Gotham City is an integral element of the Batman story. It is the overwhelming crime of this locale that takes Bruce Wayne’s parents from him, and it’s abundant underworld also provides the Batman that the adult Bruce becomes with plenty of villains to exact his revenge upon. What is a hunter without a hunting ground? Surely there must be some darkness within the foundations of this city to account for the prevalence of evil within Gotham today. Excavating that darkness is what the just finished Batman: Gates of Gotham sets out to do.
Scott Snyder worked a type of magic in the Batman tales in his recent run on Detective Comics, and he brings some of that sorcery with him to this story. Joined by fellow writer Kyle Higgins, the two begin their story in the Gotham City of 1881 with Alan Wayne, Bruce’s ancestor, and architect Nicholas Anders. Wayne and a consortium of the city’s wealthy employ Anders and his brother to help them construct Gotham’s future. The events that transpire from this collaboration may be responsible for shaping the city’s character even into the present day.
Dick Grayson is still beneath the Batman cowl in this story. Aided by Robin, Red Robin and Blackbat, he races to stop a mysterious bomber from destroying Gotham City landmarks. What is the connection between this bomber and the construction of Gotham 130 years ago? Batman must find the answer to this question if he is to save the city.
Actually scripted by Higgins from a story developed by he and Snyder, this narrative moves briskly through its five issues. Nineteenth century flashbacks alternate with the modern story, filling in the background for the reader as Batman and his team discover new clues. Higgins cultivates a palpable sense of the secrecy at the heart of this story, and of the shroud of evil this secrecy creates. Trevor McCarthy’s artwork is very distinct. It accomplishes the difficult task of marrying a carefree looseness with a meticulous preoccupation with detail. His portrayals of these characters carry an authority that usually only comes after working on a single title for many issues.
This story wisely leaves room for it to be expanded upon in future tales. The legacies of Gotham’s old families still resonate within the current character of the city. Certainly Batman and his allies will have to confront this city’s mysteries once again at some point in their suspense-filled careers.
Batman: Gates of Gotham #5
Story by: Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins
Writers: Kyle Higgins & Ryan Parrott
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Layouts: Graham Nolan
Colorist: Guy Major
Published by DC Comics