Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jim Gordon becomes Batman: 'Batman' No. 41 review

"Waitwaitwait. You want me to be who?" — Jim Gordon 

"It's like … a bunny. Like a robotbat bunny?"

That's what Lt. Jim Gordon calls the new Gotham City Police Department-issued Batman armor in BATMAN No 41. His assessment might not be as harsh as mine when I first saw the god-awful new look for the Caped Crusader in March, but it may be more spot on.

But I gotta say it's refreshing to know writer Scott Snyder can take a somewhat detached look at artist Greg Capullo's Robocop-inspired design for Gordon's Batman. Even if the tongue-in-cheek comment is in one line of dialogue in issue 41, it shows the creative team seems to have heard the outcries of lifelong Batman fans like me.

As I said, Gordon's take on the armor is spot on. With the Batsymbol on the chest it's the only thing that ties Batman to the 10-foot Robocop-like armor with rabbit-like antennas on either side of the headpiece.

It's a whole different world in Gotham City now.

Did both Batman and The Joker
really die in this issue?
To get you up to speed, the original Bruce Wayne, Batman, was killed during a showdown with The Joker in BATMAN No. 40. (Snyder, in this late April interview with The Guardian website, said the conclusion to the "Endgame" storyline also killed The Joker. I'll believe it all when I see it. …!) So the GCPD has decided Gotham needs a Batman and instead of choosing the more obvious choices from the best graduates of the police academy, 46-year-old Gordon is the top choice.

GCPD board member Geri Powers tells him there are cops who would be a smarter and tougher Batman and the "other board members (would) prefer a younger Batman," but being a former Marine and his knowledge of the city makes him "the right man now."

"You'll make an ugly Batman, sure. But you'll make the best Batman. One that'll let me sleep at night, knowing this battered, beaten city … is safe," she says to Gordon.

Powers (a character I'd never heard of until now) makes a good point.

Jim Gordon's Batman decides to get out of his armor and "walk the beat."
Gordon has the right stuff to be Batman. Having worked closely with the Dark Knight, he's the best person in the GCPD who knows what it takes to do the job. Having been a Marine, Gordon knows what it means to be in a battle. Plus, his years on the street as a detective means he knows what makes Gotham click.

But isn't Powers overlooking Gordon's greatest qualities? That he's a good man, a man of strong ethics and sound character. And one who will make the right decision in a tough situation — not the easy decision, the right one.

Gordon turns her down. Initially with a strong assertion: "I'm sorry, but it's not going to happen."

But three months later, Gordon is the new Batman. I wonder if Snyder will address what changed his mind in future issues. Other questions: At what point with the bureaucrats think they need to control what this new Batman does? Or doesn't do? How will Gordon respond?

Honestly, I doubt I'll be reading any more BATMAN issues to find out (Snyder lost my interest after the overly long "Court of Owls" storyline), but these are matters worth considering. Honestly, I just bought this issue for historical purposes. …

Without further ado, here are the quotes that best tell this issue:

Jim Gordon drops a bombshell on fellow detective Harvey Bullock —
that he will be the next Batman, one sanctioned by the Gotham
City Police Department!

  • "Bat-thoughts. Bat-thoughts. Bat-thoughts. … Here we go." — Gordon before leaping into action as Batman
  • "Batman is this … terrifying, giant thing. It's just an illusion. He was a man, Jim. The right man at the time." — Powers
  • "You're messing with me right? April Fools in summer. … Jim, you can't be serious." — Lt. Harvey Bullock  after hearing Gordon break the news about being the GCPD's Batman
  • "You're trenchcoat, through and through. And I don't think they make 10-foot trenchcoats." — Bullock
  • "Gimme that." — Bullock tells Gordon, who is about to smoke a cigarette
  • "Sometimes you just have to get out and walk the beat." — Gordon, dressed in a black, skintight Batman costume, having left the armor to take down a kidnapper
  • "What we're making here is something dangerous and unknown. You will be a new Batman, if you do this, Jim. You won't be police. You'll work with them. With the local governments and the people, too. You'll be a Batman (who) has checks and balances." — Powers
  • "You'll be a better Batman, better for this Gotham, this moment. Something inspiring." — Powers
  • "Now the public won't know your identity, but the few (who) need to know, they will." — Powers

Gordon has the best assessment of the situation in the last two panels of the next-to-last page: "I say … what the hell have we done?"

With Bruce Wayne's blessing, Dick Grayson
dons the classic Batman costume
for the first time.
This isn't the first time Wayne has been replaced as Batman.

When he was recovering from paralysis during the "Knightquest" storyline, Wayne gave the Mantle of the Bat to Jean-Paul Valley, who quickly became a merciless and increasingly violent Azrael version of Batman (aka what fans called "Azbats").

Dick Grayson has had two successful runs as Batman.

After Wayne regained the Mantle of the Bat from Azrael after the "KnightsEnd" storyline and realizing he needed more training, Wayne willing  gave up the Mantle of the Bat. Grayson temporarily was Batman with Wayne's blessing (for 12 issues starting with BATMAN Vol. 1, No. 512) and teamed with the third Robin, Tim Drake, during the "Prodigal" crossover storyline. Years later, Grayson took it upon himself to again became the Dark Knight for a much longer time following Wayne's assumed death in the "Batman: R.I.P." and "Final Crisis" storylines.

Needless to say, Wayne returned each time assume his proper place as the Batman.

Expect it to happen again. After all, a passerby walks by a dark haired, shaggy man sitting in a park bench in the last page of BATMAN No. 41. He stops and looks at the man, whose back is to the readers. The pedestrian then says: "Bruce Wayne?" Grade: B

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