Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 Review


Writer: Rafael Grampa
Artist: Rafael Grampa
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 12, 2023
Cover Price: $6.99

There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book since it was announced.  While I do like Rafael Grampa's art enough, it is far from my favorite.  Plus, he hasn't really done a ton of interior art over the past decade, so what gives?  Well, maybe his Batman Gargoyle of Gotham will give me more of a clue.  Is it worth the hype?  Let's find out...

I already mentioned that Rafael Grampa hasn't done a lot of interior art, but the last thing he did at DC Comics was art for Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1 (Branden's Review Here), and while the book was not great overall, Grampa's art did fit the Dark Knight Universe.  Maybe he thought he would ride that vibe here because Gargoyle of Gotham feels a lot like the Dark Knight Returns, and that has its advantages but also its disadvantages as well.

One of the "advantages" is that Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 is a violent book.  This is a Black Label book, and Grampa leans into that with vicious battles where Batman thrusts his fingers into a thug's eye sockets and Batman himself is beaten, bloody, and even close to death.  We haven't seen a Batman like this in a while, but we have seen it before, and because it plays so much like Frank Miller's Batman, it doesn't feel as new and fresh as it should.

We do get a new villain, Crytoon, who is interesting.  Sure, he is played up in this first issue as this Batman's Joker, but he is unique enough to stand alone if we get some solid information and character work going forward.  The problem is that Rafael Grampa is so busy throwing everything and the Bat-Sink at the reader that he doesn't focus enough on anything.  We get Crytoon, but we also get a (for now) random girl spouting her political and social ideas on social media.  There is a serial killer investigation, but we also get way too many pages showing us the Blind Machine - a steel-plated Batmobile that isn't an interesting concept and is a dud to look at.

Watch our Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 Video Review

Along those lines, art-wise, it is a bit of a shame that Rafael Grampa decided to tell an early Batman story here.  I say that because there is little to wow readers with.  The Bat Cave is just a cave with some video screens and a microscope, Batman doesn't have a ton of gadgets, and the Batsuit isn't anything that will pull your eyes toward it.  

There are some good things in the issue as well.  Rafael Grampa writes a good Alfred, and the back and forth between him and Bruce is intriguing.  Batman and Gordon also play off each other well, and we do get more detective work in this one issue than we have seen in a decade.  I hope it pays off and is expanded upon as we go forward.

Overall, this first issue was a disappointment for me.  There is too much going on storywise, and while some of the concepts are cool, they get lost in the shuffle.  The overall pacing and scene transitions need to be much tighter, and hopefully, this series doesn't end up feeling like a Dark Knight wannabe by the end.

Bits and Pieces:

Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 is a convoluted start to a story with some cool concepts, but it needs tightening up going forward.  Whether you like this book or not is going to hinge mainly on if you like Rafael Grampa's art, and personally, nothing in this first issue wowed me.  Hopefully, things improve in the next three issues, because this #1 was a big disappointment for me.


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