As far as ultimately climactic moments go for a comic book story arc, Tom King does not disappoint this week with Batman #5. Since the start of the "I Am Gotham" arc the entire series has been a tour de force of Batman dealing with his own internal demons while facing a pair of super-powered siblings, both of whom were just recently corrupted by Hugo Strange and Psycho Pirate. The corruption left Claire Clover AKA Gotham Girl, a frightened, quivering mess, while Hank Clover AKA Gotham went on a a rampage to destroy the city and cleanse it of its decay.
I'm simply not going to spoil much out of this one for you especially the first couple of pages or so, but I will tell you that it was nothing short of hilariously appropriate and was a great tension breaker for the situation at hand. The book is basically a big chase between Batman and Gotham where the Caped Crusader works over intercom with Duke Thomas to determine exactly how Hank and his sister got their powers and what they can do to stop Hank before he destroys the city.
From the beginning, King has made this Batman series a personal and emotional one with great introspective beats and fantastic parallels between Bruce Wayne and The Clover siblings. Just as Bruce took responsibility in Issue #3 for Gotham's very creation, here he is ready to sacrifice himself to save his city from Gotham's angry call to misplaced vengeance. To be fair, he does call for "help" in the middle of the mission and he gets it big time, if only to wear Gotham down and make him use most of his power until he burns out.
I have been very glad that DC Rebirth has seen Batman strong in now three different books: All-Star Batman by Scott Snyder, Detective Comics by James Tynion IV and this Batman series. In Detective Comics Batman faces a more physical challenge and foe, while in All-Star Batman he dabbles in physical and emotional struggles throughout that first issue. I feel like this Batman series is definitely the most emotional of the stories to this point and that runs right up to the end of this book and will continue on for one more issue before the next arc begins in the series.
Along with the great emotional depth, there's great action in this book too, matching the intensity and scale of the previous four issues in the "I Am Gotham" arc. There's never a sense that the stakes aren't high and they come to a huge rise at the end of this book.
This is my first introduction to the writing of Tom King and he really started off Batman's first Rebirth series with a bang. I haven't been disappointed with a single book yet and look forward to continuing this series into the next arc.
5 out of 5 - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH: Batman #5
This series runs twice a month, next issue due out September 7.