Comic Book Review: ‘Batman: Gates of Gotham’ 1

Batman: Gates of Gotham hit the shelves of comic stores everywhere today, delivering the first of five issues to make up the miniseries. Gates of Gotham brings together writers Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins and features the artwork of Trevor McCarthy. This impressive team brings us a storyline that has its roots coming out of Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, particularly issue #6 where Cassandra Cain began tracking explosives that eventually found their way to Gotham in the first issue of this series.

The story begins with the bombing and subsequent destruction of three bridges in Gotham City that follow with a cryptic warning to the press that “the families will fall by the Gates of Gotham.” The fact that each one of these bridges was named after a prominent family (the Cobblepots, the Elliots, and the Waynes) leads us to believe that some deep dark secrets of said families are about to come out of the closet. The first couple of pages set that idea up nicely as we’re treated to a meeting held in 1881with Bruce Wayne’s great-great-grandfather to discuss the construction of these bridges. Personally, I loved this intro because of the time period being illustrated and it brought back that nostalgic vibe I felt when I read Gotham by Gaslight for the first time.

The first issue is clearly setting up the questions for the next four books to answer so the pace is relatively slow. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise for anyone starting a new series that has a well-developed storyline. I feel that pacing here is key. There is, however, a great action sequence that’s wonderfully illustrated by McCarthy of Batman’s response to the bridge explosions and the rescue attempts made. After being treated to a few pages of this type of action, I was fine having a slower pace for the rest of the issue.

McCarthy’s artwork has grown on me a little bit more with this book. His character work stands out in this issue and he manages to effectively energize the panels, regardless of the action taking place. I particularly enjoyed the work he did to illustrate a meeting between Batman and the Penguin. His drawings of Gotham City are very well done in the few panels in which it’s visible. The buildings come off as dark and rustic and lend to the mood as the backdrop for the story. These illustrations are even more important to pay attention to as the city itself can be seen as a prominent character in Gates of Gotham.

What excites me about his storyline is that we’re going to get new insights and backstory on the history of Gotham City. Snyder and Higgins both have a liberty here to create a new way for us to view how Gotham came to be and how it may have shaped the destinies of the characters in the Bat-universe. I hope they wield this liberty wisely because knowing that there are only 4 more issues to tell this story, I’m anxiously awaiting to see where it goes.