Comic Review: Batman (New 52) Volume 8

Writer Scott Snyder left a rather impressive run on Batman, working mostly with artist Greg Capullo, and while he did many things right on this series, there is one thing that I took notice of in some of the later stories:  showing what a valuable ally Commissioner Jim Gordon is.  Up until this point, that was perhaps most noteworthy in the weekly series Batman Eternal that ended with a splash panel showing Gordon standing in front of the other Batman allies and getting the badass line.

The last volume I read of Snyder’s work ended with Bruce Wayne and Batman missing.  That’s bad news, and Gotham does need a new Batman, so why not Jim Gordon?  That idea comes to light in the eighth volume, subtitled Superheavy.

How would Jim Gordon of all people become Batman?  He doesn’t appear to be the GCPD commissioner at the moment, but he’s still greatly tied to the force.  As such, it maybe doesn’t take a lot of effort to convince him to suit up in a large, armored Batsuit from Powers International, a tech company run by Geri Powers.  Powers sees Gordon, a former Marine, as the best possible option to take the role, and the armored suit has a few more surprises than it may look like at first glance.

However, there are some catches.  This Batman would work with the city and the police, coordinating his efforts to only appear for more public appearances or not at all, mostly as a means of propping up the city and the police department.  At first glance, you’d think this would work out fine for Gordon, but he is arguably someone who knows Batman very well (as much as anyone outside of a costumed ally can ever know Batman “very well”), and he chafes a bit at his restrictions, getting himself into trouble for doing things that he (and the reader) recognizes as things Batman would actually do.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne did re-emerge, but with some sort of amnesia.  Alfred is fine to let his longtime charge not remember his time as Batman for a very simple reason:  this is a Bruce Wayne who is actually happy and at peace.  The pain and anguish of losing his parents doesn’t consume him anymore, and this looks like we could get a glimpse of what Bruce could have been without that childhood tragedy.

All that said, there is a problem brewing in Gotham:  a new, bizarre crime lord called Mr. Bloom, a figure that appears like some sort of human weed, dispensing seeds that, once embedded in the flesh of various gang leaders, grant superpowers.  They also kill after a period when the radioactive core eventually poisons the user, something Bloom may not have mentioned to his affiliated troublemakers.  This figure may or may not be too much to handle for a new Batman or an amnesiac Batman.  But this is Gotham, and some Batman will have to stop him.

Oh, but not in this volume because it ends with a cliffhanger.

I liked this, cliffhangers aside.  There’s something weird and alien to Mr. Bloom, and as someone who flips through a trade before I start reading it, Gordon was almost unrecognizable, having shaved off his mustache, ditched the glasses, and given himself a mohawk to fit into the new Batsuit better.  He’s someone trying to do the right thing, and again, I really like how much Snyder worked on making Gordon a more integral part  of what makes Gotham tick.  Gordon’s always been Batman’s loyal ally, but this time around, he’s someone who could potentially fill in for the Dark Knight in emergencies.  Yes, he isn’t the same Batman, but his own conscience and sense of right and wrong and duty are leading him to be something of a hero in his own right.

Now if only the thing didn’t end on a cliffhanger…

8.5 out of 10 assistants in a blimp.

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