I’m kind of in awe at the level of perfection this issue actually displays. Admittedly, it’s very sparse in the action category, but that’s ok with me. What it lacks in heart-pumping-adrenaline, it’s more than made up for with a copious amount of exceptionally well executed character developmental scenes. More so than beating up muggers and using fancy Bat-gadgets, this is what the Batman comics have always been about to me. The characters! It’s about getting them right and showing them interact with one another in a realistic manner. If you were hoping beyond hope that Rebirth would deliver more than just superficial character recognition, then you’ll be happy to know that your prayers were indeed answered.
As the story opens, we are greeted with a complete “what the hell is going on?” moment. It’s straight up bewildering until you hit the explanation. However, once I got that, I went back right away and reread the first 4 pages so I could fully appreciate what was going on. It’s really quite an opening because of how much it draws your undivided attention.
I really hope that is one-way glass.
The characters in this issue are, quite simply put, portrayed to perfection. Tim was definitely my standout favorite. In the New52, Tim was often shown as a cocky show-off who liked to brag about his superiority. Which is far from the way that Tim was portrayed pre New52. I always saw him as an extremely competent, but equally humble individual. And this story shows that. For example: we are introduced to the team’s new base of operations situated on the top floor of a skyscraper in the heart of Gotham. (Think Batman’s Batcave mixed with Oracle’s Watchtower. And it’s called the Belfry. How cool is that!) Tim built the place, and it is clearly awesome, but as he introduces us to it, I never got the sense that he was showing it off. Everything he said was more matter of fact. If you chose to see it as awesome, that was your call, but he never defines it as such. And that is key. Also, for those of you who were concerned that Tim might be portrayed as less of a leader and fighter than he rightly should be, rest assured, this story should completely waylay those apprehensions.
The dialogue is also fantastic. Whether a character was delivering an extensive discourse or only spoke a few lines, it seemed to me that everything they uttered was carefully orchestrated so as not to squander a single syllable without affording the reader some insight into the character’s psyches or the world around them. I also liked how the dialogue in this issue did double duty. When one character was talking about another, not only did we get insight into the character being discussed, but insight into the characters conversing. Their point of view about their teammates informed us about who they were as a person as well as how they saw the world. It was simply a joy to read.
I love that both Batman and Detective Comics are adhering to a predetermined design for the Batmobile, obviously inspired by the Batmobile from Batman: The Animated Series. It just a small visual cue that helps establish a link and shared continuity between the books.
Art for this issue is once again handled by Eddy Barrows. And if I didn’t make myself clear from the last review, I think this guy’s work is simply brilliant! Page after page after page, I’m simply left astonished by his skill. Shot selection, page layout, angles. It’s all beautiful. He also did this really cool thing that wasn’t in his first issue. On three separate occasions, when a scene was ending and transitioning into a new one, he did a kind of fade out. Where the visuals became less defined/sharp. I thought it was a wonderful choice that added a nice cinematic flare to the book.
There was only one visual element I didn’t care for. If you look at the images below, you will see two shots of the Batmobile. In both, we are looking at the residual light left over from the tail-light/exhaust as the vehicle makes a sharp turn. If you’ve ever seen the movie Akira, you know what I am talking about (Akira motorcycle chase). In any case, the first shot looks exactly the way you’d expect it to look. But when I flipped the page and saw the second one, for half a second, I was wondering why the Batmobile was sporting colored streamers. Since they had the ability to create the first effect, it then left me wondering why they didn’t just use it both times.
- If the next issue opens with a battle weary Batman standing amidst a sea of crumpled and unconscious bodies, I’ll officially lose my mind.
- Is it possible that these Batmen are actually Ra’s Al Ghul’s? If you saw my review for last issue, I brought up the fact that there was an older Ra’s story where he formed an army of Batmen, but it was in an Elseworld story. Could it be that they are taking that concept and integrating it into continuity? What evidence do I have to go on? In the last two weeks, I realized that the ears on the Batmen masks bear a striking resemblance to the ears on Ra’s Al Ghul’s Jackal mask. Not only that, but the forehead symbol has a very vague visual similarity to that of Ra’s Demon Head symbol. Granted, all that is purely circumstantial, but I thought it would be fun to speculate on.
- I liked the fact that even thought the bad guy’s Batmobiles are bigger, the real Batmobile was still able to plow right through them.
- Does anyone else think it’s a bad idea to teach Clayface how to be better at beating people up? I have a feeling that’s going to come around and bite them in the butt down the road.
- So, Jean-Paul Valley is being treated in an old run-down abandoned Cathedral. Batman and Red Robin go to visit him. They enter by smashing through a boarded up window. Why? Like seriously….why? They aren’t entering some hostile environment where they need the element of surprise or something. It would be like if you were going over to check on a sick relative and kicked in the front door upon arrival. It was just a little weird.
- I was a little sad that we didn’t get to see Tim and Stephanie’s relationship blossom. But, I can always plug in my previous reading material and extrapolate my feelings from that experience.
- I’m so happy to see Tim and Batman hanging out together again. Seriously. You have no idea.
- Batman#436 (1989) is the first appearance of Tim Drake. He shows up in a flashback where it is established that he was at the circus the night Dick Grayson lost his parents. Prior to the show, Tim even got his picture taken with the Flying Graysons.
- In Batman and Robin Eternal #4, Tim’s parent’s home address is also shown to be 436. So, now it’s not just a reference for readers, but a reference for Tim too.
- No doubt about it. The back end of these vehicles look just like the tail end of the Tumbler Batmobile from the Nolan trilogy. Considering that these belong to the bad guys in this comic, it further reminded me of how Bane commandeered several Tumblers for use in his nefarious schemes.
- These variant covers by Rafael Albuquerque are simply phenomenal! They completely capture the style and tone of the Tec covers from a decade ago. You could easily sneak this one into a lineup with other covers from that era, and only hardcore Batman fans would be able to single it out as the outlier.
- You want to read a story built on the backbone of great character work.
- You’re a fan of Eddy Barrows’ artwork. (Don’t even try and tell me this doesn’t look good.)
- You want to read a story full of naturally flowing completely intrinsic dialogue.
I thought 934 was a really good issue, but this one….it’s even better! The art, dialogue, and characters are all so on-point it would literally take me thousands upon thousands of words to describe just how perfect all this was for me. And at that point, it’s probably easier and less time consuming for you to just read the issue for yourself. Trust me, this is some top quality stuff right here. It’s almost bewildering to me how good it is.
SCORE: 9.5 / 10