Now comes the end of one of my favorite Bat-titles, Batman: Li’l Gotham and I believe that Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, its creators, gave it a wonderful send-off. Once again, the print issue features two stories in one. The first is a simple tale that’s just played for laughs, but the second and final episode is one I think every Bat-fan will adore as it offers a nostalgic look back on the characters that make up the Batman mythology.

Sandwich Day

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Rather than re-do Thanksgiving, November’s holiday-themed installment made use of “Sandwich Day” (November 3rd, in case you’re wondering) and the quasi-villain known as The Condiment King. Despite not actually being a true villain when he was originally created for Batman: The Animated Series (he was a brainwashed comedian who only thought he was a villain for one brief scene), fans and creators alike have been so enamored by the whimsical character that he made an appearance in comics like Batgirl Year One, Robin, Birds of Prey, and other titles, always as a joke. So I suggest you make a game out of it and prior to reading this book, make a guess as to how many pages it will take before encountering a pun on the word “ketchup” (you know it’s coming) and if you’re right then reward yourself in some little way.

The story does indeed touch upon Thanksgiving as Damian is in search of his missing turkey Jerry (from last year’s Thanksgiving issue). Damian fears that someone has taken the bird for their holiday feast and so his father accompanies him on a search through Gotham that ultimately leads to the pun-happy Condiment King. With such a colorful villain in the cast, the comic definitely takes on a Batman ’66 quality that I think many will enjoy, but when you get right down to it the short-story really is the same Condiment King joke we’ve seen a dozen times before. Still, kids should get a kick out of it for sure and the art is as lovely as always.

Spoiler

I didn’t much care for the non sequitur ending with caged Gothamites and a villain called “The Zookeeper” showing up. Especially since it’s all not touched on in the following chapter. Basically it showed that Batman & Robin’s adventures never end and it gave us an excuse for a striking visual which Condiment King did lack. Let’s face it, while it’s still cute and well illustrated we aren’t going to see anything with that much wow-factor when the story centers around a burger joint and the Condiment King.

Our Family Album

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While I do enjoy the goofier tales from Li’l Gotham, it’s the more sentimental ones that really stick with me and the love of the mythology really shines through in “Our Family Album.” It’s Christmas time and Damian wants nothing more than to be out on the streets fighting crime with his dad (or opening his Christmas presents), but after hot-wiring all the Batmobile’s the Boy Wonder has been placed under house-arrest. To pass the time, he and “Pennyworth” take a walk down memory lane as Alfred opens a photo album that not only gives young readers a great rundown of who many of the major Batman characters are, but instills a heartwarming message about how anyone can be considered family when you open your heart and show some compassion. Dustin Nguyen’s paint brush is at its best here as we see panel after panel of important Bat-moments, some of which are displayed in vibrant color while others take on a faded monochromatic tone to show just how far back in the Batman’s journey those events now are. I was very sad when I reached the final page of this touching and all-around adorable series.

Recommended If…

  • You’re looking to buy a comic for a kid or just the kid inside you
  • Dustin Nguyen’s water colors always mesmerize
  • Damian Wayne is a character you miss– this will be the last you see of him for a while
  • Food puns or puns of any sort make you laugh
  • You’ve ever wanted to see Batman say “It’s peanut butter jelly time”
  • You’re ready to be moved as Alfred lovingly reflects on how the Bat-family came to be

Overall

The first story in this final issue is a familiar but funny short that should be good for a few quick laughs and the very last episode titled “Our Family Album” was a remarkable way to end one of the most entertaining Bat-titles in recent years. It’s a solid issue and one worth picking up whether you’re a long-time fan of Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs’ work or, surprisingly, if you’re just hearing about Li’l Gotham for the first time.

SCORE: 8/10