Writer: Tom King
Art: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 1st, 2022
The bloody, bare-knuckled crime series continues! A bruised and battered Slam Bradley find himself embroiled in a shocking case in this week’s all new Gotham City: Year One #2 by Tom King as the infant heiress to the Wayne fortune has been kidnapped! But as with all things in Gotham City, nothing is what it seems…Can he solve the case in time to save a young life and secure the Wayne legacy or will the secrets of Gotham bury them all?
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King’s take on the hardboiled crime story, classic noir, and gritty antihero involving the grim perspectives of the human condition was still spot on. This classic story trope hit the mark splendidly with the grim urban settings and morally compromised lead left with an extremely bleak outlook for the Waynes and Slam Bradley alike. Continuing the theme you would expect, Slam seems to be the brunt of everyone’s misfortunes with Gotham City: Year One #2 finally boiling over to its tipping point.
King knows all the tropes and flushes them all out in this week’s Gotham City: Year One #2. Readers get the struggle to track down the perp, the femme fatale, and the almost pulpy story reminiscent of a mix between The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. And if I’m being honest, King is extremely prone to “borrowing” ideas (I use loosely) from other narratives. Now, this all might come across as bad, however, with almost no story like this on the market right now, I still find myself attracted to this tale. The only real problem in this week’s Gotham City: Year One #2 is the lack of new information.
Readers, King really didn’t advance the story or give any big clues unless the cemetery tombstone of an Owl is supposed to lead readers to believe the original Waynes created the Court of Owls. If that’s the deeper underlying story, I’d love to see that flushed out. Nevertheless, as fantastic a take as that would be, King provides no real evidence for that perspective nor does he give readers any real bones to chew on this issue. Sure, he hits the tropes this week but doesn’t really progress his own story much at all. It’s almost as if Gotham City: Year One #2 could be skipped diving right into Gotham City: Year One #3 and not missing a bit along with a sentence summary of events from issue two.
Phil Hester nails the classic noir style perfectly! He compiles what appear to be bottomless shadows and even darker tones that replicate a sense of erred fantasy, suspicious characters, desire, and histrionic lighting. Sure, this era is a pulp fade, but a classic that Hester has modified to make his own by finding ways to brighten up his own version with a classic twist. Silhouettes, dramatic scenes, and cool coloring make Gotham City: Year One #2 easy on the eyes and almost seductive in nature.
Tom King’s Gotham City: Year One #2 kind of goes… nowhere. Now, I know how that sounds. It sounds like a dud. However, that’s not entirely the case at all. The thematically charged elements, tone, and style of the gritty, classic noir, crime narrative are perfect. The art, led by Phil Hester, leans heavily on those classic characteristics as well fortifying that grim, urban setting. Nevertheless, the story beats were a bit flat and very few reveals complicated the issue. No new information about the Waynes, the kidnappers, or even Slam Bradley really transpired.
So, where does that put this reviewer? Easy. I can give King credit for telling a solid story reminiscent of a classic era. However, I can also juxtaposition that same thematic gem alongside some rock-solid renderings even though the story beats were a bit dull, if not flat. Being two issues in, I’m still all in on Gotham City: Year One and I’m willing to provide King a bit of grace this week. Nevertheless, the leash isn’t so long anymore and I hope he gives us some fortifying reveals soon or else we may have to call it quits. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!