About a third of this issue is talking heads. First, it’s unnamed Batman 2039 and his team—including a new Robin, who starts the issue working on a bitchin’ motorcycle for Bats—talking through what led up to last issue’s issue-long chase sequence, and then it’s cop Gordon and his gang looking through the archives for information on “The Bat-Man.”
Both sequences are strange, though for different reasons. The Batman one because creator Paul Pope is trying to avoid doing any character introductions and instead focus on their conversation about the dead cop and Batman’s inability to remember enough details. It’s a briefing with occasional personality (usually from Robin 2039). It’s not interesting, but it’s also not grating like Gordon’s sequence.
So the Gordon sequence. They’re going through the archives—remember, last issue, no one had any idea there was a “Bat-Man” a hundred years ago, and even the modern incarnation was a surprise to Gordon. In Year 100 continuity… Detective Comics #27 is in continuity, something something something in the sixties in continuity, The Dark Knight Returns is in glowing continuity. Then maybe something from Dark Knight Strikes Back. I didn’t read Strikes Back so I don’t know if it’s what Pope’s talking about. The most attention goes to the DKR stuff, which means in Year 100 continuity, Batman in Dark Knight was at least seventy, not fifty-five or whatever. Also, Zorro would be out.
It’d be better if Pope weren’t just overtly winking and nodding to Frank Miller. But, it still wouldn’t be good. No one knows about there being a Batman in Gotham City for eighty years because the records were destroyed. It also means no one in Gotham in 2039 remembers anything from twenty years before. Seems like mass amnesia would have more repercussions.
The other two-thirds of the comic are action procedural. Gordon goes to the crime scene to see what the federal cops are lying to him about; Batman breaks into the federal cop morgue to look at the guy he supposedly killed.
Exquisite art on all of it, though obviously better on the action. Pope doesn’t make the talking heads sequences interesting visually; he matches the monotony and tediousness of the dialogue. Appropriate, but also, why do the scenes if you’re not interested in doing the scenes. Especially since the first issue established Year 100 can run on pure adrenalin. Contriving reasons to be reticent during exposition dumps….
The second half of the comic does a lot to redeem the first, though it’s clear Pope doesn’t actually have a good story, which is foreboding given there are two issues to go.