The New Batman: A (Mostly) Spoiler Free First Impression Of Batman #41

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While DC Free Comic Book Day offering Divergence actually gave us our first taste of the new Batman, this weeks Batman #41 gives us the first full blown appearance.  As I’ve mentioned on the site and in the Gabbing Geek editorial meetings, I’m very skeptical about the direction that DC is headed.  I don’t care how much you want to try to humanize him, putting Superman in a t-shirt and jeans is just dumb.  Granted, some might be fine with that, or the new “Canon over continuity” approach DC is taking with their books.  But I’ve mostly heard negative press about the new RobobatChappie-bat, Batman.

I’ll admit, if it wasn’t for writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, Batman would be another in a long list of DC books that I won’t be picking up post-Convergence.  But the duo has been rocking since the New 52 launched.  And Snyder has been one of my favorite writers since his excellent “Black Mirror” run on Detective Comics just prior to the New 52.  It features Dick Grayson as Batman and is well worth tracking down the trade paperback.

But back to this issue, after the break, my initial thoughts on this new approach to my second favorite character ever.  (Very minor spoilers inside.)

I hid it after the break, but at this point I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that DC’s new Batman is Jim Gordon.  With Batman 1.0 missing for several months since his battle with the Joker in the last Snyder/Capullo story arc Endgame, the police have gone about attempting to create their own Batman.  A Batman that works with the police and operates inside the law.  But they know full well they could likely never train someone to Batman’s level, hence the mechanical suit.

And that suit…man…it does not look like Batman.  And I’m not the only one that thinks so.

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Jim Gordon, putting to words how we all feel.

But I get it.  If I’m sending a police officer out to take on the likes of Bane or Mr. Freeze or Clayface, I’m going to need to protect them.

And since they are looking to put an officer (or military personnel) in the suit, it does make some sense that Jim Gordon would be a candidate.  As a top tier policeman and former marine (and thanks to the New 52, “only” 46 years old and not gray) with some training and a hair cut, it might just work.  Not to mention it will much less likely ruffle the feathers of fanboys if a favorite like Gordon is chosen as opposed to some fresh new recruit or some loose canon like Jean Paul Valley.

But it does bring up something I thought about while reading this issue.  It takes place months after Batman has disappeared/”died”.  What have the rest of the Bat family been up to during that time?  Maybe they know something that we don’t (like Bruce is alive, surprise!), but otherwise, why hasn’t one of Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or Jason Todd stepped up and taken up the mantle of the Bat?  Unless they decided Gotham no longer needed a Batman.  Grayson has been reluctant in the past to take over at times when Bruce was missing/dead/incapable of being Batman.  But one of the big ideas that surround the whole Batman mythos is that Batman is eternal.  Even the Nolan/Bale films touched on this.  And the Gotham police seem to have the same idea.

In any case, at the end of the day it is Gordon in the suit.  And no matter how much training he receives to get himself in shape or operate the suit, he is still brand new at this.  That aspect is intriguing and gives us a much more relateable Batman in some senses.  Batman has always been a hero that many people can relate to given his lack of powers.  No matter how far fetched it might be, there is the thought that with enough training and money, anybody could Batman.  Unlike getting bitten by a radioactive spider, which is much more likely to kill you than give you the powers of an arachnid.

Gordon’s short term transformation from a detective spending his off hours smoking instead of in the gym, to a lean, mean Batman (in the machine) is potentially eye roll inducing.  Gordon does have some interaction with the issues villain outside of the mechsuit, which to me was the weakest part of the story.  If you are going to have the suit, and for very good reasons, keep him in the suit.  Once he steps outside the suit and starts doing “Batman things”, you lose me.  It becomes less about filling a role left by Batman and more about replacing Batman proper…if that makes any sense.

So Mr. Snyder and Mr. Capullo, I won’t say I’m hooked, but I am interested enough to keep Batman in the buy pile.  I trust Snyder and his understanding of Batman and Gotham and this family of characters.  Let’s hope he doesn’t let me down.

And in my old age I am more inclined to go into these things and give them a chance then to rant and rave about change.  You know Bruce will be back at some point.  I had the same feeling when Otto Octavius replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man.  As ludicrous as it was, I let it go because I knew Peter would eventually be back.  And Superior Spider-Man turned out to be an outstanding title.

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Time will tell, Jim. Time will tell.

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