Comics/Graphic Novels

Batman: Rebirth #1 (2016) Comic Book Review

For those that have read any of my previous DC related articles, you may be aware that I’m a bit of a Batman fan… So with that in mind, I hardly need to divulge the level of noise and gesticulation in my vicinity, when I was told I would be reviewing his first Rebirth issue. Batman: Rebirth #1 is the first in a new wave of Batman titles and, after reading it, I can see why the Batman titles remain one of the biggest sellers within the DC franchise.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

Possibly one of the main reasons for these sales is the consistent level of writing from Scott Snyder. Snyder, over the past few years, has brought a new and strong voice to the Batman, one that will resonate well, throughout the ages. So to have a new writer poised to take over this title, may leave a few readers a little dumbfounded.

This issue sees a calibration between Snyder and Tom King, as one voice takes his leave and a new one takes hold. For those that are a little apprehensive about this changing of the guard, be assured that this new writer is highly regarded within the industry, including by his predecessor, Snyder, himself.

So, with a new writer there comes the opportunity for new talent to take centre stage and one of the main draws of this issue is the focus on the character Duke Thomas. Since his antics in the New 52, opinion soon formed that he was would be the next Robin, due to his appearance as Robin in ‘Zero Year’ (in a possible future) as well as his involvement in ‘We are Robin’. However, Snyder has frequently alluded to a new guise for this character that would, of course, make reference to some sort of feathery animal… In this issue the costume of choice is revealed as Duke follows up on Bruce’s challenge, “ I have an offer for you”… As to which one it is, well you’ll have to march down to your local nerd depository and find out!

For those that think that the only incentive to buy this issue is to surmise Duke’s new alias, think again. This issue is fast paced and full of the self-assured Batman that has been missing, from the more recent arcs in the New 52, and I mean that in more ways than one… Batman is back with new purpose, new allies and, what seems like, an old adversary, in the Calendar Man.

Julian Day, known as the Calendar Man makes an overdue return in this first issue, and seems a little removed from the character we have grown to know. He is probably most famous for his appearances in the Arkham Games, but most iconic in his advisory role in the pages of ‘The Long Halloween’ (as previously reviewed here; https://nerdgeist.com/2014/10/31/batman-the-long-halloween-a-review/ ). In the New 52 he is barely present, except for his appearance in the back pages as a reporter for ‘Channel 52’. Calendar Man is best know for his penchant to commit heinous crimes on days of note, such as Christmas or Saint Patricks Day as well as being an expert manipulator and a formidable opponent in hand-to-hand combat. This incarnation is a whole new kettle of fish. His love of the seasons and combatant skills are still evident, but there is a different ability in these pages that leave the reader with more questions as to the effects of the ‘Flashpoint’ on those that sat out most of the New 52.

In regards to the artwork, Mikel Janin, has really proven himself from the go. Like King, he has some very large shoes to fill, as the ones he is stepping into are Greg Capullos’s. However Janin has demonstrated already that he can deliver the goods with his own flair, as the drawings are just as confident and vibrant as the Batman within the narrative.

So yes, Snyder and Capullo have been a formidable collaboration over the years and have seen Batman through some of his toughest ordeals. However, after reading this issue I can rest easy that the Batman has been left in good hands. King’s voice lends strength and assurance to this Batman and, in a perfect marriage, Janin’s illustrations bring these qualities to life. In all, although Batman has seen some tough times, I am certain that this new collaboration are more than equipped to see him through whatever comes next.

Score: 8.5/10

Batman: Rebirth #1 is available to buy from today by clicking here or by visiting your local comic book retailer.

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