Saturday, November 21, 2015

Batman #45 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

All right, let's just jump into it, because we have a lot of ground to cover.

I honestly couldn't remember how Gordon got himself in the situation that starts this issue, tangling with a group of Mr. Bloom's mutated henchman.  (I do vaguely recall the sharks.)  In fact, I also couldn't remember how Gordon got on Bloom's trail in the first place, until Dylan reminds us that he sent him down the alley.  (I hadn't originally realized that he's Peter Duggio's cousin from issue #44.)  But, how does Gordon even know about Bloom?  I couldn't remember.  After all, last issue was about Bruce discovering Mr. Bloom, not Gordon.  I'm going to have to read my back issues.

At any rate, Gordon is saved when Dylan reveals that he's given the Batsuit a limited form of artificial intelligence, enabling it to save a target.  In this situation, the target is Jim, and it does its job admirably.  (I can't wait for the arc where the Batsuit goes rogue.)  Jim later apologizes to Geri about himself going rogue, since, if I do remember correctly, Julia helped him turn off her ability to track the suit after the Powers That Be ordered him not to go after Bloom.  Geri then takes him on a tour of her "evil base."  (She's joking.  Maybe.)  She reveals that her company has created its own collider in an attempt to develop new elements.  She talks about the goal of finding an "island of stability," a hypothesized group of elements in the 200s that don't suffer from the same instability as the ones in the 120s.  So far, they've succeeded in creating a super-heavy element:  Batmanium 206.  (Hence the name of this arc, "Superheavy.")  Powers never explains what she wants to do with these elements (and the name of the arc implies that it's relevant somehow.)  Instead, she tells Jim that she wants him to resign at a "presentation" that she's holding that evening.  (Apparently Jim's absence in previous issues meant that he missed the gala where she was going to present him with Batmanium.)  She promises that he can help her pick the next Batman.

Meanwhile, Duke breaks into Dylan's laboratory since no one would bother to page him.  (#microaggression)  Duke shows him the Bloom seed that he swiped from Bruce, and Dylan encourages him to be careful.  He notes that Peter was his cousin, and we learned that his burned ear (which figures prominently here) comes from some gang members that almost killed him when he himself looked for Bloom.  Duke encourages him to help, offering him a Robin badge.  It's a nice moment, but I'm still curious how Duke learned about Bloom.  Snyder hasn't made that clear yet.

Later, at the "presentation," Jim is trying to decide if he's going to resign when Mr. Bloom attacks.  Jim is able to save Geri as Bloom's blimp crashes into the building.  (This scene is pretty awesome, as Jim uses his now voice-activated connection to the suit's artificial intelligence to tell it to duck as he leaps for Geri.  I also love that he continues to call it "rookie."  I feel like Snyder is really getting down Jim's voice.)

Overall, it's a solid issue, but I'm starting to wonder if Snyder doesn't have one too many irons in the fire at this point.  Despite being five issues into this arc, we really don't have a clear sense of anyone's motivations.  Why don't Geri and the Powers That Be want Gordon going after Bloom?  Moreover, why fire Gordon for this one infraction?  Does Powers really sincerely believe that she'd be able to find anyone as good to replace Jim?  Again, how does Duke know about Bloom and why does he want to go after him?  Why would Bloom -- who's spent so much time in the shadows -- suddenly attack now, in such a public way?  I'm not saying that Snyder has to lay all his cards on the table, like confirming that Geri is secretly the Big Bad.  Some of these mysteries are integral to this new status quo, and I get that it's going to be a while before we get them answered.  But, in terms of this very specific Mr. Bloom story, it's getting to be long in the tooth for us to be pretty much in the dark.

*** (three of five stars)

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