Review originally posted here
.Why I Read It:
I love graphic novels. I was really into superhero graphic novels two years ago, but I stopped following a lot of them because I just didn't have the money to keep up with all the series I liked. I've been curious about the New 52 (I followed DC up until the end of the Blackest Night story arc), but never got around to checking it out. We received some of the hardcovers in at work the other day, so I decided to start off with Batman because he's one my favourite superheroes.
Straight up: I loved this. I was curious how they were going to introduce Batman/Bruce and the other characters from the Bat-verse, since this is a ret-con. I was wondering if we were going to have new origin stories or something, but that ended up not being the case: Batman is in full swing when we jump into things. You are expected to have some idea about everyone's origin story, so I wouldn't say this is 100% friendly for people who are new to superhero comics (for example: maybe not everyone knows that there has been more than one Robin; that the first Robin was an acrobat in the circus, or that he's now Nightwing; that the current Robin is Bruce's biological son; etc.)
The story itself was really engrossing. Batman comics are oftentimes atmospheric because Gotham is always so integral to the story, to the point where it feels like a character itself. This is also the case here; the story is very much about Gotham and the history of it, and how Batman has become so embedded in Gotham's identity. But the Court of Owls has come to retake that mantle, and they are quite the foe.
The only time that the story faltered for me was when Batman ended up in the labyrinth in the sewers. Things got a little too weird and surreal for me. I understand this was probably to reflect Batman's state-of-mind, and I respect that, but it still felt a little too bizarre. The way Batman was visually represented when he was making his crazy "comeback" when it looked like he was down was kind of strange too (though I understand that that also wasn't meant to be taken at face-value; Batman obviously wouldn't grow massive fangs). Anyway, this isn't exactly a fault of the story, but more an issue of personal taste.
The art was decent, but nothing amazing. I don't have much more to say in regards to that.Final Verdict:
I really enjoyed this ret-con; I thought we would get new origin stories or something, but we didn't, so a warning to new readers of super hero comics: you do have to have some pre-knowledge about certain characters and their origins. The story was tense and it actually felt like Batman was in DANGER, and I enjoyed most of the mystery aspects as well. It was really atmospheric as well, with Gotham being front and center. The only time the story faltered was about 2/3 of the way through, but it was more an issue of personal taste than it actually being BAD. The art was nothing more than your average, but I didn't hate it either. It was an all-around solid title and I'm excited to see more.