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Gotham City: Year One (2022-) #1

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It’s a trip to the past that earnestly tries to tackle themes like segregation and child kidnapping without a superhero spin. It’s difficult to say at this point whether the extended introduction will be worth it, but the hooks are enough to make you want to come back to learn more. Divorcing his wife, orchestrating his daughter's kidnapping, and his affair with Queenie are actions he takes to regain control. Questions/Spoilers - This is just speculation and it doesn't matter much either way but was Slam Bradley previously described as half black?

Two generations before Batman, private investigator Slam Bradley gets tangled in the kidnapping of the century as the infant Wayne heir disappears in the night and so begins a brutal, hard-boiled, epic tale of a man living on the edge and a city about to burn. No longer was the slaying of Thomas and Martha that one fateful night in Crime Alley the crisis point which created the Gotham we all know. Just an exhibition of suffering and the worst of human nature, followed by "And isn't that fucked up?Slam Bradley is a PI hired to deliver a letter to Richard Wayne, only to wind up as the Wayne's bagman when it turns out their baby daughter Helen, aka the Princess of Gotham, is kidnaped. On the other hand, it *is* a noir story filled with the tropes and trappings that sometimes plagued the genres in frustrating ways that make stuff like the social commentary fall a bit flat. It seems like Tom King introduced a new piece of lore about Slam Bradley's race, because when I look it up it's exclusively mentioned in discussions of this comic. I was appreciative of the new idea, but still somewhat felt a bit like it retconned the whole Batman history.

Whilst much of the narrative and the art works, some parts do become a little bore and chore before it manages to pick itself back up. One fine day, a fast-talking dame walks into his office and hires him to personally deliver a letter to Richard Wayne and his wife, Constance. There are also some very cringey foreshadowing/easter eggs/winks to the reader that again feel incredibly forced: “bat-man,” Richard Wayne’s “cherry cave,” crime alley, and more. You’re offering a new interpretation of the characters, but the baggage of what those characters represent is still there. Two generations before Batman, private investigator Slam Bradley gets tangled in the "kidnapping of the century" as the infant Wayne heir disappears in the night.If the premise of Gotham City: Year One was to change Bruce's family tree, then all I can say is why? All of the cards have been laid on the table, and Richard Wayne’s conspiracy to steal his own wife’s money has left a wake of destruction across the entire city. Richard's overt racism and disinterest in the effect his building would have gives South Gotham reason to force his hand. I didn't love this book, it's not the be all end all, but the quality cannot be denied, and when King plays to his strengths it works out well for everyone.

Don't worry though, because if that bothers you like it bothered me, it'll go away by 3rd issue at the most. Witness a pre-Batman Gotham, where everyone has secrets and the seediness that has been festering in the shadows of the city are brought to the surface, in pure Tom King-style.I've always liked the Slam Bradley character and this one does him justice, even with his sins on full display. But I hate that it comes at the expense of a broader point that I can ascertain and get behind, with characters that I've seen a million times.

However, if this whole first issue is just the opening scenes the story, then it becomes far more appropriate and fits within the overall style that King is going for. I'm honored to play a small part in bringing Siegel and Shuster's landmark creation to a new audience, and in giving one of DC's oldest legends the white-hot spotlight he deserves. The opening’s brutality is visceral, as Slam’s narration about how he mostly just took whatever path in life was simplest is contrasted with bloodshed and violence.

After Constance tells Sam what happened, she turns and shoots Richard in the head, killing him instantly. As the world falls apart around him, Slam must decide between justice and revenge–a choice that will echo down the generations and redefine both Gotham and Batman! Private Investigator Sam "Slam" Bradley discovers that the perpetrator of Helen's kidnap isn't a disaffected South Gotham resident, as everyone assumed, but someone inside Wayne Manor. Here at its final moments, she manages to calmly control the conversation even while Slam and Richard struggle over a gun. True to form, King does what King does best when he's blatantly copying other stories or real-world incidents, and this first issue is no exception.

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