Monday, July 13, 2015

Batman #41 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OK, I have to give credit where credit is due:  Snyder really nails this one.  As I mentioned in my review of "Divergence FCBD Special Edition" #1, I was having trouble getting excited about the idea of Commissioner Gordon as Batman.  But, Snyder sells me on it here.

First, he wisely takes us through Commissioner Gordon's journey in accepting Geri Powers' offer, using Jim's (and Harvey's) skepticism as a proxy for the reader's.  He's too old.  He's not the smartest candidate.  He smokes.  He's got glasses.  The Batsuit looks like a robo-bunny.  One by one, Snyder addresses them.  Actually, to be honest, he doesn't so much as address them as he dismisses them, because Jim doesn't care about them.  At the end of the day, he only cares about making sure that he's the one putting his neck on the line, not one of the young cadets that Geri was training to take the job.  (In a brilliant moment, this decision comes as one of those candidates comes to the roof where Jim and Harvey are smoking to Facetime with his 11-month-old son.)  Jim earlier talked about how he had often wondered what it would be like if Batman had worked within the system, not outside it.  Now, he decides to see.

Moreover, Geri's offer seems less crazy once we see Jim in action.  She argues that only he knows Gotham like the original Batman did, and the battle in this issue proves that.  He knew that a championship baseball player lived in the same area as where a creature made of energy was attacking a bank; as a result, he realizes that the creature is a distraction so that the actual perpetrator can rob the player.  In a moment that reminds us that Snyder and Capullo have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, he leaves his armor to locate the thief and save the player.  In the process, Capullo reveals his internal suit, and it's one of the coolest ones that Batman has ever had.

Along those lines, Snyder also makes it clear that everything isn't as it appears.  We never learn how the thief -- a small-time gang member -- got access to the technology that he did.  Snyder doesn't seem to be trying too hard to hide the fact that Powers may have provided it to him in the first place, given that her introductory speech about her company's manipulation of elements.  Moreover, Julia is the head of strategy for Jim's support team, but her identity as Alfred's daughter has been concealed; she's simply come highly recommended by Wayne Enterprises.  Last but certainly not least, we get to the last page where someone appears to recognize Bruce Wayne sitting on a park bench.

It's really this last moment that sold it to me.  Snyder is more or less acknowledging that this story of replacing Batman may have been told many times already, given how this image mirrors the ending of "The Dark Knight Rises."  But, he makes it clear that it's his turn to tell that story now.  Comics frequently trod over previously covered ground, and a 76-year-old character has had a lot of stories told about him.  Snyder is asking us to accept the story on its own merits, and I found myself easily convinced to do that here.  Onwards and upwards.

***** (five of five stars)

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