Writer: Rafael Grampá
Art: Rafael Grampá, Matheus Lopez, and John Workman
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 16th, 2023
In a Gotham City where every day feels darker and more irredeemable than the last, Batman makes a definitive choice—to kill off the Bruce Wayne identity for good and embrace the cowl full-time. But though he knows the streets of Gotham, Batman will soon come to find that he hardly knows himself as Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 by Rafael Grampá. A serial killer is on the loose, and while the murder victims seem random at first, every clue draws Batman closer to the terrifying truth—that they are all connected, not just to each other…but to him… When an all-new rogues gallery of utterly depraved villains begins to emerge from the depths of the city, Batman will have to contend with the very nature of evil—including that which lurks inside in the darkest corners of his own heart—to face what’s coming for his city.
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Let’s start by simply saying that Rafael Grampá is an acquired taste. His comic art style characteristically pushes a “too much is never enough” persona. Grampá enjoys overloading the reader with images upon images making the design busy and almost too messy to follow at times. Granted, this should be expected if you know anything about Grampá’s technique.
He goes full bore into his story promoting a sense of practicality that harnesses this sense of brutality and gore that drenches each page in this vintage veneer. However, I would argue that it’s too much at times to create a disturbing design that just doesn’t fit the M.O. of a Batman comic. Grampá’s illustrations promote a more grounded, natural Batman that seems more like a vigilante would be in modern society and less like a Superhero comic.
As for the story, Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 began a bit intense and simultaneously out of character from what one would expect from a Batman Comic. Moreover, when I say out of character, I more or less mean that Batman’s voice seemed way off. His inner monologuing was almost psychotic as well as his processing skills. It almost made no sense at times and didn’t portray or resemble the Batman/ Bruce Wayne dynamic well. Additionally, I understand Grampá’s version of Batman is young. However, his inexperience shows way too much throughout the issue. This Batman makes too many mistakes and appears to get beat down more than Tom King’s version.
Nevertheless, the story slows down a bit and gets cluttered with word balloons as Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 progresses. Furthermore, the hidden underlying political undertones are also overdone. Last but certainly not least, the weird villain mixed with the Bruce Wayne connection just didn’t make much sense and left this reviewer scratching his head, especially with the cliffhanger.
I went into Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham #1 excited for a new Batman story but left extremely underwhelmed with the story while simultaneously being a bit overwhelmed with the illustrations. The design was a mixture of cartoony meets gory in an effort to shock and amaze. However, I found the style took me out of the story on multiple occasions as well as the subtle story beats that were uncharacteristic of Batman and just didn’t jive well with the character. All the above being said, readers interested in Rafael Grampá are normally heading his way for what he brings artistically to a comic. If his style is your cup of tea, maybe you’ll get a bit more than I did out of the issue. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!