ANALYSIS -- BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES #17
On a recent trip to visit my folks, I went through some boxes and found, sans cover, this copy of 1999’s BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES #17. Gotham Adventures was my full-stop favorite comic when it was coming out, a combination of me being smack dab in the middle of its target demographic and it being really, really well made. Tight story, dynamic artwork, clean, crisp colors and letters. As I transition from Vacation Dan back to The Schkade That Works, I thought it would be a useful exercise to go through this issue, page by page, to see how it ticks.
I’ll be focusing mainly on the pencils and colors by Tim Levins and Lee Loughridge, respectively, plus Scott Peterson’s script — Terry Beatty is one of my favorite inkers ever and letter Tim Harkins acquits himself expertly, so I won’t have much to say about them beyond “continues to be amazing, surprising no one.”
And please, feel free to check me on any mistakes I might have made, add your own commentary, or share similar examples of good comics done well.
Batman: Gotham Adventures and all characters contained therin are of course property of DC Comics, reproduced here solely for educational purposes.
We open strong with a full-page splash. Three distinct players whose suits, hats, and bad ties immediately code them in the Timm-verse aesthetic as ‘Hoodlums’ give us immediate sense of threat. Their momentum is heading left, into the fold, against the western flow of reading; this is because they’re bad guys — their actions go against the proper order of things, up to and including the reading flow. But also for another reason, which the right-most hood’s reaction sets us up for, compelling us to turn the page.
An even stronger followup with a double-page splash. Batman smashes in through the window in a powerful left to right movement, in direct opposition to the gangsters’ movement on the previous splash. The background establishes the family Batman is there to protect, as well as the shabbiness of their apartment and clothes. The fact that Batman’s cape can still be partially outside the window while he’s hitting the hoods who just came through the opposite doorway immediately sells how small the space is. What could these poor people possibly have that’s worth three armed gunmen kicking down their door?
This page is all about one thing: establishing Batman as an overwhelming force. Strong left-to-right movement, always dominating the panel, no signs that this is especially difficult for him. His first line of dialogue: a piece of short, relaxed, confident detective talk.