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“A man. A mask. Compared to this city! Compared to this hell?! What is that?!”

Tom King’s first arc on Batman comes to an end with this week’s Batman #5. The conflict between Batman and Gotham comes to a head in epic fashion, drawing characters from all around the DC Universe to create a showdown worthy of Rebirth. Though there are some notable absences among the cast, including the series’ supposed villains, the pages bring about an emotional conclusion that serves as both an end and a beginning. Series artist David Finch continues to be a huge asset to the book. His work excels regardless of the scenario: from intimate conversations in the Batcave to city-destroying action in Gotham central. Thanks to stellar writing and art, Finch and King have begun what will surely be a storied run on arguably the greatest superhero ever created.

Gotham’s wrath spirals out of control as he completely succumbs to the manipulation of Psycho-Pirate and Dr. Strange. Pulling out all the stops, Batman does his best to stop the would-be hero. King writes a heart-wrenching narrative that reads like a legend or fairy tale with both tragedy and comedy. His Alfred continues to be a highlight, with the perfect dash of dry humor and British wit. But at the forefront is the downfall of a man and hero in the form of Gotham. The motivations behind it all are still unclear as Strange and Psycho-Pirate continue to remain absent from the series. It makes sense for the story to focus on Gotham but to leave us without even a glimpse of why he was manipulated in the first place is a little odd. It’s obvious they’re being saved for the upcoming “Monster Men” cross-over, but it still raises some questions. Regardless, the conclusion to “I Am Gotham” features enough action and emotion to more than compensate.

Batman #5

Batman may be the titular character but it’s Gotham and Gotham Girl who’ve had the biggest arc of the series so far. From their very inception, the two heroes were meant to embody the ideals Batman always hoped to instill in the citizens of Gotham. The tragedy and success of the duo is a reflection of how those ideals come to pass. The pain that creates such superheroes is not easy to endure. It can take the form of watching your parents die in an alley to being whisked away from an exploding planet in a rocket. For some, the burden of being a hero would be too much. For others it can be a truly formative experience that gives you the strength to do what you know is right, even at the expense of those you love. “I Am Gotham” puts these two through one such tragedy, and destroys one superhero while birthing another.

Finch is bringing his A-game to this title. Every panel is sharp and eye-catching, perfectly capturing the story with careful detail. The characters’ expressions are clear and lively adding to the already moving narrative. The climax is especially breathtaking. The action and sheer scale is grandiose in a fashion few artists can manage. It’s a testament to David Finch’s work ethic that he has remained the sole artist for this entire arc, joined by inkers Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, and Scott Hanna as well as colorist Jordie Bellaire. A rarity for one of the many bi-monthly Rebirth titles. Every member of the art team has upped the ante for subsequent artists to follow.

Batman #5

THE VERDICT

Tom King crafts a powerful climax to his first arc in Batman #5. Gotham and Gotham Girl took some time getting used to, but have grown into relatable characters that manage to shed light on Batman’s influence on the city he protects. As their battle comes to an eventful end the only thing lacking is motivation. Dr. Strange and Psycho-Pirate set our heroes on this path, and yet still remain absent from the story. Regardless, this does little to take away from the poetic tale of Batman and the Gothams. An emotionally gripping start to King’s reign on Batman.

Comic Book Review: Batman #5
Pros
  • Climactic Battle
  • Beautiful art
  • Emotionally Satisfying Conclusion
Cons
  • Notably Absent Villains
9.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
10.0