because the writer is male and thought Hank would be the more relatable character? He’s the one that nearly loses his parents in an alley and he’s the one with the idea to become super. Claire is kind of pointless and I think that last issue of this volume was the worst one.

Anyway, the plotline with Gotham is confusing because pretty much every Batman story I’ve ever read with this type of issue is treated very differently. Batman’s not a fan of trusting people with unchecked superpowers. Even after he befriended Superman, he always had a contingency plan in place. However, I think this is part of the All-Star Batman type of Rebirth thing where he’s making changes. He’s trying to trust more people and look at other ways of helping his city. I think that’s pretty damn honorable so I’m not completely against the idea.

So, ultimately, I didn’t hate this book. I really like King’s Bruce Wayne. He’s someone I can relate to, I find him unusually compelling and I definitely want to read more about him. I enjoy Bruce’s partnership with Duke and I can’t wait to see more of them working together. Alfred was a joy, as always. My biggest problems were Gotham and Gotham Girl. I don’t like the concept of Gotham Girl as a character and I think the conclusion of that story was pretty messy.

Is this a recommend?
So, I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book. How about this:
If you are a fan of dark and gritty Batman stories where there’s a mystery and Batman has to use his wits to save the day: This is not the book for you.
If you enjoyed All-Star Batman and you’re looking for more of Bruce and Duke’s partnership: Check out the first three issues.
If you are looking for a Batman story that delves more into his childhood trauma and you want a story where Batman helps a Gothamized version of Superman and Supergirl: You have oddly specific taste and this is definitely the book for you.

3.5 stars.

 

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