“Gargoyle of Gotham” – Book One
Writer/Artist: Rafael Grampa
Color Artist: Matheus Lopes
Letterer: John Workman
Review by Eric Lee
Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 is a heavily atmospheric comic that seems to waffle between being a standard Batman adventure and a hyper-stylized gritty noir.
Surprisingly Pedestrian at Times
The early press for Gargoyle of Gotham promised an uncompromising look at Batman who has given up on the Bruce Wayne identity. Because of that promise, the first issue is mildly disappointing. As the issue opens, Batman has not given up on the Bruce Wayne identity but is merely considering it.
Typically, this is not a problem, but the tone of the comic implies an Elseworld take on Batman, which means that I want to see how this version of Batman without the aid of Bruce Wayne differs from the mainstream Batman. But since Batman has not gone down that road yet, it feels like a standard adventure that could be slotted between two story arcs of the main comic.
A Dark and Disturbing World
This is strange because there are sequences that succeed wildly in creating an immersive dark, scary world from the mind of writer/ artist Rafael Grampa. The opening sequence is a dizzying kaleidoscope of breathtaking and creepy action and insanely dark foreboding settings. Grampa made the perfect set-up to make Batman feel creepy and disturbing- not a small task for a character who has been around for over 80 years. His visuals and the accompanying narration make Batman a force of nature.
Additionally, the main villain- who is still unnamed- looks downright terrifying. Yes, he is a serial killer- which is not a unique thing in Gotham City- but he seems to be much more disturbing. The shadowy teases, the cryptic lines of dialogue, and the unusual MO for murder make him a potentially memorable villain.
Grampa is the master of controlling mood here. He really takes advantage of the extra storytelling space by methodically pacing his scenes to deliver maximum drama. His style is also much more refined than in Golden Child. He blends realistically rendered settings and backgrounds with unconventional character designs. This creates an unsettling feeling throughout the book, which he exploits to great effect.
While Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 does not quite live up to its premise, the art and opening sequence more than make it a worthwhile read for people who are looking for a dread-filled take on the Dark Knight. Here’s hoping that issue 2 will fully embrace the premise of Batman abandoning Bruce Wayne.
The issue is also available in the “DC Noir” format, in black & white. This version highlights Grampa’s unique, quirky art style.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment