Recently, we have seen a massive change in the Batman titles that DC have been putting on our shelves. From the re-energised Detective Comics to the brand new Batman Incorporated. All of the titles have embraced the recent changes in roster and attitude since the Return of Bruce Wayne, so do we need another title? Even if it is just a five part mini-series?
Batman: Gates of Gotham certainly poses this question.
Written by a collaboration of Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins, this arc veers away from the current norm. It retains all of the now familiar cast but with a focus quite clearly on the past - a very interesting take on Gotham. Opening in the 1880s we meet the founders of Gotham, including none other than Alan Wayne.
The story jumps back to a more familiar time showcasing the new Batman crew in all of its youth, also including some of the very new faces from Batman Inc. It’s certainly trying to bridge the clash between old and new in this respect, especially when you consider that villains such as Penguin are brought under the scrutiny of the Bat, only to reveal more of the history behind Gotham.
As a first issue it has a lot of turns already and is posing a really interesting story. Gotham as we all know it had to come from somewhere - and here it is, complete with its founding fathers. Now, as we’ve seen already all is not what it seems and I feel that Snyder and Higgins have more up their sleeves.
My uncertainty comes from the presentation of such an intriguing story though. If anything it has really frustrated me. There are pages and frames where I simply don’t like the artwork at all. In some instances it is very cartoon like, as if a storyboard for Batman rather than a comic. In others you’re presented with caricatures of those involved. Yet another change is given when you see the 7th page, which is a distance shot of Gotham full of gothic overtone and details. The final frame itself is yet another different style too. I really don’t understand why Trevor McCarthy has done this as it is a real shame. The lack of continuity ruins things for me. The cover is a prime example of this. You have a multitude of layers within one image, but look at it again and how many styles can you actually see?
As I said I am really struggling with this title. You have a brilliant and well thought out story with the scripting and dialogue to match only to be brought down by how it looks. They say that when you dine the first bite of the meal is made with the eyes and that it is this first bite sets up the success or failure of the meal. Well this is also the case for comics. If it weren’t for the strength of the story I wouldn’t be in favour for it at all - so thank you Higgins and Snyder, you’ve saved a story for me.
Matt Puddy is comprised of many styles, but he makes it work.