Gates of Gotham #2
Story by: Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins
Written by: Kyle Higgins
Art by: Trevor McCarthy
So I wasn't exactly blown away by issue one of the Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins plotted, Kyle Higgins written series, Gates of Gotham, but based on Scott Snyder's involvement in the story planning, I decided to come back to see what the creative team would do for the second issue. I'm certainly glad I came back for more, because this is a solid issue.
One of the biggest success for Gates of Gotham #2 is that it takes all the setup from the first issue and really runs with it. The comic opens with a flashback sequence focusing on the two brothers introduced in the first issue, and the time spent in the past not only expands on Gotham City's history, it builds towards an excellent pay off towards issue 2's end. What's more, all the time spent in the present in between makes for a fast paced, action packed issue of Batman.
Snyder and Higgins involve a large cast of characters, including Batman (Dick Grayson, not Bruce Wayne), Red Robin, Robin, and Black Bat (Cassandra Cain's new superhero persona), and manages to give each character their moment in the limelight. And that is without even mentioning the various antagonists and secondary characters appearing throughout the comic who also get their fair share of memorable moments. It's all quite well done - and quite different - for each character, but I must highlight the great work done between Damian and Cassandra. I don't know if I've ever really seen the two interact before, but the scenes Snyder and Higgins have built between the two are issue-stealingly good.
Some time must also be spent in praise of the great work being done by Trevor McCarthy on art duties. I'm not terribly familiar with his work, but he is quickly winning me over with what he's doing in Gates of Gotham. He has a wonderfully distinct style that melds the sensibilities of Batman: The Animated Series with modern day Batman comics. It's perhaps a tad cartoony for some, but I'm really enjoying his work. Perhaps the best compliment I can offer is that the character designs from one character to another are all unique: every character has a clear outline that belongs only to them. To put it simply, the characters look different and are not simply interchangeable. And in a medium where men are often all the same degree of burly and women the same degree of buxom, that is a breath of fresh air.
For all the love I have for this issue, there are some minor quibbles that I must mention. It's not the fault of the creative team, but somehow during the flashback sequence a name got left out of one of the word balloons.
In case you can't make it out, the caption makes it clear that the mystery man in question is Alan Wayne (the Wayne relative active at this early time period), but that mistake shouldn't be happening at all. Not a major problem, but it did take me out of the story momentarily, which is hardly ideal. Editorial's job is to catch that, so it should have been caught.
My other complaint is a two page spread within the comic where the panel order is left a little unclear. It's during Batman and Red Robin's short talk with Commissioner Gordon. I realized after reading the issue a few times that the reader is supposed to go all the way from the left side of the first page to the right side of the second page, as the spread was done with three major rows in mind, but that isn't clear enough in my mind. There could have been a bit more bleed over from one page to the other to emphasize the intended reading order, but I digress. Again, it's not a major issue, but one I feel could have been avoided.
Final Thoughts - The above issues aside, Gates of Gotham #2 is a rather enjoyable read. This series is shaping up to be a fantastic reimagining / redefinition of Gotham's past, while also telling a great Batman story in Gotham's present. I was unsure about the series after issue 1, but issue 2 has assuaged my doubts and concerns. I can't wait to see what comes next, which is always the best feeling to have when you finish a comic book.