The world will disappoint you. On particularly heinous days it can be almost impossible to keep that disappointment from lapsing into loathing. It’s a battle for our own outlook that we wage with ourselves every time we read a headline and it’s the conflict at the heart of writer Tom King’s first arc on the newest volume of Batman (issues #1-5).
When Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo ended their run on Batman I thought there was a chance my compulsive need to analyze Batman might’ve taken an arrow to the knee, but King, and artist David Finch have crafted a fantastic, timely Batman story that won me over entirely by the end of the first issue. This is a story I’ll be wearing down the spine of when it comes out in paperback.
I Am Gotham finds Batman confronted with the prospect of two new super-powered allies, Gotham and Gotham Girl, who’ve been inspired by the Dark Knight to defend their city. It presents Batman with a question that’s been lobbied against him since his first meeting with Superman decades ago: in a world of superheroes with godlike powers what heroic relevance can one ordinary man really have? It’s a point that is beautifully illustrated in that aforementioned first issue in which nearly the entire contents of the book are dedicated to Batman figuring out how to solve a problem that takes Gotham and Gotham Girl all of a panel to solve.
But by the end of the arc King makes it clear that Batman’s power doesn’t lie in his money or gadgets or training. If Batman does have a superpower it’s his relentless belief in his city.
Batman’s disappointment in the world around him never lapses into loathing. He does not hate Gotham, he does not give up on Gotham and he never will. No matter how atrocious the headlines it produces are, Batman will never give up on his world’s potential to be better, and that requires an internal fortitude beyond flight or super strength.
Tom King’s Batman is as much a pillar of perseverance as he is a pillar or fearlessness and bravery and after the conclusion of “I Am Gotham” I couldn’t be more excited to see where he’ll take the character next.