[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Brad Walker & Andrew Hennessey
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Rob Leigh
This issue opens with a gathering of forces, as the Arkham Knights sends his followers? out on a mission, it’s not clear at first, but a real mystery begins with Jim Gordon at Gotham Park with a bunch of dead bats. He calls Batman and it turns out Bruce has the same situation in the Batcave. After a little research in the Cave, he turns to Francine Langstrom, wife of Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat.
Bruce hopes Francine can help, but she is having trouble because of a one-time exposure to the Man-Bat serum she can hear the bats in the city crying out for help. She hits herself with another dose and leads Batman on a harrowing chase through the city, finally ending at the Gotham Zoo. He finds dead bats here too, but he’s interrupted by the appearance of a bright light in the night in the skies over Gotham.
His investigation leads to his first meeting with the Arkham Knight’s followers…
The best thing about this issue is the mystery that sets the plot rolling. This allows Batman to show some of his detective skills and seek out assistance from an expert in Francine Langstrom. The Langstrom’s have been a tragic couple in the Bat-verse for many years, and her appearance adds an additional emotional element to the story. You can really feel Batman’s desire to help the Langstrom’s. It presents Batman at his most relatable. Even though Kirk currently has things under control and is assisting the Justice League in the pages of Justice League Dark, Batman wants to help Francine because of the destructive potential of the Man-Bat identity, as he has many times over the years.
It’s also nice to see Batman and Jim Gordon working together, recent issues of Batman have indicated that maybe their alliance is over. Additionally, there’s some nice witty banter between Batman and Alfred that makes the reader feel right at home and familiar with these characters. Combined, these elements lend a classic feel to the story that we know promises to be something quite different with the introduction of the Arkham Knight into comic books.
This is a pretty strong opening chapter. There are no real negatives.
This is a very accessible tale that begins a new era in Batman’s history, but it doesn’t try to do anything more than tell a solid Batman story with some effective characterization in a classic mystery with familiar and likable characters. While the arc has a long way to go, it starts off on the right foot.