Review: Li'l Gotham Volume 1 by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs

Li'l Gotham: Volume 1
Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs

DC Comics
I received an e-ARC from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Released February 25, 2014
128 pages

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These gorgeously drawn and painted all-ages tales feature all of your favorite Gotham City characters: Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, The Joker, The Penguin and many others!  

First up, Robin needs Batman's help to learn the true meaning of Halloween. Then, on Thanksgiving, Batman and Robin join the families of Gotham City around the table for a holiday feast--and birds of a feather flock together to stage a march against the city...led by The Penguin!  As Christmas time approaches, the search for a missing holiday choir leads Batman and Nightwing into a confrontation with Mr. Freeze! But in this heartfelt Christmas tale, the frozen fiend's motives aren't as nefarious as they seem... 

And on a festive New Year's Eve, Catwoman thinks she'll be spending a quiet night at home, contemplating her New Year's resolutions--until Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn show up, that is!

This volume collects stories from Detective Comics Annual #11, Batman Annual #27, Batman: Li'l Gotham Digital chapters 1-11.

This is an odd and adorable li’l series. It’s all your favorite Gothamites at their cutest in all-ages friendly adventures. The comic series was originally released as digital one offs on holidays, and each li’l story takes place on that holiday. So you have a story about mothers on Mother’s Day, a story involving rabbits and eggs on Easter, and so on. It’s a great idea of an all-ages comic and did I mention that these characters are ADORABLE?

The trio of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and a reluctant Catwoman is now my favorite thing in the Bat-verse that isn’t Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon-related. Their New Year’s Eve story had me in giggle fits and caused a sudden desire to see if there are any other stories that toss these three femme fatales together for crazy antics. Another giggle-inducing story was the Valentine’s Day issue where the Joker accidentally spills a pheromone-based love potion on himself and the ladies of Gotham go a little crazy.

It’s all great fun and you have plenty of Damien with his snarky one-liners, especially in the opening Halloween story where he’s trying to understand trick or treating after he “accidentally” starts beating up some kids dressed as classic Batman villains. The Father’s Day story introduces us to another side of stalwart butler Alfred to the great amazement of young Damien.

As previously mentioned, the art styling of Nguyen’s is adorable. I don’t know if it’s the electronic galley I was reading, but at times the artwork seemed overly blurry. I know that an element of blurriness is part of the style, but it got to the point at times where I just became sad that I couldn’t fully enjoy the adorableness. The galley also had some pages with the wrong text in the wrong bubbles, which made for a very wacky and confusing Christmas tale. That’s not the fault of the book and I’d guess the issue is resolved in the print version. One other thing that confused me was more due to a gap in my DC knowledge, but I had no idea who the little red headed kid paling around with Damien was and why he suddenly could morph into a muscle-blown adult (and no, it wasn’t Billy/Shazam).

These are just fun stories where even the villains aren’t all bad (I mean, Bane decides to have a make-your-own taco party with Damien, Katana and that character I had never heard of). It was nice to visit my favorite Bat Family characters and not be doused with dark broodiness because that’s just the “Batman way”. This is a book I could easily share with my 4-year-old nephew who has no clue who most of these characters are. It would be a fantastic introduction for the budding geek alongside the Super Pets chapter books and Tiny Titans.


I received an electronic ARC of this graphic novel from the publisher in return for an honest review.