Review: BATMAN #45

Written by Tom King
Art by Tony S. Daniel, John Livesay, Tomeu Morey, & Clayton Cowles
Edited by Jamie S. Rich and Brittney Holzherr
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 18, 2018

What the what?

Booster Gold is in Gotham and the world does not look like how we typically see it. In his search to find Batman, Booster discovers that the cowl is being sported by a familiar face, but not the one that anyone expects. As he continues his journey through Gotham, Booster figures out exactly what he changed and it’s met with a surprising, but not completely unexpected, response.

From the very beginning of this issue, everything is off-kilter. The opening scene in particular sets the tone for everything that follows after. Gotham is always a city with a lot going on, but in this world it is one that is made all the more strange by the juxtaposition of normal, everyday life and weird goings-on, beyond what we typically see for the city defended by the Dark Knight.

Tom King leaves us with more questions than answers in this issue. Everything starts to make some modicum of sense as Bruce puts things together, only for that slowly building clarity to come to a literally smashing halt. Seeing King’s work through the lens of Booster Gold is revelatory; Booster’s voice is rendered in a way that you don’t always see from the writer’s deliberate and serious style. Booster’s interaction with, well, everyone, is true to form, but his communication with Skeets is gold.

Though everything becomes more clear by the final pages of the issue, there is a lot that readers may have to buy into. This issue may be a hard sell because it takes a while before things begin to come together. With this first chapter out of the way, though, I think the next installments won’t have so much of a need for information as the story develops.

Tony S. Daniel and John Livesay render Gotham with clarity. In each panel, characters feel fully realized and they work well within the context of the story. With such a jarring premise, having Daniel and Livesay working together helps readers follow along. Using a more odd or chaotic style would have given Batman #45 a much more different feel, and I appreciate how the imagery plays out within the tone of the story.

Tomeu Morey’s colors are an excellent fit for this story. The brightness and hues belie what is going on around Booster. He especially is like a beacon throughout the issue, his gold and blue cast as a light. Morey’s work also fits with how Booster is generally cast but also his role in this story. He is rather hapless, his idea of a ‘gift’ to Bruce really being a disaster, which puts him at odds with this newly created Gotham.

I love when art thematically counters ideas of chaos or frenzy. This Gotham is one where things pretty immediately just do not make sense. So, having an art style that does not go with this sort of theme and instead is done with a lot of structure and order can capitalize on the strangeness of a comic. Daniel, Livesay, and Morey bring their styles together in a manner which looks like a paradoxical artistic optimism in contrast to a story with wonky physics from start to finish.

This issue will have you scratching your head and wondering what’s coming next. Especially coming of the heels of the previous issue, things feel out of place. I’m curious how things will play out from here, as Bruce makes a choice that we don’t always see in cape comics, or from him especially, when it comes to reality altering time hijinks. Still, this team brings a lot of interesting elements into the fold so what we see from this point is likely going to be a very enjoyable kind of bonkers.

The Verdict: 8.5/10