As a lifelong Marvel fan, I’d pick up the occasional DC trade, but never a single issue – until the New 52 came along. I, like many others, I assume, took a chance on several of the publisher’s relaunched series. Unfortunately, I slowly grew disenchanted when it became apparent the initiative wasn’t as well thought out as something as important as a line-wide revamp should have been.
The one series I did continue to read in single issues was Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, for obvious reasons (aka, they crushed it). Having read the promising DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and being a fan of co-writer Tom King’s stellar Vision series for Marvel, I was definitely going to give Batman: Rebirth #1 a shot.
But enough about me! Right now the only question on your mind is, is it good?
Batman: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
Overall, this one-shot allows Snyder to pass the Batman baton to King (before Snyder launches All-Star Batman in August). Similar to DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this comic exists to set up the new status quo, introduce fresh concepts but also reassure traditionalists that everything will be alright (more on that in a bit).
Batman: Rebirth #1 picks up where Snyder’s run left off–we’ve got a rejuvenated Bruce in his new, more colorful Bat-suit, dedicated to being a better caped crusader. And then there’s Duke Thomas, of We Are Robin fame, who’s ready to take Bruce up on his offer to help in his war on crime.
Facing off against Batman is a creepy new take on Calendar Man, the villain best known for his appearance in Batman: The Long Halloween. How creepy, you ask? Apparently, Calendar Man dies each winter and is born again in the spring, shedding the skin from his previous life. Literal rebirth, get it?
Overall, it’s a solid Batman adventure that accomplishes what it sets out to do, beautifully rendered by artist Mikel Janin (King’s Grayson collaborator). Although Janin’s more realistic pencils are a bit of a shift from Capullo’s more animated style, they fit well with this story. The opening splash page is especially attractive, and should appeal to any fan of J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman work. I also enjoyed Janin’s take on the Batcave, which will leave you asking, “How the heck did Bruce build this place?”
Now, I promised I’d circle back on that comment I made about putting traditionalists at ease. This, in my opinion, is both a pro and con of the Rebirth initiative. Did DC lose its way with the New 52? Yes, without a doubt. Did that mean there wasn’t some good work in there by top comic book talent? Of course not!
It’s nice to see Jim Gordon out of the armor and back in his trench coat and Bruce in charge of his company again, but why not leave Alfred one-handed? And while I can appreciate Batman’s need to retire the Robin concept, it would have been cool to see Duke officially become the first African-American Robin, considering Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian all pretty much look exactly alike.
I think overall, my biggest complaint with Batman: Rebirth #1 is that I finished reading it in like five minutes. Which, I guess, means I wanted the experience to last longer. Which, ultimately, means I’ll be back for Batman #1 by King and artist David Finch on June 15.