So after just doing a review for the Batman Arkham City comic books I am back into the pool and reviewing the first annual of the Batman Rebirth series and I got to say in advanced I think that it is an okay comic. It’s a comic that is made up of a collection of different stories written and drawn by different creative teams such as Scott Synder and Paul Dini and I do find some of the issues to be rather good but some not that much.
The first story is called Good Boy, written by Tom King the current writer for the main Batman series. It features the story of how Bruce and Alfred got Ace and it is a rather sad story and has a really warming outcome. It is also a story that has a lot of time jumping but for this it makes more sense. The issue starts out at September 2nd seeing a dog with a Ace of Spades mask biting Batman in the neck and then it cuts straight over to September 23rd where Commissioner Gordon informs to Batman that Joker had ditched the dogs in a ditch and it turns out that Ace had killed the other dogs since that it also looked like that Ace was under the influence and Gordon making a really bad joke saying ‘Aces high, ha ha ha’. Two days later Alfred is seen at the Gotham Pound where Ace is at and the assistant at the pound saying that Ace isn’t fir for anything but dying; we also discover that Ace is also a female dog. Alfred tells the assistant that after he cashes the check that he wants the building to be rechristened the Martha and Thomas Wayne Humane Society and Alfred takes Ace home. The next day Bruce discovers that Alfred has brought Ace home and it seems that Bruce and Ace seem to boot heads. Over the span of a couple of months we see Alfred training Ace with Batman in the back going over the different cases that he has had including Penguin, Two-Face and Riddler. By the time that December came through with Bruce telling Alfred that what his is doing hasn’t worked and something that makes me scratch my head in a way since I think the editor made massive screw up since that now Bruce and Alfred are saying that Ace in fact a male dog and not a female like the assistant at the pound did. Nevertheless it was then revealed that Ace is actually leaned from Alfred. A few days later Batman returns to the Batcave with Batman pulling a knife out of his arm with Ace running up to Batman with him now accepting Ace since that Ace showed concern for him. On Christmas Day Bruce gives Ace a Batman mask that he puts on Ace with Bruce asking if he want to be a Bat-Hound. Bruce asks Alfred why he didn’t get a gift from Alfred with Alfred saying that he had been preoccupied with training Ace. But Bruce says he has everything that he wants. This is a really good mini issue minus the hiccup in Ace’s gender and it has a really good ending.
Issue two is written by one of favourite Batman writers Scott Snyder. This story opens up with Batman narrating about Gotham City noting the residents and the fact that every 5.6 seconds there is an emergency call. It then goes down to Batman surrounded by three suspects on the snow covered ground with a car burning in the background. Batman then goes on to say that there aren’t any silent nights in Gotham and that he uses an algorithm to help narrow down serious crimes that the GCPD might not be able to deal with. We then cut over to a area in Gotham called Champion Square, where there is a diner that looks rather similar to the one at the beginning of Arkham Knight, where there are people dressed in red coats. Alfred is talking to Batman when Batman interrupts him saying that the system alerted him to a possible terrorist at Champion Square. Two on the people in red coats disrobe showing them in black leotards and they climb up a statue in the square with on-lookers curios on what they are doing with them back diving off the top of said statue. Batman narrates saying that every prisoner in Arkham and Blackgate were accounted for, usual suspects are all in their hidey-holes and that Champion Square is a neutral ground for gangs in the city. Batman arrives at the scene and sees what is going on and notes that the system has went quiet with the crowd watching the performers. Batman asks Alfred if there was anything heard from the system with Alfred replying that the system was working fine and that he should enjoy the brief pauses in battle before the last bombardment resumes. Batman goes on to enjoy the show and smiles. We then see the performers finish and a person going up to them with money but they refuse to take the money. Batman gets a ping from the system and it turns out to be automatic fire with also a question mark leading to the Riddler being behind it and Batman goes on his pursuit. This is a really good short story.
The third part of the annual is a called The Not So Silent Night of the Harley Quinn and is written by Quinn’s creator Paul Dini. It begins with Harley Quinn breaking into a building that seems to be a police station and tries to break in but is interrupted by Batman. Harley pleads with explains herself to Batman about what she was doing and that she was trying to make amends with Gordon and the cops and that she has changed and that people look up to her as a role model. Batman says that he is going to continue his patrol and then drop Harley off at the city limits or Arkham with Harley accepting his proposal. Harley then decides to put on some Christmas music with Batman saying that it’s not that kind of radio so Harley decides to sing instead and starts to sing Jingle Bells rendition that Joker in the animated series and Bart Simpson sang during opening of the first episode of The Simpsons. Harley then starts singing another song with Batman looking out of a window and then cutting over to two kids, one with a Harley Quinn inspired costume, heading over to toys for tykes drop off point. Those kids are then set on by a group of kids taking toys from the drop off point and the kid falls into a present that reveals a Harley Quinn bat and he then goes to town on the kids and they run off. We the cut back to Batman and Harley with Harley now singing jingle bells to tune of barks and then cuts over to a guy loses his dog and it heads out into traffic but a person with a hot dog cart runs into the traffic to save the dog and she manages to save the dog whilst the owner of the hot dog cart and the taxi driver get into an argument. The next cutover goes over to a woman leaving her possible boyfriends place with him following her and gets caught in a group of Harley Quinn performers with then the girlfriend whacking him in the face with the case she carries and then sees a parade commencing. Cutting back to the Batmobile Harley is singing ‘Deck the Halls’ and Batman finishes the line and Harley calls out Batman that he does sing songs. Batman tells Harley that it is time to go but she is disappointed that they never got to beat somebody up but Batman replies that Gotham is unusually quiet tonight. Harley believes that she is the reason why it has been rather quiet and Batman drops Harley off but she thinks that it’s in the boonies but it turns out that he actually took her home. Harley then celebrates with her friends and Poison Ivy and they start carolling. This is another good issues and this one focus more around the artwork and the story telling from there.
