Thursday, March 7, 2024

The Bat-Man: First Knight #1 Review


Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Mike Perkins
Colors by: Mike Spicer
Letters by: Simon Bowland
Cover art by: Mike Perkins
Cover price: $6.99
Release date: March 5, 2024

The Bat-Man: First Knight #1 reimagines Batman's origins in Gotham City at the advent of WWII when superstrong killers are sent out to murder Gotham's political leaders.
Is The Bat-Man: First Knight #1 Good?

I'll be the first to say there are too many Batman books on the LCS shelves. That said, The Bat-Man: First Knight #1 is a pleasant change of pace that gives readers a Year One feel in a period piece context with loads of grit, crime noir charm, and atmosphere. But for one or two stumbles, this issue is a great start.

Dan Jurgens's script takes readers back to the early days of Bat-Man when he was just an urban myth whispered about by gossip rags and Gotham City's superstitious underbelly. As America draws closer to participating in WWII, Gotham's political leaders are turning up murdered in brutal ways.

Bruce Wayne, working out of an abandoned warehouse and butler-free, deduces the next victim will be the mayor. When the Dark Knight surprises the killers in the middle of their next murder, Bat-Man stops the murder and learns, to his surprise, that the superhumanly strong killers were once executed criminals from Blackgate Penitentiary.

Bat-Man checks in on the latest execution about to take place to intervene in whatever body snatching might take place, but he's surprised by the prison guards and strapped to the electric chair for execution.

What's great about The Bat-Man: First Knight #1? Dan Jurgens successfully captures a Gotham City stretched to the breaking point. Citizens are still adapting to a world of change, starting from WWI, dovetailing into the Great Depression, and now, leading into another Great War. The atmosphere of tension is so thick, you could scoop it up with a spoon, and the Bat-Man is presented as a lone, determined figure trying to make a difference.

What's not so great about The Bat-Man: First Knight #1. Two rough spots detract from an otherwise stellar comic. First, Bat-Man takes brief refuge in a Synagogue while his undead killers are in hot pursuit. The urgency of the moment suddenly plunges when the Rabbi and Bat-man have a friendly chitchat about the troubles Jews endured in Nazi Germany. Uhh, maybe now's not the time, Rabbi.

Second, the ending strains credibility. Bat-Man is surprised and overwhelmed by prison guards, which is an authentic outcome, but the warden arbitrarily decides to have Bat-Man strapped to the electric chair and the switch thrown in full view of police and witnesses. The creative team put so much effort into making this comic authentic, grounded, and gritty, but that last moment is ridiculously over-the-top silliness by comparison. Yes, you want the cliffhanger to be a wow moment, but the last moment is just plain unbelievable.

How's the art? Truthfully, I was concerned when the Mikes were announced for this title. Their work on Swamp Thing was underwhelming, but I'll give credit where credit is due. The artwork here matches the tone, style, and substance of Jurgens's script perfectly. Yes, Perkins relies on an excessive amount of photo references and 3-D models, but the integration works well, and Spicer is showing a better range of color usage here than in Swamp Thing. Overall, it looks good.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

The Bat-Man: First Knight #1 is the bee's knees and exactly what you want out of a Black Label title. Jurgens nails the simmering tension of Gotham City at the time of global upheaval, and the art captures the gritty, crime noir atmosphere perfectly. Except for one or two minor stumbles, this issue is an excellent start.


1 comment:

  1. This has a Gotham By Gaslight vibe to it - looks interesting but it has been done before....