Written by: Tom King
Art by: David Finch & Matt Banning
In this third issue since Batman has been “reborn”, writer Tom King pumps the brakes to develop the mysterious duo of Gotham and Gotham Girl. Undoubtedly, a series can’t be expected to continue in perpetuum at a pace like that which was observed in the first two issues, so it’s not so much a disappointment that issue #3 is slower than its predecessors. Still, the issue does have some faults, namely with dialogue, that keep the new series from scoring three great issues in a row.
With the Hugo Strange reveal fully blown open now, issue #3’s decision to hardly feature him at all seemed like an odd decision. Clearly King wants to keep his plans in the dark for a bit longer, though we get plenty more clues as to what the always-scheming Strange has in store. Cleverly, the issue opens with an all-too-familiar scene featuring a dark alley, spilled pearls, and a young boy who bears witness to it all. Quickly the scene is turned on its head not once but twice, however, which helps give backstory on the still enigmatic flying heroes. There are some in-deliberate scenes of comedy in the issue that hinder the tone.
Strange’s entrance, like that in Arkham City, is always a dark harbinger as he brings the borderline ruthlessness of The Joker combined with the master plans akin to those of The Riddler. Yet what takes center stage in this issue is the back and forth between sibling heroes, marked with some cringe-inducing sequences that fail to create a mood conducive to Strange’s entrance. It seems intent to illustrate the pair’s inexperience, and it does, but it remains a stark departure from who they were just an issue ago while failing to set up the appropriate mood for what appears to be ahead. With their backstory revealed — at least, if you believe the story — it appears King wants to humanize them some more on the back-end of the issue. The intro works, especially since I at least remain skeptical of the narrative, but the closing moments don’t hit their notes.
Even with another cliffhanger, the arc noticeably takes a step back, but by no means is it a terrible issue. It just feels inconsistent with what we’ve seen so far. There’s still a lot to look forward to in weeks ahead, even if there isn’t a lot to love in Batman #3.