The fourth story called Stag starts off with Bruce Wayne introducing Barry O’Neil, a billionaire who built a winter wonderland for the youths of Gotham City and that he has pledged to donate all of his money to the charity with the dream to die penniless so that others don’t have to. Barry O’Neil begins to talk but then is interrupted by a ice based villain crashing through riding on a giant bull saying that O’Neil had mocked his life. O’Neil says that the person is called Minister Blizzard and that he has been sending him letters but he didn’t think it was serious. Gordon says that he is going to get the kids out of here and says for O’Neil and Bruce to get out but Bruce has already went to suit up. Blizzard monologues that he had dedicated himself to restoring the Ice Age (insert your own Batman and Robin joke here). Blizzard then goes on to say that O’Neil’s winter world insults him and goes on a crazy tangent and asking for blood where a bat-line shoots off where Batman glide kicks Blizzard in the back of the head shutting him up. Batman flies off and Gordon asks O’Neil about Blizzard. O’Neil explains that Blizzard was a Prime Minister from an ice kingdom. Gordon then tells him that all Gordon knows that Blizzard was from Bayonne and that O’Neil should have told GCPD about the letters. Cutting over to Wayne Manor, Bruce is sitting in the library, where I think Bruce came up with being Batman, when Duke comes in wondering what’s up with him, giving him a chocolate coin that Alfred made that Kate wanted made. Bruce exposits more about O’Neil to Duke saying that he has been working to make Gotham better for longer than Bruce has been alive and also that he was a idol to his mother. He rebuilt Gotham Village twice and that he made miracles for generations of Gotham’s youths. He then says that he can deal with villains like Blizzard but he can’t save them from everything and that someday something comes for all of us and even the best of us. This is also cut over to O’Neil going back into his apartment where he is killed by an assailant saying ‘I am an honest signal’ with the last box saying ‘End? The Stag is coming 2017…’ I love seeing teases for this in annuals and I am looking forward to see what they are going to do with this after I Am Suicide is over and done with.
The final story begins with Batman narrating that he smells gingerbread and that his is six years old on Christmas Eve and feels anxious. He then says that a new psychologist at Arkham came up with an idea to have a good behaviour holiday party for inmates. Batman is in a safe house picking up a gas mask as a gas has spread throughout a portion of Gotham and is having an effect on the people. Meanwhile in Arkham, Haunter is gives small gifts to the different inmates and Batman realises that the gas is fear gas. Back at Arkham Haunter tells Jervis that she made the gifts out of her medicine and that she had taught herself the art of selective digestion and that she is leaving tonight. Batman determines that the gas isn’t pungent enough to send Gotham into a spiralling chaos and he has the Batmobile set to jam the drones dispersing the gas. In Arkham, Haunter starts her escape plan and goes through the guards plus possibly killing a guard in the process. Batman thinks that this is a dry run for a deadlier attack or a distraction and he heads off to Arkham. Haunter is now outside of Arkham and finds a hidden stash of clothes that she changes into. Batman arrives at Arkham and tells that Haunter can kill people just by using their DNA, skin cells and hair. Batman put her in Arkham ages ago since that she had killed six people but there could have been more and also that she is friends with Scarecrow. Haunter heads off to a small hut in what looks like a park and she finds Scarecrow there telling her that Batman could be here soon and he does by crashing into the back of the hut. Apparently Haunter managed to get a fingernail and she apparently states that she had killed Batman. Batman then tells her that he had taken precautions with her abilities and that he also apparently got them him a nerve toxin that was made from the fear toxin. He then tells them that the toxin lasts for a few hours and he most likely ended up taking them back to Arkham.
That is the end of the first Batman Annual and I got to say I did rather enjoy it and also it does seem that all the stories were well told, maybe with exception of the final story since the ending seemed really rushed. But with it being made up of multiple stories I really don’t blame them for the rushed ending. The artwork for all of them is really good and it gives them a different feel for each of the issues too. Overall my favourite story from it is a tie between the origins of Ace (minus the editorial hiccup with gender) and Scott Snyder’s story since that it does seem rather similar to Batman #51 which was Snyder’s last issue when he wrote Batman’s main series. Overall it is a good read and it does get me in the Christmas mood.