Gotham City: Year One (2022-) #1
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Tom King gets all noir with Bruce Wayne's grandparents and one of DC's earliest private detective characters, Slam Bradley. Some might cite her explanation as a mother's intuition, but when the other evidence is present, the timing of her visit is too suspicious to ignore.
It’s a time period with the potential to offer a interesting look at an as of yet unexplored part of Gotham’s history that could give context to Batman’s crusade. The Batcave was his hideout where he would collect trophies of his sexual conquests in a disgusting twist on Batman’s collection of mementos. I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn't just read King's noirish treatment of the Human Target recently, but my biggest problem is the stupidity of pairing a trigger warning with grawlix. Esse quadrinho me fez ficar grudado nele até eu entender todos os mistérios que ele estabelece e desbarata até a última página, mas também acaba deixando alguns na incumbência do leitor.At best it’s trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and at worst it’s a complete disregard for the sandbox you’re playing in. It’s also (indirectly) a Batman story, and the way it relates its Gotham with the one we know doesn’t work.
The biggest reveals of the series question Wayne Enterprises' dealings, the Waynes' marriage, and Constance and Richard's part in Helen's disappearance. While this book does tackle some issues like segregation, policing, and gentrification that are huge factors in why present-day Gotham has the issues it does, this story just does not do it justice. Slam Bradley, no matter how his character is modified in this series, that modification doesn't really change anything, even though it really should. Despite Sam's assurances that there was still hope that they may recover Helen, Constance was adamant that she was dead.With the timeline of Richard Wayne’s death and Thomas’ birth, it seemed like Slam being Thomas’ father is if not implied then at least left intentionally vague. Jordie Bellaire’s colors really shine here, as stark, pale depictions of Slam highlight the reds of the fire and blood. The racism is still very strong and well articulated without using slurs (although there's still plenty of racist language) and it's plenty noirish and dark. Two generations before Batman, private investigator Slam Bradley gets tangled in the kidnapping of the century as the infant Wayne heir disappears in the night and so begins a brutal, hard-boiled, epic tale of a man living on the edge and a city about to burn. The finale of a grand mystery is here this week in Gotham City: Year One, which promises answers to the murder mystery that rocked the Wayne family.
But Gotham going from the golden city to crime infested dumpster fire in twenty years is quite a stretch.
It's also (indirectly) a Batman story, and the way it relates its Gotham with the one we know doesn't work.
Sam is taken by surprise when Constance reveals she followed Richard and Sam to Finger Apartments and found Helen in the room Queenie kept her in. However, if this whole first issue is just the opening scenes the story, then it becomes far more appropriate and fits within the overall style that King is going for. It manages to tie up all the loose ends, meaningfully place a thematic poignancy on the characters' actions, and remain tense and exciting through to the end. The comic fell onto my desk like a sledge hammer coming down on a boulder – no one could tell you how exactly it would end up, but it was definitely going to leave a mark.Witness a pre-Batman Gotham, where everyone has secrets and the seediness that has been festering in the shadows of the city are brought to the surface, in pure Tom King-style. The noir aspect isn't as good as Sandman Mystery Theatre (which I'm aware I always cite when talking about noir and I will talk about it until I die) but it's still great.