Zechs digs into Batman: the Gates of Gotham!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Pencils by: Trevor McCarthy, Dustin Nguyen, and Derec Donovan
Colors by: Guy Major
Someone has just blown up three bridges in Gotham City and has promised more horrors to come. It's a job that one vigilante can't handle alone, requiring Batman (Dick Grayson), Robin (Damian Wayne), Red Robin (Tim Drake), and the Black Bat (Cassandra Cain) all working together. They're attempts to thwart the fiend behind it all called the Architect opens up a vast history of Gotham City that was, up to this point unknown. The main characters along with the reader will learn how the Gates of Gotham were born.
With so many heroic characters running around, I assume some readers will wonder if they all get a fair share in the overall story. I'd say yes, everyone gets their one or two moments to shine, but really the story centers on three characters: Dick in his last hurrah as Batman, Cassandra's reintroduction into the Bat Family (oh wait I'm sorry DC decided to ignore the character again the moment after this ended), and the Architect's tragic history that has ties to Scott Snyder's Court of Owls storyline going on in Batman. Everyone else more or less helps them or steals a scene or two.
What works so well with this story is the balance of past and present stories, until we reach a point where everything is revealed. The climax is fully laid out with the scope of what the Architect's true scheme is. Another is; just the large scope of what Scott Snyder has in mind for his run in the Batman Universe that all started back with his Detective Comics. For those who have read that, and currently reading his Batman, I suggest you pick this up as well since this really is the book that opens up the tapestry of Gotham City's history that he's exploring. However, this book is also equally Kyle Higgins' show as well. For those who have been reading his current stuff on Nightwing, this mini is his warm-up run with the character.
The real showcase, besides the writing of Snyder and Higgins, is the art of Trevor McCarthy. His Gotham City is just a rusty, weary, beauty to behold. There are several points in the story were McCarthy just hits all the right notes and you as the reader get why this story has to involve four vigilantes to stop it.
The downside to all of this; is that this mini got screwed by the DC relaunch royally. For example, this was originally meant to be a six issue mini-series, but an issue was dropped due to the event. Yes, the story moves at a hectic pace, but I'm curious to know just what story ideas were dropped. In actuality, I think DC should have just let this mini continue on during the relaunch and it would be better off because of it. Due to this, the Architect in the end does feel like a one-shot villain and his final fight with Dick feels rushed just so we can get an ending that sets up the new status quo for everyone involved.
Another angle that suffers besides the writing is the art as well. The book shipped two issues in one month and as such one entire issue is drawn by several artists while regular artist Trevor McCarthy went on to close out the tale. That one tiny point might distract some, but for myself by that point I was so thick into the story I only cared what was going to happen next.
Now, one thing that took me by surprise was that the solicitations for this trade on Amazon said there were supposed to be two more issues to be added; a two-part story that happened in the annuals of Batman and Detective Comics. They have been dropped for some reason, though they have no association with Gates. In their place is a solo story involving Batman Inc. member; Nightrunner. The tale is written by Kyle Higgins and drawn by Trevor McCarthy, both of whom worked on the main story. Again, it has no connection at all with the main story other than showcasing another member of Batman Inc. It's a fun story, and is a nice bonus showcasing the massive world of Batman Inc.
Overall, Batman: Gates of Gotham is a fantastic story that delivers a really involving the inner circle of the Bat Family. It's really a two punch knockout with engaging writing and an engrossing art that really draws you in. The only problem with it is the fact DC itself rushed this one out too quickly. Still, with the fifteen dollar price tag alone, the tale this tells is worth it. I'm still surprised this story didn't show up on many fans' radars. Now with this trade, I hope people really appreciate the fine story telling that this book gave us.
4 out of 5
Review by: Zechs