This first issue of Batman: Year 100 is an all-action issue. It’s the future, so people can get around pretty quickly, including federal cops flying around in, I don’t know, hovercraft. Helicopter cabins without rotors or skids. But the future’s also got its low-tech; the first sequence has a pack of police dogs chasing “The Bat-Man of Gotham” across the rooftops. They’ve got retina cameras to make them futuristic, but initially, it’s just a dog pack chasing the vigilante scene.
Actually, it’s too bad creator Paul Pope doesn’t show how the dogs operate on the rooftops. I’m sure it’d be awesome.
Because even though there’s minimal story, barely any characters, and the most writing comes in the opening and closing “news” briefs (courtesy future Reuters) on the front and back inside covers, Batman: Year 100 is divine. It’s forty-eight pages of detailed, thoughtful, exuberant Pope art. Who cares what it’s about.
The issue sets up Bat-Man a little; he’s been in Gotham long enough to make an ally with the police coroner, but copper Jim Gordon doesn’t know anything about him. The comic’s set in 2039 (a hundred years after Detective Comics #27), and the previous century’s Bat-Man has become an urban legend. No one even believes the new one exists until he gets caught on the various cameras; a federal police officer has been killed, and Bat-Man is the prime suspect.
The comic does get to the investigation. It starts with the dog chase, then a people chase as the federal cops descend on a Gotham building, and cuts to the federal cops in Washington having a slightly comedic bicker session, freaking out about the situation. Lots of great expressions from Pope in that scene. It ends with a special cop being called in, Tibble. That special cop doesn’t hunt Bat-Man yet; he just gives Gordon shit because jurisdiction tropes.
So Pope is, you know, building a narrative. It just doesn’t matter as much as the action. The comic’s about the rush of reading it, of experiencing the movement in Pope’s panels as the Bat-Man and the story hurl forward. Like the opening chase sequences, the issue’s a race, with Pope trying to maintain momentum until the last panel.
I read Year 100 when it came out and remember it being a disappointment overall, but damn if this issue isn’t a thrill.
Oh, and the José Villarrubia colors are gorgeous. The whole thing’s gorgeous.