This is kind of a difficult issue to review, not because I didn’t enjoy the story or the art, but because there is glaring error that is repeated multiple times throughout the book that kicked me out of the story every single time it showed up. And it’s an error that, if it was done by the creators, should have been caught by the editor, yet obviously wasn’t.
The title of this series refers not to any actual gates into Gotham, but rather the Gates brothers, who built much of what Gotham is today, and were undone by Gotham’s wealthiest families. And while I’m usually averse to such plays on words, I was fine with it in this instance because I enjoyed learning the history of the Gates boys.
But for some strange reason, their name is no longer Gates. Suddenly, the “s” has disappeared. This wouldn’t be so glaring if it weren’t for the fact that this is the fourth issue of the series, so all this time we’ve been reading about the Gates brothers and suddenly they’ve become the Gate brothers.
It’s also aesthetically questionable, because I have never known anyone with the last name “Gate.” To make matters worse, it’s actually printed on a book, so as to make it that much more obvious that, for some reason, it’s been changed.
I realize it might seem like I’m harping on this error, but it mars what is a fantastic issue in a fantastic series. This book thrives on two really strong points: the backstory about Gotham, and the relationships among the various members of the Bat-family. I’m a sucker for both of these things. I love period pieces in comics and this one has been really well done. The establishment of the four families of Gotham (well, three and the Kane family) is genius and I would love to read more about them. It also gives real depth the Penguin, Hush, and what I assume is the original Batwoman.
Anyone who’s read anything else about comics by me knows that I find Bruce Wayne to be somewhat boring. It’s his various sidekicks that interest me, and this series gives us four of them: Dick Grayson as Batman, Red Robin, Robin, and the Blackbat. I’m savoring every moment I get with Dick Grayson as Batman, since DC is pulling the plug on one of the greatest stories in the history of the character. For that matter, who knows what Red Robin will be like once he has wings and there’s been no sign of the Blackbat in DC’s solicitations for September or beyond. This could be the last hurrah for the four of them, so it’s nice to see them get some quality time on the page.
While I miss Trevor McCarthy’s art, I can understand if the rush to get this series out before the relaunch meant he had to skip an issue. Dustin Nguyen and Derec Donovan to a nice job of filling in, and the overall look of the book stays relatively the same. The change in the art team doesn’t overshadow the story.
I’m actually kind of dreading the finale of this series, if only because I know it will coincide with the end of this era of Batman. I am glad we’re getting this one last hurrah with these characters, though, and hopefully the pieces introduced here about old Gotham will be picked up on after September.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I’m Being Shot At,” available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter as @kylegarret.