Monday, August 5, 2013

I Reads You Review: BATMAN: Li’l Gotham #2


WRITERS: Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
ART/COVER: Dustin Nguyen
LETTERS: Saida Temofonte
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (July 2013)

Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger

Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was a critical and sales success, likely even beyond what anyone expected.  In response, DC Comics, in what can only be described as an unleashing, started releasing Batman publications that ran the gamut from new ongoing comic book series and miniseries to original graphics novels and special editions.  It also seemed as if anything about Batman that had once been fit to print was fit to be reprinted – sometimes in cheap editions and other times in expensive hardcover books and archival editions.

The year 1988 saw the publication of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s one-shot comic book/graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke, and also the formal announcement of a Batman movie scheduled to be released during the summer of 1989.  After that, DC Comics literally flooded the market with Batman publications, apparel, and assorted merchandise.  With limited capital, comic book shops chose Batman, but to do so, many apparently cut orders elsewhere.  In my experience, that elsewhere turned out to be fewer orders of comic books from independent, alternative, and small press publishers.

Fantagraphics Books co-publisher Gary Groth described, in The Comics Journal, all the Batman products as “bat guano.”  If I remember correctly, Groth wasn’t calling this Batman stuff “crap,” because it was necessarily awful in terms of quality.  Perhaps, he meant “crap,” as in “Look, at all this shit!”


Batman: Li’l Gotham is another of DC Comics’ digital-first comics (read using an app on a PC, smart phone, tablet, or other hand-held device).  The series features diminutive or child-like versions of characters from the world of Batman comic books.

Batman: Li’l Gotham #2 collects Chapters 3 and 4 of the series.  The first story (Chapter 3) takes place during the Christmas season.  Batman and Nightwing team-up (1) to stop a well-intentioned, but misguided plot by Mr. Freeze and (2) to find the missing children’s choir of Saint Peter Academy.

Chapter 4 stars the Gotham City Sirens:  Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy.  After a rendezvous with Batman, Catwoman-Selina Kyle is ready to sit back and relax on New Year’s Eve.  Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, however, insist that Selina Kyle join them on a crime spree – that will be for the benefit of man and beast, of course.

Pretty art, pretty weird.  That’s the best way that I can describe what I read in Batman: Li’l Gotham #2.  Chapter 3 pulls off the unusual hat trick of being poignant, creepy, and well-intentioned.  I can’t figure out what is the intended audience for this story (or comic book).  Chapter 4 is just lame.

Co-writer and artist Dustin Nguyen pulls off the cute with his “chibi” versions of Batman characters.  But is this a kid’s comic book or just another way for DC Comics to exploit Batman and take cash from their suckas... I mean, customers?

I think there have been four issues of Batman: Li’l Gotham published as of this writing, and maybe, I would like them more than I do #2 if I had the chance to read them.  But either way, Batman: Li’l Gotham seems more Bat-crap – more Bat-guano.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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