Group Review: Batman: Rebirth #1

Say what? That's right, we're doing a group review for one of DC's new titles! If this is your first time reading one of our group reviews, and let's be honest it probably is unless you've been following us the past few weeks, then here's how it goes: Each writer gives their score and thoughts on the issue. That's it. Also there's probably some spoilers since there's like six of us reviewing this book so read it first if you don't want any surprises. You've been warned.

Comic Bastards Synopsis: Get ready for birth metaphors and bats because this is the start of a newish Batman! This ain't no reboot, just an all new, all different branding for you to sink your eyes into. Can't sink your teeth that would be weird. Also, this issue answers the question of who Tom King will top the Vision sweater. Answer: He goes below the equator!


Ugh…what a disappointment.

I’m sorry – I really don’t mean to be a dick but come on; what was that? First of all: Calender Man? Of all the C-List, back of the closet, Rogues Gallery villains to drum up out of obscurity – Calender Man?! I understand Tom King not wanting to show his hand too early but I think we all deserved a bit more than that. Also, why was he releasing spores? Didn’t we just go through an almost identical scenario back in issue #50 with Mr. Bloom? In fact, there were several scattered and tertiary references to numerous Batman titles that helped make for a muddy plot: did you notice Bruce and Duke kicking the tree? Almost a panel-for-panel take from Batman: Year One. The others are less overt but if you observe closely there are clear references to The Black Mirror, The Long Halloween and The New 52.

On the subject of Duke Thomas, why was he there? What was the offer? More so, does anyone care? I am sure that the topic of Duke’s suit will get lit-up like a Christmas tree in this review, so I might as well add my fodder to the flames: that suit sucked ass. For wanting to completely shed themselves of all things New 52 with this ‘don’t call it a re-launch’ re-launch event, DC seems reluctant to let it die completely, even still.

Batman-Rebirth-#1Last of my griping, I swear: why was Bruce Wayne doing one-handed pull-ups on a helicopter pad in front of Lucius Fox in his underwear? And why was it the most well-drawn panel of the entire book? That was just so random, out of place, and quite frankly stupid. It sums up the artistic approach in fell swoop: too much attention to all the wrong details.

I wasn’t coming in here to shit all over Rebirth; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Batman. But I think that it gets so caught up in paying homage to where it came from that it completely loses track of where it’s supposed to be headed; I’m hoping that’s the case. When you re-launch or re-make a character as intrinsic and special as Batman it has to be better than good. It’s not enough to simply meet peoples’ expectations; you have to be constantly exceeding them. I’m shining a Bat Signal in the hope that someone save this series from itself.

ISAAC: 4/5

Overall I enjoyed the storytelling in this issue. It didn’t require a lot of previous knowledge of Batman continuity to understand it and the action was paced really well. The theme of “Rebirth” is all throughout this issue as Batman is battling his classic and in my opinion underused nemesis Calendar Man. Calendar Man represents a literal rebirth as he goes through a life-cycle which includes molting and being born again in a new skin with the same memories. I’m sure they’re setting him up to be a recurring villain.

Another “rebirth” is Batman’s recruitment of a new alley. He doesn’t have a name yet but he looks like he’s going to be a major upgrade of Robin. The characters costume is something fresh in design. A costume isn’t everything but I think the style helps shape up a new unique sidekick for Batman. I’m looking forward to seeing his arsenal of weapons and skills.

I think some scenes in this issue sum up Bruce Wayne’s philosophy very well. It shows him to be more motivated to fight criminals instead of just fight them. There’s a level of egotism that’s pretty clear which I think helps keep Batman interesting. The brooding dark night persona gets a little boring after a while. Writers Scott Snyder and Tom King are exploring the fact that The Dark Knight fights crime not only because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to prove something to himself and take on new challenges.

If this one shot is any indication then I’m all in on this new phase of Batman. It’s a great jumping on point for anyone looking to start fresh with the series. I can’t predict how the arc will unfold but as long as DC doesn’t cram continuity down our throats like it did in the New 52 it’s shaping up to be a worthwhile run.


