“The Next Batman”, “Outsiders”, “Rise”
Writers: John Ridley, Brandon Thomas & Paul Jenkins
Artists: Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar & Jack Herbert
Color Artists: Tamra Bonvillain, Jordie Bellaire & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterers: Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands & Rob Leigh
Minor Spoilers Ahead!
Review by Eric Lee
The Next Batman #1 offers a fascinating, if slightly underdeveloped window into future Gotham’s authoritarian state.
Since the issue is divided up into three separate stories, I’ve reviewed them individually.
The Next Batman
This is easily the most intriguing of the three stories in The Next Batman #1, and the most important one. The biggest downside is that it reveals surprisingly little. It doesn’t spend much time showing the intricacies of the police state that Gotham has become. Even more unusual, it doesn’t reveal hardly anything about the new Batman.
The story feel surprisingly brief, considering that this is a 60 page comic, and the ending is very abrupt. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, since we’ll be getting at least three more issues of The Next Batman, for me it’s more of a pacing concern.
The world-building is slow, but there are still a lot of good moments. First off, there are the dynamics of the Fox family, and we’re also treated to how lower-level street crime is affected by Gotham’s new authoritarian regime. Writer John Ridley also seeds a few subplots that are sure to blossom in future issues.
Nick Derington provides the best art of the issue. His cartoony, but realistic style is extremely appealing, and moody. This story has the most intrigue in it and makes me anticipate the next issue.
The title itself is a clever story point. While this does feature a few members of the Outsiders, the focus is primarily on Katana. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear what her motives and goals are in this issue. On top of that, her new costume design is extremely silly. She has so much armor on, how’s that beneficial for somebody who relies on speed and agility?
Despite a fairly un-engaging plot, this story has two things going for it. The cliffhanger ending promises an interesting future issue. Furthermore, Sumit Kumar’s art is a lot of fun, and it particularly shines in the action scenes where Katana’s performing gymnastic flips, and tricks. Probably the most visually fun part of the entire comic is the double page splash with Katana taking down a building of bad guys.
Still, for me this is probably least interesting story of the issue.
The final tale features the Arkham Knight and her gang of fellow Batman villains. They have made themselves into a shockingly effective resistance force against the Magistrates who rule Gotham.
While it is a cool premise with decent character scenes, the main character is not super interesting. I do not know if that’s because I’m not familiar with the Arkham Knight character, but she just doesn’t speak to me. However, I do like all the other villains and what their reactions are to their situation.
I’m also happy to see more random characters than the main baddies we always see. Readers are treated to Humpty Dumpty, Anarky, and shockingly a lot of Dr. Phosphorus.
While Jack Herbert’s art looks technically good, it suffers from being overly detailed. This makes some of the character poses stiff and lifeless. It definitely lacks the visual energy of Kumar or Derington.
All in all The Next Batman #1 was a decent first issue, and it did leave me interested in finding out more.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment