Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Batman by Scott Snyder issue #41

Wonderful things are brewing for this month of July. 

After a six-month absence due to my X-Men comics diet, I am finally back and I intend to make the most of it. I have a new reading list (four graphic novels from old continuity and the third and fourth volumes of New 52's The Dark Knight) as well as the official review for Fox's GOTHAM which wrapped up its first season a few months ago. I'm also starting a Batman: The Animated Series re-watch and review. All in all, it's going to be a great thirty-one days and I intend to fill each one with Batman-centric material in my long-neglected Bat-blog.

On that note, I won't forget reviewing the issues for the current roster of three Bat-titles I'm solely interested in for DC 2015 which are all set in the post-Convergence universe. I'm referring to Scott Snyder's Batman, Francis Manpul and Brian Bucelatto's Detective Comics and the new series Robin: Son of Batman now written by former Batman and Robin artist, Patrick Gleason. 

This review will be painstakingly spoilers galore so if you are reading, then I will assume you have read the issue and are familiar with the Endgame resolution in issue #40. If not then come back later and we can talk about it here. 

Snyder's Endgame was all about the mystery and mythology surrounding the Joker and Batman's complicated relationship with him as well as their contrasting, polarizing roles. It was a fulfilling story arc that also manages to question our own grim fascination for the Clown Prince of Crime and Batman's deal-breaking resolution at the end of it all. Basically, these two forces of nature, find themselves in one of their final showdowns yet this time Snyder actually gives us a real finality to the rivalry. That's the idea at least. To end the Joker, Batman must end himself. After all, they both represent supposedly unkillable ideas, one noble and the other nihilistic. By dying in a physical sense, Batman has also metaphorically severed the Joker's life who only seems to exist in direct opposition of who and Batman is to Gotham and the world he has created. It was an obvious answer that Snyder carefully crafted while also deeply understanding why these two men are inseparable as concepts. 

Now, we have the aftermath. Bruce Wayne is dead. This has happened before, of course,  during the Final Crisis big-event back in old continuity. Former first Robin Dick Grayson replaces him as the Dark Knight and we get a few epic stories from that, most notably my favorite The Black Mirror which was also penned by Snyder himself. At this point, it may not seem like a big deal to replace Wayne and put someone else under that costume since we all know he has to come back sooner and later, right? I think that's understandable but I still think it's rather exciting to have Snyder write and tackle another man taking over that Bat-mantle, only this time there was no big battle of the cowl amongst his Robins. This time law enforcement stepped in and asked a retired marine and trustworthy officer of the law...and it's no other that the former police commissioner and recently exonerated James Gordon. I have to confess that this was a shock to me only because I stayed away from any spoilers that may have trickled in comics news websites before this issue was officially released. But after five pages or so, I started to guess that Gordon was the one chosen to wear the mask--and represent it for different purposes. 

Who appointed him as the new Batman? A new female character I am not sure whether to trust or not. She is a wealthy, affluent woman of resources and a billion-dollar enterprise so of course she has other agendas. One can only hope it aligns with Gordon and everyone else's in Gotham who has the city's best interests at heart.  

The narrative was invigorating for this issue as we jump back and forth from the present action sequence while Gordon as the new Bat tries to apprehend criminals to the flashback scenes showing his reluctance and eventual acceptance of the responsibility. The idea of Jim Gordon as the new Batman is for me definitely interesting because I've always considered the guy as one of my all-time fave characters in fiction in general so I would love to see him take the center-stage. Moreover, there is so much room for possible arcs and character conflicts with a former police commissioner now being a sponsored vigilante working with the law. It's a great, informed decision to explore this angle especially when we further get to see the contrast between Bruce Wayne and Gordon as their own heroes.  After all, it takes a certain training regimen and discipline to be Batman, and you have to wonder how Gordon will cope with the difficulties that may entail both physical and psychological setbacks. Speaking of the physical, Gordon dons more of an armor as oppose to a costume. It's reminiscent of the JLA-designed Hell-bat suit. It was described as the "ROBOBAT-BUNNY" which Gordon should totally get trademarked. Weirdly enough, Gordon still has a costume underneath which I did not like because it resembled too much of the Batman Beyond style, a version of Batman I am still having problems with. So seeing Gordon in the same get-up didn't please me...though I can't deny he looks good for someone his age. 

That being said, I would gladly settle for the Robobat Bunny armor instead. It's only the first installment so I have no uniform thoughts for the story and approach as of yet but it definitely has a promising premise and I look forward to how the events will unfold as the next issues come. The truth for the matter is that I don't want Bruce Wayne coming back so so soon. His absence must be felt deeply as well as Alfred's. God, I hope we get something Alfred-centric soon. 

More importantly, I want Gordon to be given a chance in the role as the new Dark Knight, and how Gotham as a city and the villains and crooks living in it will react and adapt to this new, exciting change. 


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