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Batman Rebirth #1

Written by Tom King and Scott Snyder
Art by Mikel Janin
Colors by June Chung
Published by DC Comics

Last week, DC published a great big apology to the fans with DC Rebirth #1, a book that admitted that things had gotten dark and murky and promised a little more joy while still appreciating the legacy without obeying each strand of continuity. It was an amazing gesture, and we loved it at Ultimate Comics. This week, DC has to put their money where their mouth is, applying this Rebirth idea to their most popular character while transitioning one of his best writers off the book.

It helps that the new writer has done excellent work on Grayson (and Sheriff Of Babylon and The Vision, if you need to look outside the Bat family). And it helps even more that the artist in this transition issue is Grayson’s own Mikel Janin, who has been doing amazing stuff with page layouts and sex appeal. So the main job here is for Tom King to say that what he does well with Batman’s old protege will work for Batman.

And it does.

The story is a neat little one-shot. The Calendar Man has a Doomsday machine hidden somewhere in Gotham that makes a whole season happen in a single day, and when we get to spring again, everyone in the city is going to die. Batman has to stop him, of course, but he also has to defend the lunacy of continuing the fight against a never-ending parade of homicidal psychopaths. And in the process, he defends DC publishing decisions, as metatextually as last week’s four-color mea culpa.

See, comics are a serial medium. The bad guys come back because a book has to get to the printer every month. But rather than look at this as pointless, Tom King defends that this is life. We are going to get hungry in a few hours, but we have lunch anyway. You’ll probably get a cold again next year, but your doctor is willing to dig in and help you be as healthy as you can today. A public defender is pretty sure her client is going to do it again, but she does what she can because maybe this time, it’s going to work. And that’s what’s important about DC. They make mistakes. Huge, linewide apocalypse mistakes. But they come back. Just like the Calendar Man, they go through autumns and winters, but they have spring again. And it is clearly spring for fans of Batman. Yes, in the future, readers will be outraged and swear to quit forever. But that’s like saying it will never be summer again. Please don’t buy books you don’t like. Don’t support work you find uselessly distasteful or offensive. But remember that this is a business of cycles, and you can always come back.

If you’re ready to come back to Batman (and really, even if you hated the New 52, Batman was consistently amazing throughout), head on down to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill or Raleigh for Batman Rebirth #1. It’s spring again.

-Matt Conner