Batman is DC Comics’ most important commodity. In film, his presence alone garners hundreds of millions of dollars. In comics, the Caped Crusader’s storylines—from The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke to the The Long Halloween and Death of the Family—have become that of comic legend. So, with DC embarking on its newest Rebirth initiative, it was imperative that co-writers of Batman Rebirth #1, Scott Snyder and Tom King, bring the Dark Knight into this new reimagining with something fresh and inventive.
Batman Rebirth #1 opens with Batman getting into fisticuffs with one of his lower-tier villains: the Calendar Man. The story begins with Batman dismantling Calendar Man’s plan of releasing toxic spores into Gotham. The action is hard-hitting, intense, dramatic and fun way of starting things out. Pitting Batman against Calendar Man isn’t such a bad idea either. Many other writers may have tackled a bigger named baddie like Two-Face or The Penguin for Batman to tussle with. By going the direction of Calendar Man, the comic’s focus can remain on the interworking of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne.
In Batman Rebirth #1, Snyder and King utilize Calendar Man in an inventive way, and he becomes a metaphor for DC’s new initiative. As Batman describes his adversary to his new sidekick, Duke Thomas, Calendar Man dies in the winter only to be reborn over and over again—a man rekindled and back in his prime. This is very clever and fresh; a nod to what DC is trying to do with all of their DC properties, not just Batman. As Calendar Man keeps coming back, reinventing himself, so too has DC Comics.
As mentioned above, Batman has a new cast member assisting him in thwarting crime. According to the Caped Crusader himself, Duke Thomas won’t necessarily be a Robin-like character, although he does have a recognizable yellow in his costume. It’s not yet known what Batman writers have in store for Thomas, but he’s definitely starting out as an assistant. It’s too early to make a decision on whether Thomas is an interesting addition to the Batman storyline or just an add-on that may disappoint. Time will tell on that one.
So, in the end, did Snyder and King renew Batman enough to warrant audience interest in reading his now bi-weekly tales?
The answer is yes. Now Batman Rebirth #1 will not knock your socks off, but it does offer an interesting beginning not only for Batman but Duke as well. The comic also features some gorgeous panels by artist Mikel Janin. Janin’s artwork is well crafted and is at its best within the splash pages. From the opening shot of Batman leaping toward a gun wielding Calendar Man to a two-page spread of the Batcave, Janin adds a power and ferocity to the comic that might not have come across as well if drawn by a different artist.
As far as introductions go, Batman Rebirth #1 does a good job in offering audiences an action packed adventure intertwined with setting everything in place for Batman to go forward in DC’s newest reincarnation.