Batman is back and training a new sidekick, Duke from We Are Robin. However, Calendar Man is back and reinvented as something horrifying. This is the issue that is the bridge to the next Batman series, as well as getting the series back to a place longtime Batman fans will be more familiar with.
Under Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's tutelage, Batman had gone through quite a journey with Bruce Wayne losing his memories of him being Batman, more recently. Playing off the events that the New 52 built, including We Are Robin, the Rebirth issue adds Duke to the mix, who is being trained by Bruce. While this does leave some questions like "where the heck is Damian," it's nice to see Bruce Wayne working with someone again.
In addition to building on the dynamic between Duke and Bruce, this issue does a stellar job at reinventing Calendar Man. There's a bit of a metahuman aspect to the character now, so he's not just a man who commits crimes on holidays anymore. He molts into a younger man every year and the depiction of that is incredibly creepy.
What really works as a collaboration between these two authors on this book is the element of horror that's felt throughout the background of the issue. Both Snyder and Tom King deliver an issue that gets Batman back on track, truly embracing the title "Rebirth." This is a great mixture of the old and the new, with a solid set-up for where Batman is headed.
The art team of Mikel Janin and June Chung do a phenomenal job on the artistic side of things this week. The layout of pages 2 and 3 is a chaotic, tone-setting, beautiful piece of art. Janin's style is wonderful and completely fitting for this book, and his overall layouts are unique and keep the book exciting. Meanwhile, Chung's colors give the book an ominous feel. At any moment, something awful could happen to these characters.
The only disappointment with this story is that the issue doesn't cover anything to do with the three Jokers, which was introduced in Justice League #50. It's a bit of a bummer, but nonetheless, it's not needed for this issue, since it's already pretty packed with story.
Seeing someone else write a Batman series can be a bit of a shock, since Snyder and Capullo had such a long, wonderful run on the book, but the series is easily in good hands with King and Janin. There's a lot of set-up for the new series that is relatively accessible to new readers without alienating those who have enjoyed the run from the past few years. This is a great issue bridging the last volume to the new.