The writer of "30 Days of Night" provides Batman with his own macabre style. - TPBReview
I'm not always a fan of writers who transfer their own famous style towards a retelling of a classic superhero. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails... dramatically! Writers like Robert Kirkman have proven that while they may be great with a zombie book, give them a mainstream hero (see "Ultimate X-Men") and they can crash and burn. So I approached this book with some sense of caution. It almost lost me in the first few pages when Batman and Joker are in the midst of their usual weekly fight and suddenly start to talk about God and implications of an afterlife. Huh? Maybe these two HAVE been at it for too long. Luckily, this was just an introduction to the themes that would follow and low and behold, "Batman: Gotham County Line" actually ended up as one of the more original (and entertaining) tales of the Caped Crusader I've read in recent years.
If you're a fan of DC's dark magical characters like Deadman and Phantom Stranger, you'll get a kick out of this story, especially if you enjoy some "zombie goodness" in your horror stories. The tale begins with Batman hunting a serial killer in the suburbs. While Batman definitely feels out of place in the suburbs, it sets the mood for a supernatural theme in which the suburbs are probably the most normal environment he encounters by the end of the story. My only complaint about "Batman outside of the Gotham County Line" is that did they really have to give him a jetpack to travel? What? The Batmobile can't drive more than 30 miles? Watching Batman with his own personal rocket pack to travel over rooftops that can't be swung over almost reminds me of "Batman the Rocketeer," but again... it's another annoyance that I'm willing to forgive because the story does become a fun read by the end.
Reading about Batman investigating family killings in the suburbs feels like the beginnings of a Hannibal Lector storyline, only instead of visiting a psycho to solve the murders, Batman quickly tracks down the serial killer, only to discover he has unintentionally set off a bizarre ritual which allows the dead to once again enter the world of the living. Not only does Batman face victims of crimes he could not save, forcing him to confront his own personal demons, but he also encounters his famous parents in a meeting that was always meant to be. And as a side note, Jason Todd also makes an appearance (as a GOOD reborn-again Robin) and I want to say that this version of Robin coming back to life is probably the most appropriate storyline for Jason Todd, and much more fitting than what DC has done in recent years with his baffling return.
It's a storyline that forces Batman to come to grips with religion and the afterlife, and for once, we actually see a SCARED Bruce Wayne. This was one departure from Batman's normal character that I enjoyed. Batman does come across as a bit of a logical pragmatist and I can easily see him scared of the supernatural, especially considering fear of a bat is what gave him the idea for his costume in the first place. Some readers will tell you it doesn't make sense to read about a scared and confused Batman, but I thought it fit naturally, and made for an innovative tale of the Dark Knight.
It's difficult to describe the conclusions in this story without ruining it for a reader, but rest assured, if you're a Batman fan, or a fan of supernatural tales, especially Steve Niles, you won't be disappointed at all with "Batman: Gotham County Line." In May of 2008, Steve Niles will take another dab at the Batman mythos with his mini-series "Gotham After Midnight" and I for one can't wait to read it, and will probably buy the individual comics rather than wait for the trade paperback release.