Detective #1 is the other comic where the renumbering really bothers me. Action was the first, but this one is just as bad. I don’t like it when companies with long histories throw that history away so they can seem new.
I’m thinking Batman is going to be the comic where Batman’s reboot begins, this one seems more like the reboot for the Joker. From the opening narrative, both the Joker and the Batman have been around for at least 6 years by the beginning of this series and the Joker seems to not have been caught yet by this part of the reboot.
He has 114 murders that Batman attributes to him over those 6 years, which seems low for this character, but they may be starting slow, like they have with other characters, and intend to build from there. It is easier to increase the horror of a villain if you don’t start too intensely. I say it doesn’t seem as though he’s been caught yet because when Batman does catch him in this issue, there are two events that imply this is the Joker’s first time as the Joker in the system.
One is that he’s let himself be caught and it is phrased in such a way to imply it hasn’t happened before, the other is a discussion at Arkham about where the proper place for the Joker is: Arkham or Blackgate, it hasn’t been established by previous incarcerations. They seem to have a big reboot planned for the Joker as the entire issue seems set up to change his iconic appearance. The Joker’s moves throughout the comic set up his arrival at Arkham for the purpose of changing his identity, including having another insane criminal remove the Joker’s face at the end of this first issue. It seems odd that their first action with this well established character is to make him less identifiable, I’ll have to see where they’re going with this before I can decide if I like it or not. Maybe they want to make him less cartoonish, maybe they think his appearance is too dates. Either way, they’ll have to be careful in the way they handle it. Likely the worst think they could do is change his appearance, only to have it revert to the classic appearance after a short time, that’d seem too much like a cop out.
We also get a taste of Batman’s relationship with Gotham’s police at whatever point this is in his career. He knows Jim Gordon and they work well together, but even though Jim has the Bat-Signal, the rest of the force apparently doesn’t like Batman. In fact, Jim may be sticking his neck out by associating with Batman, but then again he does have the Bat-Signal on the roof of the police station.
We also get our first glimpse of Alfred and there’s little rebooting to the character’s origins here. The Alfred we see is the hyper-competent, technologically savvy Alfred. I’m hoping he still has a background in the British military or secret service. We’ll have to wait for that though. There’s also a line that implied Bruce and Selena or Batman and Catwoman already have a complicated relationship, but that could be a bit of misdirection. I’d be surprised if the Batman title or another Batman title doesn’t start at the beginning of his career the way Action is doing with Superman. They love origin stories and the chance to re-tell Batman’s plus those of all his enemies seems too much to pass up.