Remember Calendar Man? He's not exactly one of Batman's most memorable (or menacing) villains, but the character obsessed with dates and seasons takes center stage in Batman: Rebirth #1, with some crazy new powers to boot.
For starters, Calendar Man now ages with the seasons. In the spring, a time of rebirth, he appears young. In the winter, he becomes an old, dying man. As spring approaches once again, Calendar Man is shown to shed his previous skin, emerging as a new, young version of himself complete with different DNA.
As Batman in this issue struggles to combat a Calendar Man that is speeding up Gotham's seasonal cycle, it serves as a fitting parallel between Batman's own cyclical nature. For the past 50 issues of Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered a new, powerful take on the Caped Crusader. Now their run has come to an end, and Batman will once again be reborn under a new creative team in the form of Tom King and David Finch. Snyder will be writing All-Star Batman in August, but the core Batman comic will no longer be in his hands.
This issue is a bit of a passing of the torch then. Both King and Snyder get writing credits here, as the path is paved for new adventures of the Caped Crusader. It looks like we won't be seeing the end of Calendar Man, and Batman is getting a new sidekick in the form of Duke Thomas, who previously appeared in issues of Snyder's Batman and the We Are Robin series.
It's important to note that Thomas isn't becoming Robin as many fans might have assumed. Instead, he's becoming something ... else. What exactly the character's role is isn't clearly defined, but he is seen this issue wearing a yellow suit adorned with the Batman logo. It looks like he may be less a sidekick and more a partner. All Batman will say on the matter for now is that he's "trying something new."
Aside from Calendar Man's bizarre new powerset, Batman Rebirth #1 is relatively tame. There's no massive revelations or shocks, as seen in DC's Rebirth event comic. It is, however, a stylish way to hand the reigns over to a new creative team. The issue's talk of rebirth and the cyclical nature of Calendar Man himself serves as perfect allegory for both DC's event and the always-changing nature of comics in general.
During one of the issue's training scenes, Bruce and Duke discuss how to combat a Calendar Man that is reborn better and smarter than before with the passing of the seasons. Duke asks how exactly they are supposed to fight somebody who is always improving. "Easy," Bruce replies. "We come back better each time, too."
It ultimately remains to be seen if King and Finch's new take on Batman will prove superior to what came before, but we're definitely interested to see what's next for Gotham's Caped Crusader. In that regard, Batman Rebirth #1 is a success.