Whoever helmed those first 3 issues is definitely back in the driver seat.  We don’t get action in this issue but what we do get is a bunch of great dialogue between fleshed out characters.  And when I say great dialogue, I mean the best Eternal has shown us thus far.  This issue feels like a nice regrouping point in the story, where we are setting up new teams and establishing what their goals are.

The interplay between Batman and Gordon in this issue is as good as it has ever been.  You really get a feeling that these are two old war heroes who are still fighting the good fight.  Friends who have been forged through the worst the world could throw at them, who would do anything to protect the other.  I really like how Batman could have been out there trying anything to push this case forward and find evidence but instead he is just being there for Gordon.  This act really shows that Gordon is more than just a police contact for Batman.  Sometime,s there is nothing we can do to help our friends, but just being there for them makes a world of difference to them.  It reminded me of the Officer Down story line from 2001 in which Gordon is seriously wounded and in a coma.  Instead of running around and trying to find the killer, Batman leaves that task to the rest of the Batfamily and just stays with Gordon at the hospital.  Obviously not the same plot, but it brought to mind the same feelings.

We always see criminals who should have been killed a hundred times over getting prison sentences or sent to Arkham so that writers can use them again and again.  The in-world excuse is that the court systems don’t function properly.  The funny thing about this is that for the first time we would have been happy to have seen the courts leniency as it pertained to Gordon.  Putting your character in a terrible predicament with an easy out doesn’t make for riveting story telling at all, so for the sake of the story the courts now work right.  A minor conundrum for an otherwise amazing scene.  At first I was super thrilled with how adept Gordon’s Defense Attorney was, then I realized it was the Prosecutor and my hopes for Gordon plummeted.

Mikel Janin is handling the art in this one, and let me tell you, he sure knows how to draw a face.  Some artist have a tendency to draw faces too similarly from one character to another but here we are presented with great diversity among not just the main characters but the extras in the back of the room too!  Not only that, but the expressions on the faces are beautifully rendered and absolutely full of emotion.  In the courtroom scene, Gordon never says a word but through the expertly delivered  drawings of Janin we know exactly what Gordon is thinking.  There is also great attention to details given to the backgrounds as well.  In the Bard apartment scene, we can see paint peeling on the wall and ceiling and I even got a sense of water damage from the textures that were employed.  A couple of small details I liked were the bluebird on Harper’s laptop and the fact that you could see the Batman eye slits through the visor on the police helmet.

I had two small gripes with the art but it is more to do with a continuity error and a general misunderstanding of the mechanics of computers than anything.  When Batman meets with Bullock and Bard, we first see him standing on the same floor they are.  In the next panel, he is seen looking down on them from above with impact marks drawn by his feet as if he had just jumped down to that point from up above.  Are we saying that he jumped up there just for a cool pose and then came down again to talk to them?  The other issue was with the representation of computer hacking.  That isn’t what it looks like.  When you hack something it doesn’t look like magically rendered CGI from a Tron movie.  Even if it did and that operating system was a special one written by Robin, how could Harper’s laptop visually render a program that it wasn’t designed to?

I know I have said this before but I don’t like those Batman knee pads, and they went and put them right on the cover.  They are super huge, ugly, and in your face.  Just look at those things!

Cameo Counter:2

Lois Lane and Basil Karlo.  Karlo is only mentioned by name.  He is the first Clayface who started out as an actor before turning to a life of crime.

Today’s Interesting Facts are in the spoilers.

Spoiler

Interesting Facts:

  • When most of us think of Gordon’s son, we are reminded of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller.  But did you know that Gordon had a son pre-crisis.  Gordon’s son was introduced in the 1950’s and wasn’t a Jr. back then.  Anthony Gordon was his name but he went by Tony.  He was reintroduced to us in the 70’s in Batman Family #12(1977).  For this particular fact I am going from memory so forgive me if it is a little off.  Tony was part of some secret government organization and they faked his death so that he could take out some super criminal organization without them knowing he was on their trail.  Even Barbara and Jim thought he was dead.  The story ended in Detective Comics #482(1979) with Tony taking out the criminal organization with the help of Batgirl but he ended up dying to achieve this goal.  This is in the spoiler section cause it gives away the surprise guest on the last page.
  • Batman Family!  “What the heck is that!”, you say.  The above mentioned Batman Family was a comic that ran from 1975-1978.  It was one of those 80-page giant format books.  It contained original stories along with reprints from the 40’s-60’s.  When it was cancelled in 78 the main story lines were wrapped up in Detective Comics.  Many times we hear people refer to the peripheral characters in the Batman universe as the Batfamily.  This is where that term originates from.

Spoilers:

  • When Bullock is talking about calling Batman with an old phone number I couldn’t help but think of the red Batphone, tucked away in the cave somewhere, going off.
  • Couldn’t Bruce have just come to court as himself and sat in the back.  Isn’t it more suspicious to be sitting there with glasses and a cap on.  I know he wanted Gordon to know he was there for him but it seemed kind of off to me.  What if someone had recognized him.  I was good with the cop disguise but the courtroom one was pushing it.
  • Why did they let Pyg keep his mask on?  What was Robin going to ask Pyg?
  • Did Batgirl drive to Brazil?  She isn’t rich like Bruce.  I kind of guessed that she flew economy and had her suit in some kind of high tech suitcase to hide it from scans but that wouldn’t explain how she got the Batcycle there.
  • Obviously we are going to find out what Bard’s plan is but what I really want to know is what is this evidence he has, how did he get it, and when?  They better not skim over these details.
  • The New52 version of Batgirl seems to solve all her problems by punching them.  Even before her dad got arrested.
  • Isn’t a jury supposed to have no knowledge about a case that they are assigned to?  The prosecutor is speaking to the jury as if they do.  Seems to me that if any of them had been helped by Gordon in the past then the jury would be biased.

Recommended if…

  • you love when Batman and Gordon open up and talk about a little bit more than just work.
  • you’re a fan of courtroom dramas.
  • insanely well written dialogue is where you draw entertainment from. (Even Bullock has a nice touching moment)
  • you’re a fan of expressive and diversely drawn faces.
  • you’re a fan of Mikel Janin.  I am now.

Overall:

Lots of setup but with a perceived payoff of monstrous proportions.  The expertly crafted dialogue should keep most fans fully entertained right to the last page.  And that prosecution’s opening statement, just wow!

SCORE: 8.5/10