Batman and Robin have always been Gotham City's protectors. The dynamic duo is the quintessential team that has long defined the hero and sidekick relationship in comics.
That's changing in Tom King and David Finch's new Batman series, which sees a new dynamic duo arrive on the Gotham City scene to steal the spotlight from Batman and his new partner Duke Thomas.
This first issue is certainly dramatic. A passenger plane is shot by a cruise missile over Gotham City, and it's up to Batman to prevent the damaged aircraft from crashing right into the heart of Gotham City and subsequently killing thousands. It's a chance for King to show off how well he understands the character of Batman, and so far, it looks like he is hitting all the right notes. King's Dark Knight is stern, calculated and every bit the genius fans know the character to be.
With some help from Duke, Batman makes some astounding calculations on the fly to boost himself onto the plane. Once there, he places a number of thrusters in various positions on the craft and begins to adjust them just right in order to dodge buildings and set the plane safely down in Gotham's bay. The only problem is that Batman needs to stay on-board (and outside) of the aircraft in order to control its descent, an act that will surely kill him when the plane collides with the water.
Bruce makes peace with himself. He's ready to die to save his city and its people, and asks Alfred if his parents would be proud. It's an emotional scene, but one that is ultimately cut short by two unexpected saviors who catch the plane and safely deliver it to the ground.
At first, Batman assumes it's Superman who has arrived to save the day, but it's then that readers are introduced to Gotham's two new heroes: the not-very-original Gotham and Gotham Girl.
Who these new heroes are is still a mystery. They can both fly and appear to have super strength. Their outfits are about as generic superhero as you can get. They both sport capes, masks and massive emblems emblazoned on their chests. Of course, because she's a girl superhero, Gotham Girl wears a tiny miniskirt, while Gotham himself is fully clothed.
The designs of the two new characters themselves are nothing special, but their role in this new Batman story line is a major one. Throughout this first issue, the idea of Batman being the hero Gotham City "deserves" is brought up. Gotham doesn't have the always-smiling Superman to protect it or the charm of Green Lantern. It has Batman, a hero as dark and dour as the city he protects. However, does it have to be that way? New heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl seem to imply that Batman isn't inherently a part of Gotham City's identity, even if Gotham City is forever tied to Batman's.
King and Finch have huge shoes to fill taking over Batman from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Thankfully, rather than attempt to emulate what came before, Batman #1 feels fresh in a way that is true to DC's recent Rebirth initiative. It's too early to tell whether or not this new era of Batman will be anywhere close to that of Snyder and Capullo's now-legendary run, but King and Finch are certainly off to a promising start.