SYNOPSIS: Slam Bradley has been one step behind the kidnappers the entire time…can he turn the tables in time to save the infant heiress to the Wayne fortune? Is this hardened private investigator prepared to deal with a dark, deadly twist that will define Gotham City for generations to come?
How exactly did Sam Bradley become “Slam” Bradley? Tom King’s gotcher answer right here!
In a brutal opening, one of Gotham’s “Finest” is ruthlessly interrogating a man. The coloring in this flashback immediately reminded me of the Rucka/Martinbrough era of Detective Comics that started off in issue #742, setting itself away from the pack with its distinctive color palette. Red is a fitting choice here, as it winds up being the only color Slam sees by the end of the scene!
Back in the present day, the following setting is as hard-boiled as you can get. Slam, unsuccessful and haunted by his case, heads home in the pouring rain. He fitfully tries to sleep, knocking back a few shots in a vain attempt to help with that, but the image of an innocently sleeping Helen Wayne haunts him. Despite its bleakness, if you love this kind of material, it’s a lot of fun. Hester sells it so well! The Owl image adorning Helen’s blanket seems to be an allusion to the Court of Owls having a grip on the young Wayne. Or maybe I’m reaching…
Constance Wayne channels her inner femme fatale as she recruits Slam in secret apart from her husband. The film noir vibes grow even stronger as Slam takes this new aspect of the case on, getting deeper into the seedy underbelly of Gotham. It’s in stark contrast to the Rockwellian city that was presented in the first issue, but this Gotham was always there, bathed in various shades of neon.
As this installment reaches its climax, King pours on the tension with an action scene between Slam and Helen’s potential kidnapper. I was riveted as Slam made his way to a child’s cries. And then when we get there, that’s when King decks you with a right cross, followed by a swift left hook that takes the reader down. The splash page that Hester hits you with is devastating, even more so knowing the next issue is a month away.
Sometimes a Tom King story takes me a reread (or two) to get into it. This isn’t one of those instances. For three issues now this has been a consistently enjoyable read, worthy of the cachet that the “Year One” moniker brings with it. Hester, whose style has always reminded me of one befitting Batman: The Animated Series, is killing it on this book. Somehow, he is just the perfect fit. Gapstur’s inks are perfectly complementary and Jordie Bellaire sets the mood brilliantly with her colors. While the art would look fantastic in black and white, her work is invaluable to this issue and she gives it life!
Gotham City: Year One has already risen to one of the top DC books of 2022 for me! Make sure you don’t miss it! – Javier E. Trujillo