Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Throwback Review: Batman Rebirth #1 (2016) Review

Trying Something a Little Different

Written by: Scott Snyder and Tom King
Art by: Mikel Janin, June Chung and Deron Bennett
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: June 1, 2016

Coming out of Rebirth, our site is going through some changes as well.  While not a full out reboot, we are remembering the past and trying to bring the fun back.  Sound familiar?  That new attitude is carrying over to our reviews or at least the books each of us reviews.  I am back on Batman and while Eric’s Batman #44 Review would say different, this was one of the best books of the New 52.  Because of that, I'm sure that some would argue that a “Rebirth” really isn't needed here.  The whole “don't fix what ain't broke” argument.  Well, that's hypothetical now because Rebirth is underway and Batman is leading the charge.  So, is this Rebirth issue good, bad or something else?  Let's find out…

The issue opens with a gardening Alfred Pennyworth and a visiting Duke Thomas.  It seems that Duke is  up for the “offer” he's been given.  One page in and I've already got visions of Batman and Robin dancing through my head!  However, we soon learn that not everything stays the same even as it all sort of does.  Luckily, this issue isn't as confusing as that last sentence.

As the reader turns the page, they are smacked in the face by some kick ass, Mikel Janin awesomeness!  Fans of Grayson will just nod their heads in acknowledgement, but those unfamiliar with his work are in for a real treat. I don't know what I like more, the actual art or the panel layout. Okay, it's a tie...I love it all!

It also doesn't hurt that we get a crazy fight between Batman and Calendar Man. Yep, Julian Day is in the house and after years of some pretty predictable villains, it's nice to see one of the quirkiest show up here. However, things were a little off for me here. While I don't mind a re-imagining of any character as long as it makes enough sense and tells a great story, this version of Calendar Man just made me think of Mr. Bloom. I didn't come into Rebirth wanting any sort of reminder of Mr. Bloom!

The issue continues with Lucius Fox informing Bruce that he's got his company and riches back. Now we are talking! Batman may still have 99 problems, but lack of funds is no longer one. Of course there is the whole 'mo money, mo problems" issue, but I'm sure the Notorious B.R.U.C.E will be able to handle it. This scene was a nice character moment between two old friends that may force the "calendar" reference, but also pokes fun at all the times Bruce has lost his money only to get it back.

Speaking of Calendars, we next learn that this Mr. Day is not your grandfather's Calendar Man. I'm sure some of you have heard the idea of life as the four seasons (not the Four Seasons, mind you), well Julian hasn't just heard of it...he lives it. Not only that, but the process is speeding up and it's affecting Gotham as well. It's an interesting idea but this scene is all about seeing Bruce and Duke working the case together. That's right, Duke is in the Batcave with Batman! I'm getting visions again!

Those visions were squashed very quickly, but replaced with something possibly better...Batman wants to try something new. Damn well he should! After everything that has gone down including the death of Damian and the recent Batman and Robin Eternal, it just wouldn't make sense for Batman to just forget it all and go right back to the well. I really want to know what this "new" thing is, but we only get a look at Duke's cool costume for now.

The issue ends with Batman pushing himself to the limit to stop Calendar Man's plan, but we are left thinking it is only the beginning.  From what we find out, we should be calling him Julian (Dooms)Day.  It's a twist that really puts him in a more dangerous light on a previously ridiculous villain.  It also really nails down the whole "nothing ever ends" idea of Rebirth in a way that feels threatening and natural for this book.

Like the main Rebirth special, this issue is more of  a tone setter than anything else.  We get Duke and while Batman is trying "something new", it still has that Batman and Robin vibe which I love and want back bad.  The only real issue I had was DC's decision to have Scott Snyder co-write the issue. Why?  I want a true Rebirth and with Snyder involved, I'm not sure what was Tom King and what was Scott Snyder...and a lot felt like Snyder.  Depending on what side of the fence you've been sitting on, that could mean the exact opposite to you than it does to me.  Still, I liked what we got and can't wait to see what King does when his actual run starts in a couple of weeks.

