Batman #46 by Tom King, Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, and Tom Eumorey takes what started as a fun alternate reality tale and turns it in a violent and twisted direction that ends in shock and tragedy.
‘The Gift’ Part 2
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Tony Daniel
Ink Assists by: Sandu Florea
Colors by: Tom Eumorey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Booster Gold’s wedding present has screwed up Batman’s past and done even more damage to his present. Now, with the Caped Crusader himself refusing to cooperate, the only way for Booster to correct this runaway timeline is to get Catwoman on his side. But with her own past altered, can he make Catwoman recognize the qualities in her husband-to-be that brought them together in the first place? Plus, if Batman isn’t doing his job, Gotham City may become way more dangerous than our bumbling time-traveler might be ready for.
I don’t think anyone could have been prepared for the direction this story took. When a writer uses Booster Gold to tell a time travel story, expectations usually lay toward fun Back To The Future style romps. But this is Tom King, and one of his greatest skills is to deftly defy expectations. What we get here is a VERY dark story that at its core is about how important Batman is to Gotham, specifically Bruce Wayne underneath the cowl. And for there to be a Batman, there has to be tragedy. Specifically personal tragedy. King suggests that no matter what, Bruce Wayne’s life will always result in violence and death for his family, but in extreme circumstances that darkness spreads even further. It’s a bold idea that works wonders.
His portrayal of Booster Gold is not only accurate but shows a deep understanding of what makes the character work. Yes, Booster has always been a character that oozes humor but the best writers understand that that humor masks a gamut of deep emotions: guilt, self-loathing, lack of confidence and a desire to be a hero to make amends. In the right hands, Booster Gold is…well pure gold. And Tom King fucking nails it.
And then we come to the ending. An ending that will leave you breathless with its violence and implications. And of course most of this will be course corrected in the usual time travel reset button way, but the motives and emotions that cause these horrible acts are still embedded and extend from the core of the characters. It’s the reason these alternate reality stories work so well, they help showcase darkness within that an in-continuity story just can’t tell.
Tony Daniel is no stranger to Batman’s world, having worked on his own run on the character as well with a plethora of other equally fantastic creators. His familiarity is apparent, as his art is confident and powerful. When you throw in the inks by Florea and the colors by Eumorey, it all practically explodes. It blends classic superhero art with modern slickness. He has to create some shocking images, yet still make all the wild differences recognizable otherwise the whole thing would lose emotional impact.
“The Gift” has been a wild ride of a story arc and will go down as a classic Booster Gold story. The cliffhanger here will make you tear out your hair in anticipation and wishing you could leap forward in time to see what happens next. Fantastic!