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Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham (Rebirth) Paperback – January 17, 2017
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From the Publisher
Interview with Author Tom King
1. You’re the new writer of Batman. That’s pretty damn cool. What excited you the most about coming onto the title? What was the most daunting?
It’s the same answer. The trick with Batman, the joy with Batman, is that Batman is a story told. For eight decades now, in a dozen genres, great writers of a few great generations have given us their take on Batman. After all of that amazing work, is there anything left to say? The answer, of course, is yes. Batman still appeals to modern life and culture. He can still express the greatest fears of his writers and readers. The challenge then is to find out why that is and then execute it. A challenge like that is horribly frightening and horribly fun.
2. Two of the best illustrators in the comics industry, David Finch and Mikel Janin, are working on Batman. What does each of them bring to the table?
David’s unmatched talent is to make horror beautiful. When you look at his pages, at the details, you sort of fall into them, they seem to surround you; you lose your own world and accept his. He transforms Gotham City’s darkness into stunning layers of deco and dirt. He makes every punch hurt, every villain’s cackle wondrously annoying. I love his stuff. Mikel, who comes from an architecture background, is a master of page design, and maybe the greatest layout artist working in comics today. That is, he constructs pages to tell a story in clear and yet original ways; techniques that thrill the eye without taking you away from the emotions of the characters in the boxes. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, and everything you want to see again.
3. In Batman Vol. 1, we get to see foes such as Hugo Strange, the Calendar Man and Kite Man. With such a vast rogues gallery, why dig so deep into Batman’s villains? What about them interests you?
Every villain in the rogues gallery reflects an aspect of Batman, brings it out in the comic. The Joker shows Batman his own insanity; the Riddler shows Batman his own obsession. And on and on. The problem is, you’ve seen these Batmans before. You’ve seen the insanity and the obsession. And on and on. By digging deeper into the gallery, I can give you a Batman maybe you haven’t seen. How Catwoman shows Batman his own pain. How Kite Man shows Batman his own absurdity. How Calendar Man shows Batman his own mortality. If I’m putting something out there that surprises you, that makes you jump, then I’m doing my job; the villains are just a tool to get that done.
4. The title of the graphic novel I Am Gotham plays upon themes within the book, including the spirit of Gotham City itself, as well as who personifies it. Why begin your Batman run with this arc?
Over the first year of Batman, I wanted to look at what made Bruce a hero; what makes a man in tights with nothing but his will and his wit able to stand in a pantheon of gods with Superman and Wonder Woman. I think the answer to that is the question; that is, what makes him a hero is that he is a man in a world of gods. That his power is derived from the same set of skills all of us have. To bring out this theme I start with the opposite, with a hero named Gotham, a kid who is as good as Batman and as powerful as Superman. What does it mean for the Dark Knight to have someone like that in his city? What does it tell us about him and about Gotham? That’s the starting point. What happens next is…
5. You’ve written many different types of titles for DC at this point, from the wartime murder mystery in Sheriff of Babylon to the super-spy stylings of Grayson to intergalactic terrorism in Omega Men. How do you bring some of those sensibilities to this mainstream superhero title?
Batman needs to move between genres. On one page it’s a comedy comic; on the next a noir crime series; on the next a horror book. All that mixed together becomes the Batman genre. Having written some books in a bunch of different styles and voices, I can (hopefully) keep up with these changes, and use the tricks of those styles to bring Batman to the forefront. So you’ll see quiet, poignant scenes of Batman and Catwoman that could come out of Sheriff. Or you’ll see funny Alfred-Batman interactions that could come out of Grayson. Or you’ll see epic battles that could come out of Omega Men. The best part of this series is that you get all that in one book. You get all that with Batman.
6. What does the word 'Rebirth' mean to you?
I have three kids, and I’ve seen by the time they’re two they have an idea what Batman is. Add to that, in my CIA days, I went to some odd corners of the world, and everywhere I went, everyone knew who Batman is. To me, 'Rebirth' means tapping into that energy, that Platonic ideal or universal human connection to this character. It means going back to that Batman you see when you close your eyes and picture your best version of Batman. If we can tap into that energy, let that fuel our journey, it’s going to be a pretty cool ride.
“Snyder indelibly defined the Dark Knight’s previous era, but King proves a worthy
successor as he takes over the title for DC’s wildly popular Rebirth initiative.” — BOOKLIST
“[Tom King] crafts an incredible story.” —NERDIST
“A clean, simple gateway into the Batman franchise…” —IGN
“King sets a new stage and tone for Batman and Gotham.” —POPMATTERS
“Sank its hooks into me and kept me thinking about it long after I had finished reading.”
About the Author
Tom King is a comic book writer and novelist, best known for his work at DC Comics including GRAYSON and OMEGA MEN. He often relies on his experience as an ex-CIA agent and experiences during the recent conflicts in the Middle East in his writing, especially apparent in GRAYSON (alongside co-writer Tim Seeley), OMEGA MEN and in SHERIFF OF BABYLON, published under the Vertigo imprint.
Top customer reviews
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The story also takes on classic ideas that feel new again when it's Batman undertaking them instead of, say, Superman. It's practically a right of passage for a powered hero to save a plane from crashing; it's a brand new sight to see Batman do so.
My one gripe is that Gotham and Gotham Girl don't get a long period of time to really get established before certain materials hit the fan. Gotham gets more focus early on, but not quite enough to feel like we know him before the twist, whereas Gotham Girl doesn't really do very much until after everything strikes. Hopefully, we'll get to see her fleshed out later on in King's run, as there is certainly potential to be found.
Overall an okay start but I expect better for one of DC central character books.
My only complaint was certain things would happen off page that I would've liked to have seen happen. Sometimes, I get the feelling that there is quite a bit more meat on that bone if the artists and writer would just let us see it. But, nevertheless, a great book.