Four out of five stars
(Received from Netgalley for review.)
This is going to be a little different from my normal reviews of comic collections, because this isn’t a normal collection. Young Gotham Sampler is, as far as I can tell, a Netgalley-only sampling of three new/relaunched Gotham-based books, Grayson, Batgirl, and Gotham Academy. The collection includes only the #1 issue for each series, which is just enough for a teaser. I’m sure the point was to raise interest in these books. And for me, it worked.
Grayson is kind of the sequel series to Nightwing, and follows Dick Grayson in his new life as spy. It’s a very different take on the character, and on paper, I wasn’t entirely convinced it was a great idea. It’s actually kind of an amazing idea. Dick’s skill set and experience make him a talented spy. As far as I can tell, the story in this issue is essentially a stand alone mission, which I appreciated. The action is good, and the ending wasn’t something that I expected. Plus, Helena Bertinelli (Huntress) shows up at the end, and that’s always exciting for me.
Batgirl is more of a soft relaunch. While the book isn’t resetting at #1 (this is actually #35), it’s still very much a new beginning (when collected as a trade, this will be the start of a new vol. 1). In comparison to Grayson, and especially in comparison with Gail Simone’s run on the book, parts of this issue felt kind of clunky. It just isn’t as polished. And the tone is very different. It feels like Babs got at least five years younger overnight, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I will say that I’m not happy that it looks like her friendship with Alysia is going to be shoved to the sidelines. That said, the scene showing Babs literally walking back through her own photographic memory is kind of cool.
Gotham Academy is the outsider in the collection. Set at a ritzy, but creepy, boarding school, Gotham Academy stars normal teenagers. Or at least they seem normal. But this is Gotham, after all, so who knows? This book gave me a very manga vibe, because of the art style, the choice of setting and characters, and even the use of screentones for the plaid in the school uniform. For me, that’s a really good thing. I had no idea what to expect out of this book, and honestly, I’m still not sure exactly where they’re going here, but I am interested.
As a whole, this sampler did exactly what it set out to do. After reading this, I added all three of these books’ first collections to my To Be Read list. I’m excited about reading Grayson and especially Gotham Academy, and while I’m not entirely sold on the new take on Batgirl, I’m at least interested enough to give it a shot. Mission accomplished, DC.