Love it, hate it, or anything in between, Tom King’s run on the main Batman title has concluded. While I’d like to dig into the start of James Tynion IV’s new run without drawing direct comparisons to its predecessor — that’s pretty much impossible. Between the book continuing its numbering and kicking off with Tony Daniel, Danny Miki, and Tomeu Morey, and Tynion directly picking up his own plot threads from the conclusion of City of Bane, this issue is almost designed to be compared to King’s run. That being said, the issue very much stands on its own. It’s accessible and distinctive, and it promises a bright future for the Dark Knight.
The core thrust of this book is that Batman is a different man after the events of Tom King’s run. His home was usurped from under him, a man posing as his father did everything in his power to break him, and worst of all, the man who truly was his father was taken from him. James Tynion makes it abundantly clear throughout the issue that this is a new Bruce Wayne. One who is no longer sitting on his laurels, afraid of his own ambition. One who seeks out a fight rather than lurk from the shadows. And perhaps most importantly, one who has finally decided to take Alfred’s advice to do the impossible – and create a Gotham that has no need for a Batman.
Tynion has gone on record to state that the supporting cast of this run isn’t the Bat-family. Instead, the supporting cast of this run is Batman’s massive, massive rogues gallery. This is evident right from the jump – right after an opening scene of Batman surveying the city (with gorgeous artwork by Daniel, Miki, and Morey) we get to see most of the myriad villains of the issue. Tynion and Daniel are clearly having fun working with all these various rogues, and it’s a real delight to get to see Lady Shiva and Merlyn alongside two newer characters. The villains all get to have distinct personalities and bounce off of each other, creating a really fun dynamic that I really hope stays throughout the run.
Catwoman is obviously a major character in this new run, though she’s not a villain anymore, and is a major sign of how Batman has changed. The other major support for Batman himself is Lucius Fox, who has taken Alfred’s former position as the man behind the screen, a dynamic that neither Lucius nor Bruce are wholly familiar or comfortable with. Tynion does a great job writing the awkward dialogue between them, and it’s honestly a bit painful to read – Alfred’s loss is still raw for both Batman and the readers. Daniel also does an excellent job with their body language and facial expressions while they’re talking – it’s clear they’re both uncomfortable but doing their best.
This issue is an excellent start to what is looking to be yet another standout run on the main Batman title. Tynion is giving the book a tangible forward momentum right out the gate, and Daniel brings a more classical style to the art that makes it feel familiar – something that I didn’t expect to enjoy, but works incredibly well. The character voices are fantastic, and as a successor to Tom King’s run as well as its own entity, James Tynion’s run has started off with a bang.