Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Batman '89 #1 Review


It Feels Smaller Than The Movie, But It's Not Bad

Written By: Sam Hamm
Art By: Joe Quinones
Colors By: Leonardo Ito
Letters By: Clayton Cowles
Cover Art By: Joe Quinones
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 10, 2021

Batman '89 #1 takes readers back to Tim Burton's version of Gotham City for a continuation of the classic films. When the leaderless Joker Goons continue their crime spree across Gotham, D.A. Harvey Dent makes a hard push to rid Gotham of criminals AND vigilantes... starting with a campaign to get rid of Commissioner Jim Gordon.

Was It Good?

It's not bad. When I thought about reviewing this book, it made sense to look at the finished product on two fronts:

1. How familiar or relatable is this cinematic sequel to a Batman story?

2. How does it look in comparison to Burton's version from the film?

Addressing the second question first, the art hits the mark in capturing the look of the individual characters but the look of Gotham is very plain. Part of what made the films feel special is the Gothic style of the buildings, the statues, and even the street lamps. In this comic, they got the costumes and actors right, but with a few exceptions, pulled back on the '89 aesthetic of Gotham.

As for the first question, yes, this book feels like a standard Batman story using Burton's version of the characters. Crime is on the rise in Gotham. Batman walks a fine line between stopping criminals and being considered a criminal himself by the police. And Dent is a force for change, albeit potentially leading down the wrong path.

All the piece parts are there, so the story works as an alternate version of Dent's eventual downfall. We even get a soft introduction to the future Robin, which was much discussed in casting circles when Burton was considering a third film.

The one point that doesn't work is Dent's overly aggressive play to oust Gordon as commissioner for being a vigilante sympathizer. It comes across as heavy-handed and forced. That may be intentional to justify whatever happens to Dent in this version that causes him to become Two-Face. It's too early to tell, but it feels off in this first issue.

The second point, which may be a down point depending on your point of view, is how small this story feels. Rather than a movie sequel, the story is scaled down so much that it makes more it comes off like a TV series rather than a movie sequel. That's not necessarily bad, again depending on your point of view, but this story fails to capture the scale and scope of the films.

Bits and Pieces

Batman '89 #1 is a promising start to the continuation of Burton's version of the Batman legend. The characters look and sound great, and the plot works. However, the design of Gotham lacks the Burton flare, and the motivation behind Dent's actions feels forced.


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