I mentioned it above and I will again...Mikel Janin's art kicks ass!  It is so good and every page is a pleasure to look at.  He gets to play around with some pretty big panels that make the issue fly by and his old Calendar Man may give me nightmares.  He reminded me of the old guy in Metallica's Enter Sandman video and that guy still freaks me out!

Bits and Pieces:

This issue gives Batman fans a quick look at what to expect in Rebirth and the tone is more Batman and Robin and less Dark Knight.  However, It all felt more like a sneak peak than an actual full issue, but the art was great and the story had enough interesting bits to keep me fully engaged.  I do wish that DC would have let Tom King work solo on this one so we know exactly what we'll get from his run because some of it felt a lot like the book we left behind.  I liked this issue, but I guess I'll have to wait for the actual run to start to be blown away. I hope that I am blown away!



  1. I felt the exact same way about Snyder. I don't want him on this book. Tom King is capable of delivering the same great writing that he brought to the table with Grayson. It was a fast read, but a good start in the right direction.

  2. So any idea what Duke is going to be?

    1. i said it to Fall...I think Batman will treat Duke as more of an equal than what he did with the Robins and after all that's happened, be more open and honest.

  3. So I'll say it, I've been a Snyder fan since his Black Mirror run with Grayson-Batman back before the New 52. His newer stuff isn't necessarily of the same quality, but the man knows how to spin a story. That said, this is Tom King's book; the pacing , the design, and all the story telling nuances scream KING, and I loved it.
    For me , its a win win because Tom King became my favorite creator with his Grayson run.
    (Actually, is that a pattern? Writers who kick ass on a Dick Grayson book end up running the Batman scene?)

    In any case, the update on Julian Day was inspired, and I'm sure the horror aspect and villain retro-fit was all Snyder, but once again that was just gravy on what I assume was King's over all plot. And Janin's art just slays it EVERY time!

    If this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things, I'm all for it.

    My only concern though is how many Robins and "Not" Robins we have roaming around. It's somewhat ridiculous. We have: Nightwing, Red Hood, Red Robin, Actual Robin, Not-Robin(Duke), Blue-Bird, Orphan, BatWoman, Bat Girl, Bat Wing and Spoiler. It just feels a bit excessive.
    I only bring it up because I like Duke's arc, and him becoming a Robin would have been an awesome fit, if Damian hadn't returned from the dead... but, y'know, he did. So we already have a Robin, so now we also get this "Something new" right on the heels of Spoiler, Orphan and Blue bird? I don't know, I guess I'll have to see how it plays out.

    Looks like a fun ride though!

    1. I really just think the "something new" is full disclosure/be your own hero type of thing coming out of his death and what happened in Batman and Robin Eternal. I think that we will see Batman treat Duke as more of an equal than a "sidekick".

    2. I really thought this felt like more of a Scott Snyder story than Tom King's...one of the other reasons I think that is just the nature of the issue itself...it's pretty much a one-shot with Tom King's "I am Gotham" story starting in issue #1. Unless Snyder had his hands in it a lot, why have him at all? I liked it, I just want to see a total 100% Tom King book...which we will get soon!

  4. wow Mikel Janin killing it there on bat cave splash. glad to see he's been elevated to the very biggest leagues.

    1. this is it for him for the most part, though...David Finch is doing the book going forward.

  5. Something about this book just didn't quite sit right with me and I'm hoping that it was just Scott Snyder's writing because recently his writing on Batman has become a chore to read so hopefully when Tom King takes over in 2 weeks with the number one it'll be better
    Also you know Duke isn't going to be called Rob and just because DC doesn't want to change Damien's name from Robin to something else Duke is essentially robin 2.0 right now

    1. there is that, but I think that they are also worried about fans crying bullshit if he just picks yet another Robin. I actually like the idea that Duke is going from being a "Robin" on his own and now something different.

  6. Here's something I've been wondering for years. It's said here that Duke was staying with Bruce until his parents could be cured. Um, I assume they're referring to the events of Batman: Endgame when the whole city was Jokerized but they came up with an antidote so what happened? Did they cure everyone else but run out of antidote right before they got to Dukes parents? 🤔

    1. There's an antidote, but some people's minds, like the Thomas' never recovered from the trauma and they're pretty much locked away, out of their minds to this day.