I liked Greg Capullo’s work from the moment I first saw it. He’s had his ups and downs as far as what he’s worked on. I’ve seen his work in the horror anthology Taboo and rejoiced when he replaced Rob Liefeld on X-force (but then again, I was just excited there was a replacement on X-Force at this point). The blend of superhero and horror on Spawn obviously worked for someone, just not me. When I saw the final cover for Batman #1, I thought it was more fun than many of the other covers I’ve seen in this New 52 wave. The book inside doesn’t disappoint. I liked it.
However, aside from changing Dick Grayson’s age to adult to teenager (and this between pages, in two awkward scenes with the character), I fail to see how this is a relaunch of the book if everyone from Dick to Damien Wayne is here. I guess DC is trying to cash in on the idea of Marvel’s Ultimate line without committing to an entirely new separate line (given the current sad creative state of the Marvel’s line). Some of the book feels a little like Mark Millar when he breezed by damn near 20 years of continuity in the first two story arcs of his Ultimate X-Men run. And mentioning Mark Millar in a book that has nothing to do with him can never be good.
Also, like the Ultimate line, part of the fun is seeing how the old becomes new. An stock villain that’s easy to guess is coming back, and the new looks for Batman’s villains are pretty cool. Too bad that with all the head tattoos I saw and Capullo’s Joker taking on the Heath Ledger version, self-mutilation seems to be at least a major theme of Batman’s villains, at least in this book. That and the other subsequent bloody scenes keep this from recommending this for a kid. Scott Snyder wrote a good hook at the end, but I wonder if I would be rolling my eyes if have the mystery isn’t so much in the plot as it is wondering what characters are radically changed enough for the first story arc to work. It’s almost a cheat, but he wouldn’t be the only New 52 writer using one. At least here, your reaction is “What’s next?” rather than “Wait, What…?!?”