Written by: Tom King
Art by: David Finch & Matt Banning
King and company are already back with Batman thanks to Rebirth’s commitment to semi-monthly schedules for DC’s biggest brands. It doesn’t get much bigger than Batman, and it doesn’t get much better than their second issue, proving Snyder and Capullo have handed off the hero to a team that, so far, looks just as capable as they were at understanding the Bat and bringing him to life. Only time will tell if they can keep up the excellent work, but they’ve been on an upward trajectory for the first month and a half.
An uneasy alliance has formed. Gotham and Gotham Girl, the confusingly named, superpower-imbued masked vigilantes claim to want only Gotham’s safety — the city this time. (This is going to get confusing.) They seem like picturesque good guys, square-jawed, flowing locks. They’re cookie-cutter examples of what a superhero might look like. Their appearances play with readers’ notions of exactly that, too. They just look so trustworthy, and show signs only of cementing that trust. So, naturally, Batman is suspicious. They saved him from imminent death that even his own calculations and on-the-fly contingency plans couldn’t find a way out of. They’re open to his constructive criticism. They show proper restraint. If you know the Bat, you know he isn’t truly letting down his guard, however, even if he is sometimes awestruck by their presence.
The dialogue is exceptional, and really the highlight of an issue that isn’t light on developments, either. With just a touch of well placed humor in an otherwise mystery-laden issue, King is pacing the story nearly perfectly thus far. Gordon’s workaholism is on display in a very well written scene, and it’s always interesting to see one of the only pure figures in the city tire himself out trying to keep his head above the waters of a perpetually sinking Gotham. Similarly, King reminds us that it’s Bruce Wayne, not the Dark Knight, that is the mask our hero truly dons.
Batman is a hero with exceptional and cherished history, more so than maybe any other superhero in comics, I’d argue. One of the best aspects of Scott Snyder’s work was his familiarity with and respect for that history. King is again, like in the premiere issue, proving he’s fluent in speaking Batman, too. Simply put, it’s a joy to read. This issue is the best of the three so far, counting the one-shot. Batman historians may have already figured out who the villain is going to be for this first arc, but if you missed the subtle clue in the last issue, the conclusion of issue #2 leaves no room for doubt and plenty of room for feverish anticipation.