Written by Tom King
Art by David Finch, Matt Banning, Danny Miki and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by John Workman
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
“The Monster Men are coming...aren’t they strange?”
Things are starting to get weird in Batman #2. After a hit-and-miss debut, writer Tom King course-corrects with a solid issue of groundwork, punctuated with great character moments that finally give us a sense of who his Batman is, all while teasing hints toward the baddies that are poised to assault Gotham City. This second issue also holds the distinction of being some of David Finch’s best work in recent memory, thanks to a new degree of focus from the penciler, heavy inks from Matt Banning and Danny Miki, and gorgeous colors from Jordie Bellaire. Though it started on shaky ground, Batman #2 bounces back with a visually exciting and engaging second installment.
Opening with a titanic scrap in the shadow of Gotham’s statue of Justice, Batman #2 begins by shining a light on Gotham’s newest caped crusaders and what they are capable of as they lay the smack down on Solomon Grundy. King is still playing it coy with the identity of Gotham and Gotham Girl, but by opening this issue with a big display of their powers as well as stacking them against veteran crimefighter Batman, he is opening his script up to some much-needed character development. After the scrap with Grundy, Batman is already off to the next thing, but Gotham can’t let it go. Tom King gives audiences a quick look under Gotham’s cowl to reveal a man not only eager to join in Batman’s crusade, but one who is hungry to learn how to approach it properly. Less great however is the continued ignoring of Gotham Girl, who is still left a cypher this issue while the men are still given priority treatment.
That gripe aside, King contrasts Gotham’s willingness to learn with Bruce’s realization that while he’s just one man, the new super pair can be much more for the city. This newfound self-awareness finally arms the title with a characterization that audiences can connect with. Moving beyond the character work on display, King also fills this second issue with grim hints as to the incoming Monster Men and a cliffhanger return for a fan-favorite Bat-villain, reminding readers that there is still a larger game being played just outside of Batman and the Gothams’ field of vision. While the first issue had its flaws, Batman #2 shows that its creative team is willing to work for reader’s attention.
Which brings us to the art team. David Finch’s recent output hasn’t wowed like it did in his early days, but Batman #2 is some of his most focused work to date. The opening set piece is a prime example of the art team’s prowess as Finch keeps the action hard-hitting and clear, even playing a bit with perspective with the panels of Grundy trying to make his escape. Displayed in a three-panel grid, Grundy is sprinting toward the foreground with Gotham in pursuit, but unbeknownst to the both of them, Batman is slowly slinking up from a manhole, masked in wispy white steam, culminating in a bone-crunching splash page of Bats using Grundy’s momentum against him to put him down. If you had any doubts during his Wonder Woman run, you can rest easy — Finch has still got it.
With focused artwork and scripting throughout, Batman #2 finally puts the flagship Bat-title on solid ground. Tom King and his art team have caught their second window, and finally have a compelling Batman as well as a looming threat, giving the title a palpable dread along with their solid characterizations.