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BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY SECRET FILES & ORIGINS #1

Cover (John Van Fleet): Cool as heck!! Very creepy--did you see the "Batman Returns" Max Schreck cat on the bottom?
Grade: A

"Night Games" (Peterson & Puckett, Ryan): Peterson and Puckett, who work so well together in "Batgirl," end up putting out a short story clearly designed to sell Batgirl to the reader who have picked up GCSF&O to get a taste of "Batman." Unfortunately, it's not all that interesting--we get to see Batgirl meet Catwoman for the first time, do a tour of the new Gotham (though nothing but just superficial names), and a few fights. Pretty boring stuff.
Grade: B-

"The Changing Face of Gotham": interesting pictures, but reads like an architectural text. The shots of the new Batcave are certainly cool--but why no explanation on how Wayne built it? Where's the dinosaur? The giant penny? Interesting...but worth the money? No.
Grade: B

"Catwoman Movie Trailer" (Carleton and Harris): I never read Bronwyn Carlton's "Catwoman" monthly, so I can't comment on it, but the trailor didn't really get me all that interested in reading it. Wayne said it best in the last panel--"Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid."
Grade: C

"Robin & Oracle" (Dixon and Guice): A cute story by Dixon with excellent art by Jackson Guice (his Barbara Gordon is great!). While fun to read, it was too short and if it was trying to sell "Birds of Prey" to me, it failed.
Grade: B

"Interview with Leslie Thompkins" (Grayson): Sappy sappy sappy dialgoue painting Leslie in an extremely one-diminsional light. If I hadn't read "Spiritual Currency," I would think Grayson knew nothing of the character. Gag.
Grade: C-

"Skull-Duggery" (Vaughan and Martin): One of my first exposures to Brian K. Vaughan--the opening over-cliched "I am the Joker"/"I am the Riddler"/"I am Mr. Freeze" lines made me want to barf, but his VERY risque storytelling (Copper + Niton=Cu Nt) and great sense of humor (the "Supermap" line for instance) as well as Marcos Martin's terrific artwork changed my initial impressions. The only character I thought wasn't written very well was the Freeze one, but that's chickenscratch. Boy does the Skeleton look cool as hell! Everything's supposed to suggest that Lucius Fox is behind this all, but that's too obvious--just a hunch. But I also thought Hugo Strange was connected to the narrator in "Gotham Knights"--and you see how well that played off? Maybe Strange is involved in here too? Eh??!!
Grade: B+

Also, the typical "character profiles," "maps," "sketches," etc. are included for the new reader. I kind of wish I had read some of the new villain profiles before they appeared in "Detective" and "Robin," especially given Dieter Hollerzollren's blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in recent issues of "Robin" (after reading the story, I was like "who the hell was that?). Reading the profile on "The Banner" is a hoot though--WHEN WILL HE STRIKE AGAIN??!! The bottom line--if you're a loyal reader, there isn't anything big in here (aside from the first appearance of the Skeleton)--it's designed to sell the Batman universe to new readers.

The JYD's Grade: "Gotham City SF&O" #1: B-