SYNOPSIS: Bruce Wayne’s mission as the Batman has only been underway for a year or so, but he can tell he’s making a difference. Unfortunately, he’s made some powerful enemies. All the traditional power brokers of Gotham resent the disruption the Batman has brought to town…and it seems one of them has a plan to neutralize him. There’s a second Batman haunting Gotham’s rooftops and alleys-and this one has no qualms about murdering criminals, live and on tape. With the entire might of the Gotham City Police Department and Gotham’s rich and powerful coming down on his head, Batman must find this imposter and somehow clear his name…but how can you prove your innocence from behind a mask? Director and screenwriter Mattson Tomlin (Project Power, Little Fish) has teamed up with Eisner-winning suspense and horror artist Andrea Sorrentino (Joker: Killer Smile, Gideon Falls) to create a wholly new version of Gotham City, informed by grim reality, where every punch leaves a broken bone and every action has consequences far, far beyond Batman’s imagination!
While we are just under five months away from THE BATMAN hitting theaters, we may have our first glimpse of that world with the latest comic book release, BATMAN: THE IMPOSTER. Just look at the cover (specifically Lee Bermejo’s variant), and you can see the resemblance of Robert Pattinson’s Dark Knight. Add to it now author Mattson Tomlin, who worked with Reeves on the upcoming movie.
Open the issue and it gets even more evident.
In a nutshell, Batman arrives in the home of Leslie Thompkins, who discovers Bruce Wayne is the man behind the mask. She makes a deal with him; report to her every morning for therapy or she’ll report him to the police. Meanwhile, GCPD Detective Wong is three years deep into the Batman case and is starting to put the pieces together. On top of all of this, there’s an imposter afoot, dressing up as the Batman himself. And he’s a killer.
On the surface, BATMAN: THE IMPOSTER may not seem like such an original idea. But when you get into the book, Tomlin is crafting a really interesting story for our hero. Bruce has three major hurdles to clear (Thompkins, Wong, Imposter), and they’re all getting steeper. I love the dramatic weight Tomlin puts on the lead character, while also being patient. The seeds are planted and are definitely sprouting in a grim, grimy Gotham City that’s reminiscent of a gritty 70’s crime story. I appreciated the realistic approach to this version, as well as the fun nods and introductions added throughout.
Speaking of Gotham City, artist Andrea Sorrentino does exceptional work in this lengthy first issue. I really loved looking at his layouts, which felt very J.H. Williams III. Then his characters and street-level scenes seemed very Sean Phillips. Both of these comparisons are compliments, by the way. We’ve heard THE BATMAN had CHINATOWN as an influence, and this is the illustrated version. Perfect.
Overall, BATMAN: THE IMPOSTER #1 is a grounded, gritty story with a lot of depth and fantastic art. It’s about as realistic of a Batman take as I’ve seen in quite some time. Tomlin and Sorrentino complement each other well, serving an interesting and satisfying comic book dish.
If this is an appetizer for THE BATMAN, just imagine the main dish. – Ryan Lower
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