Every now and then the review piece that I have is easily considered to be from leftfield, and this week is exactly that. Li’l Gotham is a brand new comic aimed very much at an incredibly young audience. It’s one of the first comics that I have seen in a while that carries an E rating for Everyone, which is a change from the increasingly adult content in comics.
Dustin Nguyen is the writer on the issue alongside Derek Fridolfs, who have both worked before on the previous Batman Li’l Gotham shorts that appeared in the back of DC's Batman Annuals in 2009. It's surprising to me that the concept has been revived after a period of about four years.
The issue contains two stories for the reader. The first revolves around Halloween, with Batman trying to teach Robin (still Damian) the meaning behind the annual festive evening. It’s also a chance for both of them to try and find the childhoods that never were. Through the crowds and being forced to Trick or Treat properly, Robin can almost taste the spoils before Batman decided a meal is in order. By luck this is the one place in Gotham where all of his adversaries are eating on that fateful evening...
Now normally the Dark Knight would swoop into dynamic action, but instead he buys them dinner (the restaurant seems to accept his word for his credit) and calls the cops. A very family friendly way to deal justice out which seems consummate with the audience.
The second tale is much in the same vein, but taking on the American holiday of Thanksgiving. This time the story revolves around the Penguin menacing the Gotham City parade with his marching army of turkeys. Once again the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder save the day in a very placid way, leaving poor old Oswald heading for jail. Whether it is Blackgate or Arkham you’re not sure as when he is there it’s all smiles and happy faces around a dinner for themselves too.
In both stories the artwork, also by Nguyen, is not his normal. Obviously the characters are all portrayed in a very childlike manner with Damian, ironically, not changing much at all. On the whole every character is easily recognisable from cover to close.
The style of the artwork is similar to a very soft version of the baby covers we are seeing from Skottie Young on the Marvel Now variant covers, yet more like a water colour. The emphasis is very much towards having easily viewed and enjoyed stories with plenty of smiling faces and very little negative emotions coming through.
This is very clearly designed to be an easy read comic and looks like it is trying to be a vehicle to introduce very young children to comics. That said the language usage is not the equivalent to the artwork in this sense which does create a certain difference within the issue.
Personally, I found this a very hard issue to read and review as it didn’t strike a chord with me. It was far too cutesy and soft as a story and to look at so didn’t hit home with me, but if I had young children that I wanted to share my love of comics with - or wanted to give them something new to look at - then this would be the ideal comic to pick up.
Matt Puddy is not really a miserable old cynic, he just sounds like one in this article!