Batman: Gates of Gotham #1

Batman Gates of Gotham 1

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Scott Snyder’s an author I’ve been hearing great things about for the past year or so. All my Stephen King-loving comic-booky friends rave about Snyder’s Vertigo series American Vampire, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about his run with artist Jock on Detective Comics. Neither Stephen King nor Jock is especially to my taste, preventing me from partaking in those projects. However, when I read that Snyder and Kyle Higgins would be co-writing a Batman series with Trevor McCarthy, I knew I was sold. The fact that the series involves elements of Gotham’s seedy past explored in stories like Return of Bruce Wayne? Even better.

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 delivers as much enjoyment as I was hoping, even if it wasn’t totally what I expected. From the solicitations I’d believed that GoG would be set primarily in the past. However, other than a three-page prologue this book takes place squarely in the present. As the story opens, a mysterious antagonist destroys three of Gotham City’s bridges and delivers to the press a promise that “the families will fall by the gates of Gotham.” It turns out those gates (referring to the bridges themselves, but possibly to other objects as well) were originally named after important families in Gotham: the Cobblepots, the Elliots and even the Waynes. So begins the mystery which drives Gates of Gotham — who has key figures of Gotham’s past in their sites? Who are “the families,” and how are they connected?

Gates of Gotham sets up an incredibly compelling scenario in its first installment. Snyder and Higgins provide a serious noir-y detective story that promises to uncover some dirt in Gotham’s past. That’s an excavation in which I take real interest; I’ll gladly welcome any series that can expound on some of the figures recently employed in Return of Bruce Wayne. In particular, Gates of Gotham #1 gives some more backstory to Alan Wayne, who played a major role in RoBW #4 (though here he’s significantly older). Though I understand the writers’ decision to set GoG mostly in the present and I really enjoyed this issue, I do hope for more flashback scenes in the future; they’re written very well and show a lot of promise (it’s almost like what Jonathan Hickman did over in S.H.I.E.L.D. for any Marvel fans, though a little less cosmic).

Pre-Gates of Gotham I wasn’t too familiar with Trevor McCarthy’s art. I definitely like what I see. McCarthy’s style is really kinetic, which makes the action scenes pop (for instance, when Dick Grayson tries to save Gotham citizens from a falling bridge). McCarthy also nails a few really creepy moments, like the bridge destruction aftermath and a grotesque interpretation of the Penguin. I also want to call attention to colorist Guy Major, who knows just how to make this book look ugly, creepy or mysterious when it needs to.

Though I was excited to read the book, I still had some trepidation about Gates of Gotham going in; three relatively unfamiliar (to me) talents telling a backwards-looking story certainly isn’t always a sure thing in comics. After an issue, Snyder, Higgins and McCarthy have me hooked. I think it’s too early to call, but anyone have any bets on the mystery villain?

tags: batman, gates of gotham, kyle higgins, scott snyder, trevor mccarthy

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