Yes, there are SPOILERS!
1. Nice start with an interesting, new, or at least uncommon, take on Batman. We’ve seen driven, angry, obsessed, grim, mysterious, etc., Batman for decades now. This is almost Batman as crisis manager. He stays cool at all times and we get to see his thought process without a contrived and distracting internal monologue.
2. Tom King has a sly sense of humor and it came out a number of times in the issue. Even the big set piece, with Batman steering the falling plane from its roof, was patently absurd. But it was just the right kind of absurd that makes for entertaining comics.
3. He also answered the eternal question of why, when disaster strikes in Gotham, Batman doesn’t just try to call the Justice League. Turns out he does. They just don’t always pick up.
4. But he doesn’t lose his cool when they don’t. He just gets to work. And that’s what makes him Batman. And it’s what made the passenger’s “Who’ll catch us?” rant so knowingly funny.
5. Hey, who’s the kid on the plane?
6. Here’s the thing, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately: I generally believe that the Batman Family is too big. Too many Robins, too many sidekicks, too many derivatives. But King is onto something by making Batman a master delegator. This isn’t a new idea per se, but there was something in the way this story played out that articulated how Batman’s extended network could be put to better use from a storytelling standpoint. Because even if it’s cool that he’s a lone avenger, it really makes sense that he would have operatives at the ready.
7. I liked seeing the Batsignal in the clouds below the plane coming in. Because, of course.
8. The longer I read comics, the less I like overly rendered art. David Finch is really good at what he does but my tastes lean more toward cleaner styles. No harm, no foul, y’know? That said, I really thought he and inker Matt Banning struck a nice balance in this issue. And I really liked Jordie Bellaire’s warm colors.
9. Gotham and Gotham Girl are straight out of Batman’s early Silver Age. How many times have you seen covers with a variation of “Oh, no, I’m being replaced?!” or “Gotham’s New Protectors!” It’s such an endearingly stupid conceit.
10. Batman on the Couch: We all know what drives Batman. I’ve felt this for a long time but since it came up again, I’ll mention it: Writers should not be so quick to go to the Thomas and Martha well. I know the idea was that Batman thought he might die — which rang hollow, I gotta say — but he should be self-possessed enough at this point in his career to know that his parents would have been proud of him. More importantly, I think the impact of his parents’ death would be greater if it were used more judiciously as a story device.
11. Maybe Commissioner Gordon and Batman will set up some kind of phone system after this. A special hotline maybe. Even an untraceable red phone — red cell phone? — that lights up and can’t be mistaken for anything else. Seems like I’ve seen that somewhere.
12. Hey, I only have to wait two weeks for the next chapter!
13. No movement on the Joker front. (Click here for more on that.)