Review: Batman #41
My sentiments exactly. I have read this issue two times and I might as well be whisked away to a tower citadel on New Genesis via a boom tube watching a Darkseid hate parade complete with an effigy. This was out of this world! Now when this concept was leaked, no one and I.. mean.. no one was more skeptical than me. I have been a proud member of the “Bat Faithful” since before I could stand on my own two, in my crib watching reruns of the classic Batman TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward while singing along the theme song. (I mean it’s not hard as it’s only composed of one word repeatedly, but you get my drift) However, this was dead on. For many a decade people have wondered could someone else truly be Batman? Sure it’s been done before both with excellent execution (Batman R.I.P.: Dick Grayson) and with the poorest precision (cough Knightfall: Jean Paul Valley, cough) plus not to forget one of my personal favorites (Terry McGinnis: Batman Beyond) This though was truly different. We were told by DC’s own Dynamic Duo (Bat-Gods: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo) that they were going to attempt something that was never done before in the storied 75 plus years of the caped crusader, and by Rao, we got it.
The premise was a risky one to be sure, but man oh man was it ever worth the payoff. We start the issue with a full-page panel of a shadowed man sitting by his lonesome on a park bench in what is surely a period of deep reflection. The narration informs us new discoveries hidden in old principles we haven’t seen before, thus setting the tone for seeing things through a new and different lens. I found this fitting as our new Batman and we the audience, are about to do the same.
Turning the page I saw something I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen in the pages of a Batman comic before. The art showcases a giant hulking energy monster (yes you read that right, energy monster.) terrorizing the streets of Gotham and it’s citizens. Before we truly have a chance to ponder what kind of psychedelic mind warp we’ve stumbled ourselves into, our attention is thrust way up into the night skyline and..boom! Enter the all-new Dark Knight swooping down and brandishing HIS brand of nano carbon fiber heavy duty justice! (Even the most purest of critics have to admit this is a damn cool image) What gets me most about what we are viewing, is not the premise or plausibility. Come on now, a robot Batman? How ludicrous! No what is important here is the execution. While Batman (Jim Gordon) is hanging upside down perched on the GCPD Helicarrier magnetically (take that SHIELD!) he is having many thoughts rush through his mind. Thoughts like the how the Bat-Signal is supposed to shine up in the sky, not down at the ground. He thinks how he’s not plummeting down to Earth at an alarming rate, he’s swooping. He thinks last but not least, that none of it matters. He is not “Jim Gordon” anymore. He is Batman. This was so well done in my opinion, because Snyder and Co. address through Jim exactly what we the reader are feeling at the same time. Snyder doesn’t just shove it in our faces, he eases us into it. All the while having his first official “bat-tle” our hero gets to take us on a chronological journey of the events that led him into donning the mechanized cowl and how it wasn’t easy for him at first either. (Using empathy on behalf of the reader? Bravo sir. Bravo.)
First, right off the bat (heh, that was not on purpose) we get the explanation of the mecha-bat suit. We all are thinking the same thing as Jim here. That does not look like Batman. Then Mrs. Powers tries to sex it all up with some technical jargon and straight as an arrow, Jim replies with “That may be, but I still don’t see it. It’s like a.. bunny. Like a RoboBat Bunny?” Now anyone who has ventured to the comic book message boards in the past few months since the cover for this issue had been solicited has seen variations of this comment repeated numerous times. I think it’s very cool for the writer to address this right away. He doesn’t shy away from his critics, he runs toward them. However the explanation we get is, because it does and it will grow on you. It is at this point that if the reader was brave enough and trusting enough to turn the page they would be getting in on the ground floor on a new venture of greatness. We see Jim (Batman) show me and hopefully you why he’s so worthy of receiving the mantle. He tracks down the bad guy who apparently is a rogue member of the Whisper Gang (those who have followed Snyder’s run on this title from the beginning will know what I’m talking about) and in true detective fashion proves that brain almost always is better than brawn. Jim ditches the large Mecha Bat-suit as he realizes that the element of surprise would be lost. So in true Bat-fashion Jim outwits the villain and in the process displays one of the best Batman costumes I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, it’s so cool I guarantee people will be trying to replicate it all around Comic Cons.) I know I want one.
In the pages that follow, we are told through the characters dialogue mirroring what the writers are trying to accomplish here. Yes it’s dangerous what they are making. The possibility of alienating generations of readers while building a new Batman could be the most unnecessary risk in comic book history. However we live in a time where the classics are being constantly recycled and remade and rebooted. It is so nice to see a creator actually have the professional fortitude to go forth and bring us something NEW. At the end of the day, it isn’t just Jim Gordon who has to adapt to this. It is like we the readers have been asked to be Batman, with Jim as our artistic representative. He’s flawed, un-experienced, but he’s true, virtuous and always been Batman’s biggest fan. At the end of the day, don’t we all consider ourselves as Batman’s biggest fan? So you have to ask yourself. Who wouldn’t want to be Batman? Don’t you? I know I do.
Overall: This comic had so many geek out moments for me it’s hard to choose. From the rooftop conversation with his partner Harvey Bullock (we found out Jim is only 46) To seeing Alfred’s daughter Julia on Jim’s tactical team, to the Bat Hellicarrier and the writers addressing all our ridiculous concerns. Also the new Bat-suit when he steps out of the armor, my god the Bat-suit! it was just utter fanboy delight. I went from thinking how are we going to have a Batman without Bruce Wayne, to I hope they don’t bring him back. Too many moments here to mention for me. I don’t want to spoil them all but there is something for every bat-fan in it. So running the risk with the possibility of people suggesting that I should be locked up in Arkham Asylum, I’m giving this a 9.5 out of 10. Only reason it lost half a point is sadly, because the issue had to end.
Catch you here next time, New Bat-time, all new Bat-channel.
Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy