Just massively entertaining. That's what this second outing for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's new Batman is. It's hard to remember that I don't like the idea of a RoBatman when the reality is so much fun.
This issue features a new Batmobile, a Bat-app, good advice from Maggie Sawyer and Julia Pennyworth, a fresh take on a classic Bruce Wayne girlfriend... and a ruddy great brick monster!
All these elements are folded into the riddle of Gotham's latest threat - a mystery person outfitting crime bosses with hi-tech horrors. That's what gives new Batman Jim Gordon his earthen enemy, a worthy challenge for a man equipped with enough super-science to take down regular rogues.
Gordon isn't always confident he's the hero Gotham needs, but he's a hero regardless, always ready to jump into the fray and do his best. His years on the street mean he's not immediately at home in the 'old Batman's' realm, prompting this moment, a typically effective collaboration between writer and artists.
Regardless, Gordon is having some fun. It would be odd that he's not especially mourning his old friend, but that's because - like the comic readers for whom an action figure-wielding kid stands in this issue - he doesn't really believe it. And that gives writer Snyder and artist Capullo the chance to surprise us with just where this instalment wraps, as, for the second time this month, we're reminded that Gordon is a pretty decent detective.
The only person not having fun is young Duke Thomas who, perhaps, has guessed that a new Batman isn't necessarily necessary, and - being a We Are Robin Bat-fanboy - isn't impressed. Or maybe he simply has wind.
The new Batmobile turns out to be a flipping massive great Bat-Truck, the spiritual heir to the Batmobile of 1950/Flying Batmobile. It'd be rather rubbish for fast-moving car chases down dark alleyways, but as a hit-and-run story beat, it's terrific. And it's just one of the reasons this arc is called Superheavy, with others including the responsibility Gordon feels and the foes he faces.
Snyder has to be commended for fitting so much good stuff into his script - after the Grand Guignol entertainments of his Joker stories, it's a treat to plug back into Batman's Silver Age SF sensibility. All the elements I mention at the top gel into a very satisfying read starring a thoroughly engaging Gordon.
I'm still not used to his new visual, though - the hair, the muscles, the lack of iconic tache ... and that super-slinky costume he hangs out in when not in the metal suit - good grief, has he forgotten Maggie's a lesbian?
There's no denying, though, that this is a beautiful-looking book. Capullo pours his heart and soul into the pages, breathing life into characters and locales. The storytelling is exemplary, as Capullo paces sequences to regulate reader reaction. While it seems we won't see the brick baddie after this issue, that'd be a huge shame because he's such a great visual. The sharp finishes of inker Danny Miki are the essential complement to Capullo's pencils, while colourist FCO Plascencia continues to demonstrate that daylight Gotham can fascinate as much as the night side. And with the likes of Gordon-font and RoBatman font, Steve Wands shows why he's such a go-to letterer.
It's ironic that my favourite Batman issue in years stars someone else as Batman, but that's comics - you never know what you're going to connect with. Plus, I have a pen - I can draw a moustache on Gordon ...