Gotham has a habit of breaking individuals.
Hopeful hearts that seek to save the city from itself all too frequently end up broken because of it. Such is the fate of Gotham Girl.
Spoilers to follow.
Batman #6 is the epilogue to Writer Tom King's first Batman arc, and if the goal was to plant a seed for future stories, it was certainly achieved.
The issue focuses on Gotham Girl, who tragically lost her brother Gotham, also known as Hank, to the manipulation of Hugo Strange and the Psycho Pirate. While she didn't suffer the same fate as her brother, Strange and the Pirate didn't leave her mind unscathed, and the Gotham Girl we meet here is a far cry from the vibrant and inspired hero we met when the arc started.
"Master Bruce, with all due respect, each night you leave this perfectly lovely house and go leaping off buildings dressed as a giant bat. Do you really think I helped you?"
While she is the prevalent presence in the story, King still manages to make the ultimate focus about Bruce Wayne's ability to help others through sharing his pain, the very pain that drove him to become Batman. Some of the most captivating dialogue comes in an exchange with Alfred, as a perplexed Bruce reaches out for guidance. Ironically it's in how to help someone cope with their grief, a skill that Bruce has struggled with in the past as well.
Batman #6 continues the trend of a more compassionate Bruce, a Bruce who is willing to reveal himself when the situation calls for it. It leads to an incredibly touching scene and one that I won't spoil here. You'll just have to read it.
On art duties is the talented Ivan Reis, who's work is perfectly complimented by colorist Marcelo Maiolo. Reis's work is similar in some ways to David Finch's, so the change in artist wasn't as noticeable as it could've been. Even still, there were some moments when it came to Claire that just looked a bit stilted, but later in the book his Batman more than makes up for it, so we'll call it even.
If there was a negative, it came in the form of villains like The Blimp, Captain Stingaree, and Kite Man -- villains who don't necessarily inspire dread, or inspire much of anything. The idea was possibly that since they weren't incredibly important to the main story, why not use some quirky villains as opposed to stalwarts like The Joker, Two-Face, and the Penguin. If that is the idea then it was a good one, but having all three of these D-listers (and that's being kind) in the same book was perhaps a bit overkill.
Also worthy of note is if you didn't find yourself enamored with Gotham or Gotham Girl, this story will be rather lost on you.
While they may seem an odd choice, the villains aren't why the book succeeds. It brings the story to a fitting closure, while still leaving a few seeds behind, all the while setting up the next big arc. No one wants a completely vulnerable Bruce all the time, but having those moments shine through every now and again has made Rebirth's Batman better for it.
Rating 2 out of 5 Stars
Written By: Tom King
Pencils By: Ivan Reis
Inks By: Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Scott Hanna
Colors By: Marcelo Maiolo