Writer: Tom King
Art: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 28th, 2023
The brutal, bloody conclusion to the year’s most acclaimed title is here in this week’s Gotham City: Year One #6 by Tom King. Slam Bradley has never feared walking the hard path alone, but even his courage will be tested by the shocking turn of events that will take Gotham City down a dark, violent path.
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Readers get a backstory on Slam Bradley as the finale of Gotham City: Year One comes to a close. We find out a bit more about his upbringing, his ethnicity, his lifestyle, why he became a Detective, what his motivations are, and how the puzzle pieces of this character fit strategically together. And along the way, fans will get a few eye-openers and jaw-dropping reveals.
Moreover, the art team provides fans with a nice play-by-play to showcase Slam coming to terms with the narrative. The colors express his rage and anger well while the drop out of backgrounds and heavy inks harness the era and style masterfully. King has finally got us all caught up on the how, when, and why of the story as Gotham City: Year One #6 comes to a wrap… to a degree.
We learn about the Bat Cave before it was the Bat Cave, what it was used for, and the sick twisted connection to “trophies” like Batman even has today. It’s a clever wrinkle to connect the Wayne generations, however, it certainly promotes a stench to the Wayne Legacy that may tarnish how fans have always viewed the Wayne’s. The chickens are coming home to roost Bobby Boucher! And fans will see some sides of the Wayne’s they will never forget.
Nevertheless, things get weirder and weirder as we watch prominent narrative figures die by surprise characters and murderous exchanges revealed with implications that everyone involved has a dirty little secret. Yet the story takes such a sad twist as we find out the fate of Helen and what transpired in the death and neglect. To any parent out there, it will certainly leave a pit in your stomach after reading it. King nails the emotional moment well that only a parent could truly feel as they read the fate of Helen Wayne.
Gotham City: Year One #6 ends this series by giving fans all the answers they were searching for from day one… except two. Why did we need this story? And, what does it necessarily have to do with Batman? Gotham City: Year One is a great story that provides some unique spin and history on the Wayne’s and Gotham itself. Better yet, the web of history that intertwines the Wayne’s to even Ace Chemical and a bunch of other sleight-of-hand maneuvers by King was an extremely nice touch that laces some in-depth history to Gotham and the Wayne’s. However, the expectation was for the plane to land firm on some type of connection and purpose to Batman. However, we don’t… except for one little wrinkle. Now, maybe I missed this somewhere. But, after all of this, Thomas Wayne was born. Was Thomas the son of Slam after his “encounter” with Mrs. Wayne? Or, was Thomas actually Richard’s son? And if so, was that the point of emphasis at the beginning of Gotham City: Year One #6 about Slam’s ethnicity?
That would make Batman at the end of the issue saying goodbye to his Grandfather which would make more sense as to why Slam is telling Batman this story, why he would want to tell him this story, and how he figured out everything about Batman’s identity. And as cool as this is, this would be the fatal flaw of the series, as well as King’s writing overall. Instead of trying to be cryptic and clever, just come right out and tell us. If Slam is Bruce’s Grandfather, so be it. Additionally, if that also means that down Bruce’s family tree, he just so happens to have a different race or ethnicity in his genes, that’s totally ok too. But was that the point of this story? If the premise of Gotham City: Year One was to change Bruce’s family tree, then all I can say is… why? And ultimately, that’s why this story lands flat. The purpose and intent get lost in what began as a fantastic story which oftentimes appears to be King’s M.O.