BATMAN #4 [Review]

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BATMAN #4/ Written by TOM KING/ Pencils by DAVID FINCH/ Inks by SANDRA HOPE & MATT BANNING/ Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE /Letters by JOHN WORKMAN/ Published by DC COMICS

Since DC Universe Rebirth #1 launched this new era, Batman has been quite busy and distracted from solving the mystery of what has happened across the whole world. Tom King launched readers right into a super-powered conspiracy plot with Batman #1, setting the stage for what to expect while he pens the new tales of Gotham.

So far, King has shown off his knack for explosive Bat-action, while also introducing and exploring new threads little-by-little to this big mess Bruce Wayne finds himself in. The arrival of Superman-level heroes  –  Gotham and Gotham Girl – have hinted at how little control Batman may actually have in his city. While it’s been fairly smooth sailing between the three protectors of Gotham City, what would happen if Batman’s new allies were to lose control of themselves?

With all the power in the world but none of the experience required to use it, Gotham and Gotham Girl find themselves as pawns in a game played by Hugo Strange and his accomplice, Psycho Pirate. Batman discovers a a building filled with 27 dead soldiers and Gotham Girl muttering, “I’m scared,” to herself over and over again. Her brother, Gotham, finds himself unsuccessfully defusing a suicide bomber situation, leading to the shocking death of those soldiers; demonstrating the siblings’ goodwill and luck have both run out. With the help of Duke Thompson, Batman uncovers a failed attempt by Amanda Waller to fix Gotham City.

After betraying Waller and her plan, Hugo Strange uses Psycho Pirate to mess with the heads of Batman’s Gotham allies – fanning the flames Waller had set out to extinguish. As things fall apart, Gotham Girl begins to go insane as Gotham discovers their parents were murdered by the sole surviving soldier of the suicide bombing, the very same man who also blames the siblings for what happened. The trauma flips a switch in the broken hero and he turns on Batman before setting his fiery sites on the city of Gotham itself. What will Batman do to stop a hellbent being of Superman’s strength without the weakness of Kryptonite to exploit?

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Writer Tom King masterfully scripts out the “too good to be true” turning point of the self-proclaimed protectors of Gotham City. It was only a matter of time before things got ugly, but there is no predictability to the story. King manages to shock readers as they turn from one page to the next, and every dramatic progression is well crafted. This series so far has managed to throw readers into a continuous storm of activity without becoming overbearing or repetitive. There’s also a wonderful trait to the series where King manages to show a human side to Batman on a page and transition smoothly to a “because he’s Batman” moment on the very next, subtlety showcasing King’s deep appreciation and acknowledgment of what makes Batman the hero he is.

With all the great Bat-Family books hitting the shelves after the Rebirth launch, this has been the most consistent take on the new Bat-suit and the man within it. It’s no easy task to learn that new design and have fun with it throughout every issue. I’m sure it’s also no easy task to take Tom King’s action-packed scripts and successfully illustrate the carnage, but David Finch, Sandra Hope, and Jordie Bellaire do it masterfully. The shocking deaths and scenes of destruction strike an extra nerve just by how beautiful they look. As the dramatic scope of the story continues to get larger, the art is right there with it to grab readers and drag them along as Batman uncovers the horror approaching Gotham City. With the city itself being a major element in this story arc, it comes alive in every panel whether it be from a light or dark perspective.

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Tom King and company have really got a good thing going with their fresh take on Batman and the city he protects. Readers will find themselves completely immersed in the harsh realities of Gotham City, as Batman finds himself racing towards a problem he certainly doesn’t already have a solution for in his utility belt. While Detective Comics has been focused more on the other members of the Bat-Family, fans will have a steady bi-monthly Batman book focused on the caped crusader from here on out.

Rating 4

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