by Jarrod JonesRebirth is finally upon us, so if you’ve been paying close attention you know precisely what that means: the DC Comics section of your favorite local retailer is about to become rife with one-shots designed to springboard all of your favorite superhero titles, with their instantly iconic mugs shoved right up into our faces. Though there are more than a few of them menacingly brandishing weapons at us — maybe you want to back up a bit, friend? Blow off some steam?

Batman: Rebirth #1 is no different, though if you somehow work up the courage to maneuver around Mikel Janin’s tough-guy cover imbued with grimace and extra pointy batarangs, you’ll find the strongest introduction to the new DC paradigm so far. (SupermanGreen Lanterns, and Green Arrow also got the Rebirth treatment this week.) Bruce Wayne is back in the Bat-cowl after a prolonged bout of Joker amnesia (or whatever happened to him after Endgame), though Batman: Rebirth looks and feels as though the man had never left — and considering that we’re leafing through what has to be the fifth soft reboot of the DC line since Infinite Crisis back in 2005, that definitely comes as a relief.

The primary function of Rebirth, after all, is to sate the hunger of long-time continuity hounds whilst simultaneously wooing new and lapsed readers to the DC fold. If Superman: Rebirth dwelled too much in the past, Batman: Rebirth is its forward-thinking cousin — it’s all progress, and yes, it’s all fun. Scott Snyder passes the baton (bat-on?) to Grayson and Sheriff of Babylon super-scribe Tom King with this issue, and it’s a pleasure to see how hands-off Snyder actually turns out to be. King’s Babylonian narrative flourishes are put to particularly good use, emphasising the presence of villain du jour The Calendar Man while also presumably giving artist Mikel Janin brief reprieves to crack his knuckles (or whatever it is maestros do in-between gorgeous displays of art). Snyder’s confidence in King is evident all over this issue.

Whatever lip-service is paid to the events that came before is all relatively minor. (Seems we’ve all worked past that time when Jim Gordon had a mohawk and a giant pet Bat-robot for a spell.) In the right hands, this debut one-shot could give the impression that an intimate knowledge of the Bat-mythos was anything but essential. And isn’t that the point? Batman feels fresh for the first time in years — if nothing else, it’s certainly the most assured Bat-debut since Snyder & Capullo’s Batman #1 nearly five years ago. Apparently, when it comes to first impressions, Batman: Rebirth is King. (That’ll be the last time I do that, I swear.)

DC Comics / $2.99

Written by Scott Snyder and Tom King.

Art by Mikel Janin.

Colors by June Chung.

Letters by Deron Bennett.

9 out of 10