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Life During Noir Time,
This review is from: Batman Earth One HC (Batman (DC Comics)) (Hardcover)
You have to feel bad for Alfred Pennyworth. A one-legged ex-soldier saddled with the guardianship of his late friend's traumatized son, he hadn't signed up for surrogate parenthood on a visit to Gotham City. Likewise, Detective Jim Gordon had long ago learned to look the other way while the city went about the business of eating its young. He didn't need a gung-ho new partner -- former reality TV cop Harvey Bullock -- to start shaking things up and turning over stones that were better left ignored. Not in Mayor Oswald Cobblepot's city.
This neo-noir reboot of Batman's origin story is as dazzling a feat of reimaginative virtuosity as any comic I've read this year, more radical even than the various "Before Watchmen" miniseries. Bruce Wayne's Batman is sloppy, angry, almost out of control, but obsessed with bringing down the man who ordered the killings of mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne and his wife, and putting Gotham right. But his mother's family home, the crumbling, mazelike Arkham house, haunts Gotham like a hungry ghost, and now shelters a serial killer with a taste for adolescent girls.
Noir is the imaginative territory where our hopes and dreams go to get the crap kicked out of them, and in true noir even the winners have nothing to show for their efforts but another day of survival. While today's Batman stories are (and have been for a generation or two) urban cowboy fantasies with neo-noir trappings, our emotions take a beating in this story, especially when we learn the extent of the ongoing atrocities in the Arkham house. Geoff Johns's lean, hard, time-hopping narrative will be easier to follow the second time through, and that gives us another opportunity to savor Gary Frank's heavily Brian Bolland-influenced pencils (abetted by sensitive inks and colors from, respectively, Jonathan Sibal and Brad Anderson).
The book ends with a wonderful splash page teaser ad for volume two. Which I'm eagerly, eagerly awaiting.