Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gates of Gotham Reviewed

Gates of Gotham #1
- John J

Scott Snyder has been on a hot streak lately. Detective Comics is arguably back to prestige form after the lull David Hine's run created, and American Vampire has been Vertigo's marquis book on a consistent basis. It seems the man can really do no wrong in the darker corners of the DCU Universe. So I'll admit, when I saw the initial preview for "Gates of Gotham" and read the premise, I was ten types of worried.

The premise isn't anything really new. After a 3 page set-up of Gotham before it became an industrial powerhouse, we see the three figureheads of the city meeting to discuss the architecture that would put Gotham on the map. Only one of the three men is specifically stated; Alan Wayne. From there, we're back to modern day Gotham where Grayson Batman, Red Robin, and the rest of the cast and crew (Cassandra Cain EEEEEEE) are dealing with the fallout of said bridges being blown to bits.

I've kind of had my fill of "The House of Wayne" and the development of Gotham in recent books. After Grant Morrison's take during Batman & Robin that now probably sits as canon for the Batman mythos, it's difficult to swallow more of the same. Luckily "Gates of Gotham" isn't heavy on back story, although it isn't short on set-up. After the incredibly well-plotted bridge destruction sequences there's a lot of talking heads, which if it wasn't for the expert plotting of Scott Snyder and affectionate scripting by newcomer Kyle Higgins, could easily turn into a "skim read". A sequence in which Batman interrogates Penguin could have been removed entirely, and I somewhat believe was put in there just so that Higgins could play in the sandbox a bit.

Trevor McCarthy supplies the art, and I'm mixed. McCarthy's line work is jagged and overly-stylized, but purposefully so. He's a good balance of early Scott McDaniel work and a more abstract expressionistic style. This works brilliantly for action sequences, such as Batman removing the doors from all the cars on the bridge in one felt swoop. Again, the less vibrant sequences, not so much.

While the ending brings back a character that most fans will grumble at, it also introduces a new villain (who McCarthy styles towards a steampunk theme) that's yet to be listed. With "Gates of Gotham" running the same length as Flashpoint (5 issues), there's the possibility that this story has long-lasting effects in the Batverse. Until that happens, however, it's a serviceable story with yet to be determined motives.

And it's got Cassandra Cain (EEEEEEEEEEEEE)!

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