ALERT! The following has lots and lots of SPOILERS!
It appears Batman is taking some new students under his wing. (Get it? ‘Cus he’s a bat.) Gotham and Gotham Girl asking Batman to teach them how to fight the fight just goes to show that there’s more to being a superhero than having super strength and being able to fly. Honestly, though, there’s a reason Batman’s been an integral part of the Justice League for so long, despite his inabilities to lift buildings out of the ground or fly sans Batplane.
But getting to the issue at hand, we finally see some more familiar bad-guy faces. Solomon Grundy makes a very poetic entrance in this issue in a bout with the Gothams (that could almost be the name of a new sitcom show, except instead of getting stuck on a subway with a “TV Guide” fanatic, our characters would be getting mugged) while tearing up the Statue of Justice (…wait a second). And at the end, we reunite with our old friend Dr. Strange.
Grundy is wreaking havoc at the Statue of Lib—I mean, the Statue of Justice, Gotham and Gotham Girl show their inexperience as superheroes, and Dr. Strange is up to his old, wacky science experiments, again.
No. 1: Solomon Grundy breaks justice
Grundy has been unleashed on Gotham City, as he recites his nursery rhyme so everyone knows it most certainly is him. It’s up to Gotham and Gotham Girl to stop him. At the Statue of Justice, Grundy’s super strength matches up quite nicely with the two heroes akin to Superman himself, as the duo exchange several staggering blows with the reanimated brute.
But it appears the Gothams’ efforts aren’t enough to stop Grundy from splitting the Statue of Justice in half, doing so in a very spiteful fashion, as he smacks Gotham straight into the statue. Grundy then tries to make his escape, but he’s blocked by an ominous figure revealing himself from a vent on the sidewalk.
It is, of course, Batman.
Batman being Batman takes out Grundy in a single, one-handed toss over his head while literally adding insult to injury.
So, to clarify, Batman (with his non-super strength) took out Grundy with one arm while the Gothams’ (notice the plurality) two-page battle ended in the Statue of Justice getting sawed in half.
Oh, and a man would’ve been trampled if Batman hadn’t shown up.
No. 2: Professor Batman
More than anything, this issue gives readers more insight into Gotham and Gotham Girl while establishing the main upcoming villain. After Batman stopped Grundy, Gotham begins to show his and Gotham Girl’s experience as superheroes. Batman acknowledges that while the duo is good, they can still be better, noting that a homeless man would’ve been trampled before Gotham would have stopped Grundy from escaping.
This is where you really begin to see a dramatic shift in tone from issue No. 1 to issue No. 2. In No. 1, the Gothams save Batman from the plane crash and are fixed in a position hovering above Batman, asserting a sense of dominance over the guardian of Gotham. But seven pages into No. 2, Gotham admits his duo’s need and desire to be better.
The bout with Grundy shows how much more experienced the Justice League veteran is than the two new caped crusaders. Whereas Batman took down Grundy with one arm, the other two couldn’t take him out with super strength AND flight.
Here’s what Gotham says to Batman after the fight.
We’re not here to challenge you or anything. We’re here to help this city. My city. Our city. You—you’re Batman. You’ve been fighting this war for years. But we’re here now, and…if we’re fighting it wrong, show us how to fight it right.
Commissioner Jim Gordon later signals for Batman, and the Gothams join them at the usual hangout. With all of Batman’s usual antics, Gordon is hardly shocked that the two new super people are with Batman.
The imagery in their introduction page with Gordon is so symbolic. Again, Gotham and Gotham Girl are fixed in a superior position relative to Gordon, but, this time, the Bat Signal shines behind the two, literally placing the duo under Batman’s wing.
Lastly, Batman unintentionally asserting himself as the teacher is the icing on the cake. It’s revealed to us that the Gothams have “ultra vision,” allowing them to see “everything.” As Batman seemingly disappearsinto thin air, as he always seems to do, both Gotham and Gotham Girl try to search for him, but they can’t find him.
Wax on, wax off.
No. 3: Something “Strange” is coming
So, the reason why Gordon called Batman (and, I guess, the Gothams) is because someone fronting as a representative from Gordon’s bank committed suicide in his office. His name was Bob Castro, and he admitted to freeing Solomon Grundy and telling him to bring down the Statue of Justice before he stuck a letter-opener in his neck.
Before he does so, though, he leaves an ominous message.
“Aren’t they STRANGE?”
As it is later confirmed, this hints at the reintroduction of Dr. Hugo Strange. Like the Kobra soldier who shot down the airplane in No. 1, Castro, too, kills himself, leaving no evidence, except what leftover guilt allowed him to reveal.
Strange’s new experiments are not so new after all. From January 2006 to June 2006, six issues of “Batman and the Monster Men” were published, in which Strange creates lethal giants out of human patients from Arkham Asylum.
We see Strange working with what may be the first of his patients—a mane named Roger—at the end of the issue. Behind him are Amanda Waller and a military general. Waller, who puts together the Suicide Squad in DC Comics’ latest film of the same name, is a government official who is on the bad side of doing whatever she can to achieve her goals, usually with her rationale centering around national security.
If the threat is as monstrous as it appears, it’s a good thing the Bat’s got some extra muscle.
It’s good to see some classic Batman villains reintroduced in the DC Universe Rebirth series. It gives both old fans and new fans alike an opportunity to share classic stories while a new one unfolds.
But before we end, I have to plug this in somehow: Batman taking Gotham and Gotham Girl as students, perhaps, hints even more at his inevitable death. Of course, Batman taking sidekicks is nothing new, but combine Batman’s intellect and strategic prowess with the abilities of Superman, and you at least can see a potential retirement.
No. 3 is out; we’ll have a full analysis within the week.