He is Gotham City’s greatest protector. A Caped Crusader. A Dark Knight Detective. He is Batman!
He is, however, but one man. A man who possesses a fortune and the best training and tools that fortune could buy, but still a mortal man who will die someday. It is a fact that Bruce Wayne is all too aware of. While he has made his peace with this fact and has built up an impressive team of heirs apparent who have taken his crusade up as their own and will doubtlessly protect his city when he is gone, Batman still hoped for something better to offer his city and his allies.
Enter Gotham and Gotham Girl—two metahumans with the powers of Superman and the idealism to match. More, they aren’t just willing to seek out Batman as a teacher and trainer. They insist upon working under his supervision, saying they want to learn his methods so they can be the best heroes Gotham City can possibly have.
Batman has never allowed himself to hope for much but the thought of two such heroes who can fight by his side and learn from his example brightens even Bruce Wayne’s dour spirits. But what will happen when an evil capable of warping the minds and souls of those it encounters turns Batman’s latest pupils into a threat that could destroy Gotham City once and for all?
Batman: I am Gotham is a different kind of Batman story and not just for its inclusion of powered superheroes in Gotham City. Both fatalistic and yet inspiring, Tom King takes us into the mind of Bruce Wayne in a way that few other writers have even attempted, much less managed. While many writers have presumed that Bruce Wayne is insane to wage his war on crime in the way that he does, King paints a portrait of Batman who is well aware of his limits but sees no other way to live other than in defiance of them.
Spirited as the tale of Gotham and Gotham Girl is, the high point of the issue comes in its final chapter. It is here that Bruce Wayne, not Batman, imparts his most important lesson to his would-be successor. We also learn, in a wonderful character beat for Batman, that he sometimes speaks to his mother as if she were there—a technique many people use to cope with loss which many therapists encourage as a way of dealing with grief.
David Finch illustrates I Am Gotham with all the skill and eye for detail his fans have come to expect. While Finch handles the quieter, more psychological scenes that King excels at writing with aplomb, his best work comes in the opening chapter during an action sequence that even the greatest of today’s special-effects wizards would be hard-pressed to bring to life on the big-screen. It involves Batman attempting to prevent a plane from crashing and any further description beyond that is pointless. It must be seen to be believed.
This volume is rated 12+ for audiences 12 and up. I would, however, suggest that this volume is more appropriately aimed at older teens. This is not because of any indecent material—there is no violence, nudity or sexual innuendo inappropriate for younger teens. The story, however, is unusually complex and deals with some philosophical issues I fear most teens under 15 are ill-equipped to handle.
Batman, vol. 1: I am Gotham
by Tom King
Art by David Finch
DC Comics, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 12+