THE BAT-MAN: FIRST KNIGHT #3 Review

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SYNOPSIS: As the Voice’s grip on Gotham tightens, Jim Gordon doesn’t know whom he can trust. With monstrous beasts threatening the city, he turns to the Bat-Man for help, but to truly stop this reign of terror, playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne will step in to help guide the investigation. It all leads to a heart-pounding conclusion that will set Gotham ablaze!

Eschewing the fictionalized headlines that provide context to the world we are entering, Jurgens instead opts to dive right into the story, showing that The Voice’s back is about to be up against the wall, causing him to angrily move up his plans. I love how the art on the page draws you into the scene but still keeps the noir aspect by leaving The Voice a mystery…for now.

Shifting to Batman back at Wayne Manor, we see a somewhat familiar scene-Batman holding a gun in front of his parents’ portrait. While this again echoes Batman: Year Two, the addition of the sultry Julie Madison changes the dynamic considerably, offering a counterpoint to the advice The Bat-Man got in the last issue. Similar to Robert Pattinson’s portrayal, this Bruce is isolated, only concerned with his mission, with his environment in such disrepair that Julie can let herself in.

If the past example from his father wasn’t enough, Julie speaks from the present to confirm Bruce’s true course, a vital aspect to consider when we reach the story’s conclusion. She also gives Bruce someone to bounce off of, letting the audience know his findings and plan. I enjoy her portrayal in this. She’s smart, capable, nigh-unflappable, and brings out the humanity in Bruce. Pretty good given that her original appearances didn’t allow for much characterization given the storytelling style of the day!

We once again get treated to Playboy Bruce Wayne as he visits the hospital under the guise of a slight shoulder injury, allowing him to keep tabs on the incapacitated Johnny The Whip. The stench of Gotham’s corruption permeates the scene as several other officials chat with Gordon as to The Whip’s fate. It’s an excellent scene by Jurgens with the body language of Bruce by Perkins as a highlight, particularly that final panel in the closing elevator.

As night falls, the fog helps set the scene and establish some drama and moodiness for the climax. Jurgens brings together all the elements with aplomb, tying in the socio-political aspects in unexpected ways. No character goes to waste and each gets their moment. This is a master at work.

Speaking of masters, if Perkins wasn’t on the map before, he is now! The Black Label Prestige Plus format gives him an expansive canvas to work with and when The Bat-Man makes his grand entrance at Blackgate in a splash page the audience is treated to an ethereal and haunting image of Justice about to be meted out!

The finale is a grand one, sweeping over all Gotham. There are a few homages being paid to early Batman tales…and maybe a more modern one? There are plenty of thrills to be found and copious amounts of Batman panels to drool over, along with a few surprises.

I’m eager to hear the feedback from fans regarding the denouement. There is going to be a debate about it, one I won’t spoil here, but the storytelling leaves it open to interpretation. Perhaps a podcast is in order?

The Bat-Man: First Knight is an instant classic, worthy of your Bat-bookshelf. As we celebrate The Dark Knight’s eighty-fifth anniversary all year long, what better way than by revisiting the era of his birth? Jurgens and Perkins, along with the brilliant colors of Mike Spicer and lettering of Simon Bowland, turn a modern lens to a bygone era, delivering a tale for the ages, filled with action, suspense, romance, and surprises, definitely leaving you eager for further tales in this setting. What more could you want from a comic book? Javier E. Trujillo

GRADE: A+

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Javier Trujillo
Javier E. Trujillo was a Batman fan long before the 1989 blockbuster opened on his 12th birthday. After following BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM -- the "Dad-Gum Original" -- since its inception, he started to write for BoF in 2019, covering Batman's 80th anniversary. He's a lover of all eras and aspects of The Dark Knight, but artist Jim Aparo will always be how he pictures him. When on the internet, odds are it's because he's talking about Batman or James Bond (or MAYBE Wally West). He resides in the "Live Music Capital of the World" (and also the genesis of Adam West's Bat-Boat), Austin, TX. You can follow him on Twitter @JaviTru or on Instagram @TheBondIsNotEnough.