I don't care at all about DC's big overhaul but since I've been chugging old 'Batman' graphic novels lately I figure I care enough about Batman to crack a review copy. While not unreadable by any means, this reboot makes a lot of talk about renewal, new ideas, and fresh starts, but fails to suggest a real fresh take on the Dark Knight. Calendar Man is the big bad in this issue, given a new bizarre physical gimmick and a bump up from novelty criminal to supervillain, with Batman trying to foil a catastrophic Gotham ending event. Planned by Calendar Man.

Calendar Man.

You know, some of the charm of having a Rogues Gallery as deep as Batman's is that not all of his villains need to be titanic foes of Joker proportions. Scott Snyder already wore me the fuck out on his 'every arc, Gotham burns' formula that took the majesty out of Batman vs. the Apocalypse, starting the new series on a one shot that essentially sneezes out a new one isn't inspiring much hope. Also, Batman has a new Robin, only he tells him he's not a new Robin. “I'm trying something new.” And then he and not-Robin go kick a tree together like that one bit from 'Batman: Year One' which Frank Miller made seem a lot more cool than it actually is. It sums up a lot of what I got from this comic, saying something is new and different when it actually feels like a lesser version of what we were already kind of bored with before.

BM_Aspen_Turner1The one utter standout is the art. Not familiar with Mikel Janin, but this book looks stellar. Slick and precisely detailed, it has a sense of scale that fits this glossy tech-powered Batman well. His art made me slow down to really soak in certain panels. How cool is the art? In one bit, Bruce holds a business meeting with Lucius Fox in 100+ degree weather on a skyscraper rooftop, doing sexy slippery underwear pullups off of a helicopter pad while Lucius ruins his suit with sweat stains, because I guess Bruce wanted to finally put his cards on the table and sexually intimidate him, Christian Grey style. While reading the comic? I didn't notice how dumb that was until I had to put it down in writing. Kudos as well to June Chung, who complements the lines with bright colors that kick up the intensity.

I hate nothing here, but seeing this book is a direct continuation of storylines from the end of the last Snyder 'Batman', 'Rebirth' just seems like 'Renumbering'. I'll stick with my old trades for now.

Also, Alfred, that many bats cannot share one avocado. If you’re going to be such a cheapskate, maybe you should pick a less expensive food to feed bats with.

ASA: 4/5

Tom King has become the best writer of the big two by doing what should be the most basic action of any writer--he tells stories. In the midst of the endless continuity snarls, fandom shoutouts, and crossovers, Tom King focuses on telling engaging, tight stories that effortlessly shrug of the weight of a superhero universe in favor of motivation, action, and resolution. Batman Rebirth #1 sees King embark on his biggest project yet, taking over DC's flagship superhero from Scott Snyder (credited here as a co-writer though the script feels very much in line with King's work).

And, despite the hype, this was a standout introduction to Batman, telling a compelling superhero stories in twenty pages while setting up an intriguing new status quo. There's no claiming it was a masterpiece (it's too cramped for one and the horror elements seem like Snyder contributions that are at odds with the rest). But in the midst of a reboot gaining notoriety for it convolutions and meta-narratives, having an actual story is kind of refreshing.

It remains to be seen exactly how King's Bruce Wayne, Gotham City, and, of course, Batman will be characterized (although some intriguing hints are dropped), but I've rarely felt more optimistic about a new superhero book. Also, Michael Janin is as welcome an addition to the bat-family of artists as we've had in quite some time.

STEVE: 2/5

As anyone who has listened to the Comic Bastards Mother Fucking Podcast in the last seven months will tell you, I have a big fat talent crush on Tom King. His work on Marvel’s Vision book has been nothing short of exceptional: an industry-redefining tragedy that has breathed new life into an ironically breathless character in ways that I, for one, never imagined possible. It is sublime in its uniqueness, piquant in its heartbreak. It is new and it is beautiful. It is terrible and profound.

