DC Comics’ relaunch of their superhero titles under the Rebirth banner started yesterday, so I thought today, I would look at Batman: Rebirth #1.
I picked up the variant cover by Howard Porter at my local comic shop. I have been a fan of his since his work with Grant Morrison on JLA. The standard cover by interior artist Michael Janin has been all over the internet and solicits for a while now. With the process by which comics are advertised and solicited now, I’m typically seeing a comic 3 times before it comes out. Especially like something with the Rebirth event, you’ll see a cover for months and multiple times before it’s released. By the time the actual issue comes out, I can be tired of seeing it already. Such was the case here. As a bonus, I really like Porter’s work and have wanted him to have a run on Batman for a long time.
The new trade dress for the books is interesting. Before this Wednesday, I had only seen the new DC logo and numbering on books with the Rebirth banner at the top. The other books DC released also had the new logo and number and price within a circle on them. This gives the line a retro feel that compliments the already retro looking new logo.
While this is a less cluttered look than in the past, right now I find it very distracting. Without the Rebirth banner to tie it together, it really stands out on the other covers. For me, it takes attention away from the title on the cover. Now, I’m sure that’s looking through the eyes of someone who has been buying these books for 28 years. Over time, this look will be normal to me and I probably won’t even notice it. Changing the color of the backgrounds will probably be helpful also. Stark white against a colorful comic cover is always going to grab your attention.
On the inside of the issue, Duke Thomas from We Are Robin arrives at Wayne Manor and is greeted by Alfred. Then the page turns to a 2 page spread of Batman fighting the Calendar Man. The panel structure on these pages is reminiscent of J.H. Williams’ run of Batwoman.
It is here we are given the credits. This issue was co-written by Scott Snyder & Tom King. As with the Green Lantern book, I am assuming this is the previous writer handing off to the new. As stated above, Michael Janin is the artist with June Chung on colors. I know they’ve listed it for a while now, but I still like seeing the creator credit as Bob Kane with Bill Finger. I feel that credit is absolutely appropriate and happy for the books to acknowledge something everyone’s known for decades.
Calendar Man’s plot is to release dangerous spores into the air and is of course, thwarted by Batman. Turn to Bruce Wayne meeting with Lucius Fox. Bruce is doing one-armed pull ups on he helipad atop his building. It’s a neat reveal, but how does someone not take note of millionaire Bruce Wayne pulling stunts like this? A helicopter could fly by and sneak pictures of him. This is the kind of thing you would assume Bruce Wayne would try not to do in public to keep his cover as Batman.
Later, in the Batcave, Batman is informing Duke about Calendar Man and the abilities this new version of the character possesses. Now, Julian Day’s body ages with the seasons and he molts his skin off. As the reader is told later, he is reborn with a new body with new DNA, but retains his memories. Somehow, this new body is pre-tattooed with the roman numerals around his head.
Batman talks to Duke about his new role and gives him a new “Bat” costume. They then go on an underwater mission to stop Calendar Man where Duke is running support for Batman in his new uniform. However, his name in this guise is not yet revealed.
At the end, Bruce and Duke are training on the grounds of Wayne Manor. Alfred drops an avocado into a hole and it tumbles underground into a swirl of bats below.
Time seems to skip around a little during the course of the story. Even with headers that list a season corresponding to a day of the week, I’m not sure if the story proceeds in chronological order. I’ve only read it once, but for only being a 20 page story, a reader shouldn’t be so confused. The sequence at the beginning with Calendar Man, where he is defeated, appears to be the climax with the younger version from the end of the issue. Whether this is supposed to be a Tarantino-style tale or read like Memento, I should be able to tell either way. More “landmarks” throughout the story would have been helpful.
At the end of the issue there is a blurb that says “next: Batman #1.” Does the Calendar Man story continue in that issue or is this it? Are they just advertising the new Batman series. There is another box promoting Sndyer’s All-Star Batman #1, so it could be. I guess I’ll find out when I pick up Batman #1 in a couple weeks. Either way, starting your new title with a “marquee” villain like the Calendar Man is an odd choice.
I’m going to end this post with some Howard Porter drawings of Batman, because I’m never going to get what I want and because I can.