Batman #41 review

Robobat-Bunny. Scott Snyder gets that one out of the way pretty quickly as his script sets up Jim Gordon as the new Batman. Jim himself uses the phrase when he first sees the tech-suit built by cuddly corporation Powers International. He's dubious about taking on the role when there are lots of keen, fit, smart young police cadets who could make a good Batman. But CEO Geri Powers insists that as a former marine who knows the streets of Gotham like - well, like Batman - he's the man. 
It takes three months of intense training, eye-correction surgery and enough willpower to give up the ciggies, but as this issue begins Gordon is ready. He makes his debut as Batman fighting an unnamed energy creation, assisted by tech aides Daryl Gutierrez and Julia Perry. 

And he doesn't do a half-bad job. 

I wasn't prepared to like this issue. Having lived through Azrael's tenure as a Batman replacement in the Nineties, I'm dubious of faux-Batmen. That long, turgid saga wound up telling us what we already knew - it takes more than a hi-tech suit to make a Batman worth rooting for. And here we have Gordon in a hi-tech suit. Gordon, the ultimate street cop, a man born in a trenchcoat. 

Yet Snyder grabs me with a hugely likeable script, full of character insight, engrossing action and hints of what's to come. I've never been down with a Batman who needs someone in his ear at all times, helping him with bits of info and advice - it makes him seem less capable. I like a hero willing to dive into a building without knowing what's in there, without a space satellite aiming Bat-bombs at it should he get into trouble. But we've had such a set-up for awhile now, and I have to admit, the banter between Batman and Penny One aka Alfred, or Penny Two, his daughter Julia, can be good. So I'm glad it's Julia Pennyworth who's on hand here, a tweaked surname disguising her association with the presumed-dead Batman. 
Favourite moments include Gordon desperately trying to 'think Bat-thoughts', a chat with hyper-realist Harvey Bullock and a look at the mech-suit's alternate skins. In-fight flashbacks to three months previously bring us up to date, and for me they were more compelling than the fun tussle with the new villain; Gordon's incredulity at the lack of 'Batman' in the new suit is endearing, because most readers will likely be right there with him. And after the fight, Snyder shows us that while Powers has given him a lot, it may have taken everything that matters away. 
Artist Greg Capullo continues his rightly praised partnership with Snyder, giving us possibly the most detailed Gotham ever - there's real depth to these streets. And there's real depth to the characters - there's not a single shot of Gordon's face, for example, that doesn't tell us what he's thinking. And the fight sequence is as well-choreographed as we've come to expect. The sooner Gordon gets rid of the new haircut - a marine thing, apparently - the better, though, as he looks ridiculous. Like a bad Midnighter homage act. 

Oh, and keep an eye out for a subtle visual plug from Capullo and talented inker Danny Miki for an upcoming new DC title...

The new villain - no codename, but we do learn his real identity - is a great visual, courtesy of the synergy between Capullo and colourist FCO Plascencia. Almost pure colour, he reminds me of the wonkily wonderful bad guys Superman and Batman would encounter in Silver Age World's Finest issues. As for the lettering, Steve Wands does fine work; I'm not keen on the robotic font for in-costume Gordon, it's a tad distancing, but I imagine that's something he was asked to do. And it does make Gordon's gags feel funnier. 

All in all, this is a very entertaining opener to the new storyline. I don't know how long it's planned to run, because publishers tend not to tell us such things these days, but I don't doubt it'll continue to be good, and it may even prove great. While Gordon does look set to be a more than decent Batman, and it's fair enough that the question of what makes a Batman, The Batman is examined for a new generation, I won't complain when Bruce Wayne picks up his cape and cowl once more, and Gordon returns to support. For now, though, I'm enjoying the big, bonkers, colourful ride. 


  1. What was the subtle visual plug? I missed it. I enjoyed this issue too. (Although seeing Gordon lose his kindly father look was distressing.) Do you think Powers has the right ideas about Batman? I think she might have a point about the checks and balances thing but you sound skeptical.

    1. A poster for Black Canary (comic book/rock band).

  2. Check out story page 15, the panel with the truck flying through the air!

    And I'm a comics fan, trained to always assume corporations are EEEEEVIL!

  3. the mohawk i can stomach the lack of his legendary stache is what really bothers me but it can be hard to hide underneath his other batsui

  4. I vote he does a Cesar Romero and employs 'clever' make-up.


Post a Comment