“The Gift” Part 1
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Tony Daniel
Writer Tom King switches the story structure with an off-kilter time travel tale starring Booster Gold.
Once again, King shakes up Bat-fans’ expectations in multiple ways. On the eve of Batman and Catwoman’s wedding, readers get dropped into the middle of an apocalyptic future. It is disorienting and unexpected to have such a science-fiction related story in Batman. Going in, fans are treated to a Booster Gold adventure where the Bat-universe is turned upside down. The various Robins are separated. The Penguin is the president of America. Jokers are a citywide epidemic. Superheroes are committing suicide in public.
Things seem pretty dire, but since it’s more or less a Booster Gold story, the tone is more madcap than Mad Max. King uses this issue as an opportunity to stretch his comedy writing skills into dark humor territory. Jason Todd’s tire company commercial is particularly hilarious in a messed up way. The exchanges between Booster and Skeet are also fun and witty. With a lesser writer, the jokes would be sufficient for storytelling purposes. But King uses the humor to reveal character. Booster’s blase reaction to the horrors of an alternate timeline is darkly humorous. What’s more, it gives an interesting insight into Booster’s jaded attitude and just how routine all of this craziness is to him.
The cliffhanger ending showcases how subversive and surprising King can be. Without giving too much away, he builds up expectations by utilizing standard dark-alternate-reality tropes. However, he then twists them in an unexpected direction, leaving the readers on the edge of their seats.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of Tony Daniel’s art. It’s not bad, but he doesn’t always display the technical skills or firm grasp on human anatomy that would elevate his craft. However, his sleek, yet gritty style looks great in this issue. More importantly, he demonstrates that he can draw facial expressions well. There are a couple of scenes in the story that are a montage of Booster’s reactions. You can read all of the emotions on Booster’s mercurial mind without dialogue.
King and Daniel have created another strange, but thoroughly entertaining Batman story. It’s a fun romp that is both odd and shocking.