Gotham Girl is a new hero in Gotham city, who possesses super strength, flight and super vision and sees Batman as her inspiration. Now, while Batman has taken on the role of mentor before, (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake), in this instance it’s not Batman that reaches Gotham Girl, it’s Bruce Wayne.
The issue starts with Gotham Girl, alone talking to her deceased brother which makes her come off as a bit mad. To be fair having spent most of her life with her brother working to help others, only to have your parents murdered, to be emotionally manipulated to breaking point by a psycho pirate and then having to be the one who kills the most important person in her, life will do that.
Despite all the usual trappings of the comic world in this issue there is real heart to the story and Gotham Girl’s reaction is believable, something I found hit surprisingly close to home. We all grieve in our own way and find strength in knowing someone who’s moved on is perhaps watching over us. Sometimes we even imagine conversations we might have, whether it’s when we are dreaming or when we forget that persons gone. The only difference for Gotham Girl is she is speaking aloud her thoughts and what she would have said to her brother if he were still around.
This is a girl who has amazing abilities and is able to accomplish her dream of saving those in need like her hero Batman, but can’t leave her imaginary conversation long enough to be the hero she wants to be. The juxtaposition of the more bombastic villains in Gotham with Gotham Girl’s reaction to take down the threat while still speaking to her brother is oddly haunting.
It’s something that gets built upon fantastically, with Batman gradually appearing more in the story just as Gotham Girls madness reaches the point where he has to intervene. It’s a great moment because this isn’t your typical story from Batman there’s no major battle, no Bat God or insane gadgets being used, just a broken man, trying to fix an equally broken person because he chooses to.
Alongside the main arc there are some other great moments; a particular favourite of mine is the introduction to Kite-man after rebirth. The writer has said in interviews this is a nod to Stilt-man’s behaviour over at marvel. It’s a hilarious short and sweet introduction and a nice cut away. I like the way Tom King brings in the goofier villains but still makes them terrifying and it’s something I hope he continues to do as its refreshing seeing a writer tackling villains other than the Joker constantly.
Another major credit to this series is the artwork, it has been fantastic and I really appreciate how much emphasis has been put on the detailing of characters and of the Gotham itself. Nothing can ruin immersion more than bad art on a great story.
As a whole it’s a pretty great story arch, however not everything is perfect. The parts included with Duke could have been left out. Duke is an interesting character and idea but just doesn’t gel with me. I would have preferred Batman discuss how to deal with Gotham Girl with Gordon, Alfred or possibly Leslie Thompson a character we haven’t seen in a while, but who helped Bruce deal with his own parent’s death. By having the impetus on Duke to help jar Bruce into helping just doesn’t flow as nicely, which is why when the moment comes to help, it feels a little odd.
The practical connotations afterword as well are a concern but the issue doesn’t take long to move onto setting the stage for next month’s issue which to be fair looks damn good and with this interpretation of Batman being able to fail makes it exciting to see what can happen next.