Grizzly Graphic Novel Review: Batman – Gates of Gotham

I believe I’m one of many that very much enjoyed Dick Grayson’s tenure as the Batman. He lived, he learned, he kicked some major ass. He overcame his doubts that he could be a great Batman and I’m sure should Bruce ever need him to step up again he will take the call. That being said, The Gates of Gotham is one of the last handful of stories we will see with Grayson as the Dark Knight and it’s a little bittersweet, but they brought us one hell of a story with this one. 

I’m really becoming a fan of Bat-comics where they alternate between the story in the present time and one from times past. I’m not so much a fan that I want them to wear the whole thing out, but it really works for some of the stories. More recently it was used in the Penguin: Pain and Prejudice series. In Gates of Gotham it is used to present us with a bit of Gotham’s past that none of us were ever aware, least of all Dick and the rest of the bat-gang.

Basically,Gotham was financed and brought to prominence by the wealthiest families of power and influence: The Waynes, the Cobblepots, and the Elliots. Together they tasked two brilliant architect/engineers, the Anders, with turning Gotham into the most modern and fast growing cities in the country. The Anders take great joy in this job, but eventually things begin to turn sour and the problem presented in modern-day Gotham somehow links back to this era inGotham’s history during the late 1800’s.

Enter present day Gotham and the start of the story: Someone is blowing things up in Gotham with semtex explosives. And they’re not just blowing up petty stuff, they’re going after landmarks such as the Gotham City Trigates among others that you’ll be treated to in the trade paperback. “The Families Will Fall by the Gates of Gotham” is the only inkling Batman and Commissioner Gordon have to go on. Thus starts a race against time investigation before any more lives are lost to the mysterious bomber. Along the way Batman will unravel the mystery ofGotham’s past and a couple of his rogues gallery as well. Since the families involve the Elliots and the Cobblepots, expect to see both Hush and Penguin popping up in the trade. Hush was my favorite of the two in this storyline, though his presence was brief it gives you an indication of how utterly twisted Tommy Elliot is as the villain Hush and his undying hatred for Bruce Wayne. His fixation on him being the only one to kill Bruce Wayne is akin to Joker’s insistence that no one can kill “his” Batman except for him.

As I said before, the story was very well done. The whole trade had a very gritty, noir feel to it and the art was melded perfectly with that. Not only do I enjoy seeing Dick Grayson as the Batman, but I love it when several members of the Bat Family work together to run down a case. This one in particular had the quartet of Dick, Red Robin, the ever annoying (But likeable!) Damien Wayne and a surprise visit from Cassandra Cain back briefly from her Batman Inc. duties overseas as Black Bat. The interactions between Damien and Cassandra were amusing, as Damien always tries to berate someone over how his father wouldn’t approve of them and how he is going to be the heir of Batman. Eventually Red Robin gives Damien a sobering statement pointing out that his father only recently started giving a rat’s ass about him. It was all great banter that made the book flow as it reached a great reveal to the climax.

*Minor Spoilers Below*

I have always enjoyed seeing new and twisted villains that Batman can square off against, such as Professor Pyg, and I’ve heard that the DC Comics New 52 is doing just that with some of their newer villains. The villain in this story, ‘The Architect” was pretty awesome I thought. His suit reminded me of Mr. Freeze’s in a way and the fact that the pressurization slowly kills the person wearing it and makes them delusional was both cool and a little disturbing. There’s no telling if the Architect will show up in Batman’s future anytime soon but I’d be welcome to a return anytime. Overall I give the trade a 5 out of 5 grizzlies. The art, the story and the characters were all masterfully done in this Bat installment. I urge any Batman fan to give a whirl.

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