Perhaps naively, I hoped he could apply the same incredible narrative sorcery to arguably comics’ most tired, played-out stalwart in Batman. Unfortunately, in Batman Rebirth #1, King - most likely at the behest of DC editorial, as well as outgoing scribe, Scott Snyder - feels like he has his hands tied. As a result, this issue feels like much the same muchness as has long existed in Batman stories. Oh sure, there are interesting things afoot - the most intriguing of which being Calendar Man’s topical powers of “rebirth,” not to mention that being a prevalent theme throughout (up to and including New Robin symbolism and colors) - but for the most part, this still feels like a by-the-numbers Batman story.

After such transcendent storytelling in his run on Vision, I (perhaps unfairly) expected more from King’s first turn on Batman. I’m still interested in seeing what happens when he is given the full reins of the property and is not beholden to its previous creative team. I also think there could be enough here to offer a solid foundation for things to come, but time will tell on that score. For now, this is an altogether forgettable “zero issue,” which does nothing for the legacy of the character or its new driving creator.

CARL 1/5

Let’s just get this out of the way.  DC Comics is in that cycle where they are in shambles.  Marvel, on the other hand, can print a shopping list, slap a Joe Quesada cover on it, and make tons of money off it.  (Plus, it will probably be made into a lucrative film franchise.)  The reverse happened for the last thirty or so years where Marvel struggled financially and creatively.  For this current comic book industry El Niño, DC is the bottom bitch.

And a third rebooting in less than five years is not the sign that everything is working just fine.  Whoops, I’m not supposed to call it a reboot.

Batman Rebirth VariantWhen a comic starts off with Alfred picking avocados, there is a very good chance that this action foreshadows bad things.  Think of it like the oranges on the table in The Godfather movies.  So as not to be too negative, let me say that Scott Snyder and Tom King present a story of Batman grappling with Calendar Man that is standard fare as Batman issues go.  There’s action, cool scenes, and some new developments.

But there’s also a lot of misfires.

Included in the story is the addition of Duke, a young man who wants to be more than Robin but doesn’t quite feel ready for the mantle of the bat.  Duke’s given one of the most awful looking suits.  Honestly, he looks more like a mustard tube than a crime fighter.

Calendar Man poses some threat.  However, he molts his skin and has a scene—I’m not making this up—where his new body rises from the husk of the old by escaping through the mouth.  Not only is this anatomically impossible, it is also just damned silly.

So this “Rebirth” gives readers nothing more than complete confusion and absolute absurdity.  When we need a symbol of justice who will stand firm as a representation of the law, especially considering all the recent, real-world events, we get a rebirth.

It looks more like afterbirth.


Congrats! You've made it to the end of the group review. I will actually spare you from my entire opinion because can just listen to it on the CBMFP: Rebirth Special! That's right, recorded this shit. I was going to do a video as well, but fuck I only have so much time.

Anyway, here's all I have to say about the issue: Batman now has super powers.

Think about it. Think about it. Keep thinking.

Okay point one, I know it's a comic book but Batman aka Bruce Wayne is just a dude right? Meaning he's victim to the same laws of gravity that we all are. Guess what's physically impossible to do? Fucking let your hand slip without having the other hand planted and actually keep yourself from falling. You don't have the finger strength and that includes the Dark Knight. Sorry, just can't happen. Dude would have fucking fallen and so that's point one. He's got super strength now.

Point two, he can hold his breath longer than possible. They fucking tell you, "I'll be brain dead or some shit so count for me" and then he stays way to long. Is he showing off? No, he's fucking superhuman. He's got that Steve Rogers pre-Hail Hydra shit going on. I'm telling you, they gave him superpowers which totally wrecks Batman forever.

I still gave it two points though because I liked the art. I could be less waxy, but I think that overall it was beautiful to look at and Mikel Janin did a hell of a job working with the shit that Scott Snyder and the unfortunately paired Tom King, had to work with. I mean... they were kicking fucking avocado trees for fucks sake! "YOU WANNA NOT BE ROBIN!?! KICK THAT TREE DOWN!!" What the fuck is wrong with Batman other than Scott Snyder writing him?

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Writers: Scott Snyder & Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Release Date: 6/1/16
Format: Print/Digital