Batman: Li’l Gotham started out as a year-long Digital First series that would have one chapter a month devoted to whatever holiday was on the horizon. It featured vibrant water-colors, comedy that appealed to all ages, references to classic Batman stories from comics, film, and television (with emphasis on Batman: The Animated Series), and it wasn’t afraid to get sentimental from time to time either. Naturally, Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs’ creation became so popular that DC commissioned 2 stories a month and that ultimately added up to 24 lighthearted stories taking place in the darkest city in comics.

Content

Batman: Li’l Gotham collects the first dozen digital chapters or the first 6 printed issues, depending on how you look at it. Each chapter stands on its own as a fun one-shot adventure that anyone familiar with the mythology can pick up and enjoy whether the last time you read a comic was last year or last decade. Think of it as “Batman: The Children’s Holiday Specials.” You’ll want to pluck Li’l Gotham from your shelf every time there’s a festive event no matter how big or small (come to think of it, DC/WB should consider turning this into their next direct to Blu-Ray feature, it wouldn’t kill them to release an animated film that would be suitable for a 5 year old. There’s a whole generation of potential comic book fans growing up in a world of cartoon movies that their parents won’t let them watch and that’s sad). Volume 1 starts with the most widely celebrated holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but  after its creators started churning out two books a month the comic gained greater variety with the likes of Lunar New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Father’s Day, etc. etc. I have detailed reviews of each of the individual stories at the links below:

Don’t shrug this book off like “It’s just for kids.” It’s not. It certainly isn’t afraid to get silly, but Nguyen and Fridolfs treat these characters and the world of Gotham with a great deal of care and that passion for all things Batman shines through. Batman: Li’l Gotham is a love letter to the characters of Gotham and the mythology you care about so deeply that you came to a site called “Batman New” in the first place. It just so happens to be told in a way that can be shared with the comic book fans of tomorrow. There’s enough dark and disturbing stuff happening in all your other Batman comics. In fact, it was one year ago last week that Death of the Family concluded, that’s 1 full year in which the Batfamily hasn’t gotten along! Take a break from all the despair and check out Li’l Gotham where these heroes have a chance to relax for a change.

Bonus Material

There is a cover gallery that includes the variant cover by Chris Burnham, but that’s it. These covers would’ve been better used as chapter-breaks rather than supplemental material for the back of the book.

Value: FULL PRICE!

$12.99 for all of this? It’s absolutely worth full price and it’s $2 bucks cheaper than traditional New 52 TPBs so maybe that’ll sway a few of you who think the series is too childish. I’m sure you can get it at Amazon or other places for even cheaper, but this is a book that I think you could spend top dollar on and still walk away satisfied. It’s immensely re-readable for fans of all ages. I suggest getting a copy for yourself and then an extra to gift to your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew.

Overall

This is a book that should put a smile on the face of every Bat-fan. The watercolors are beautiful, there are plenty of funny moments that kids and adults can enjoy, and the whole thing is packed to the brim with great Easter eggs and references to elements of the Batman mythology that hardcore fans will cheer over. Are you a fan of Damian Wayne? He’s alive and well and essentially the main character of this series. Yes, there are a couple short stories in this collection that are definitely stronger than others, but overall this is a fantastic addition to your comic collection.

SCORE: 8.5/10