Batman # 42 “Superheavy” Part 2
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo
Inks by Danny Miki
Colors by FCO Plascencia
This month I have the pleasure of reviewing Batman, and I have to say, it’s slightly daunting compared to my usual titles. I mean this is freaking Batman! It carries some weight! I haven’t second guessed writing a review since I started writing my very first review, and I didn’t have reservations with this until I sat down to read the issue. I literally thought, “What in the hell am I doing writing this review? I haven’t been fond of this arc. I’ve been highly critical of robo-Bats, and I think this is Snyder and Capullo’s worst launch to an arc yet… And THIS is the issue I’m going to review?” Thankfully, once I started reading the actual issue, my hesitation subsided.
This might shock some of you, but my opinion on this arc is beginning to change. Yes, I’m actually admitting that I’m growing to like this whole Gordon as Batman bit… keep your snickering to a minimum. So let’s start there: robo-bats Gordon. It’s been driving the most conversation, and it’s what I’ve been the most critical of to date. I doubt many of you need a refresher, but in case you do…
Batman apparently died after the Joker’s last attack on Gotham city. In his absence many felt that a “Batman” was needed – at least in theory – and in response, the GCPD initiated their own Batman program thanks to technology provided by Powers Industries. Together, they selected one of their own to secretly take this mantle… And we now know that this man is Jim Gordon.
I’ve had a few issues with this concept, and they’ve been driving my lack of satisfaction. First and foremost, having someone replace Batman is a little tired. I feel like it’s been done quite a bit within a relatively short period of time. Aside from that though, I’ve had a major issue with this “need” to have a Batman. I mean, we didn’t actually get to see any of Gotham’s time without Batman or robo-Bats, so we have no foundation to build on. We didn’t get to see how bad it was. We didn’t get to see the city struggle… It’s just been referenced. It’s the same issue I had with Batman Eternal, we were constantly being told how bad things were, and how Batman was tired and being pushed to his limits… but we never really saw it. I’m a proponent for show, don’t tell, and we’re not getting that here… Which is a shame, because some of Snyder’s best work is when he treats Gotham as a character rather than a backdrop. Had we seen Gotham moving swiftly on the down-slope, I’m sure we would’ve been calling for someone to take up the mantle as well… But we didn’t see that… And we didn’t see any of the other members of the Bat family looking for help either, so to me, Gotham doesn’t need a Batman.
My other issue was who they chose for Batman. I could never see Gordon stepping into the cape and cowl… unless Batman himself asked him to. Last month’s issue toyed with this idea, and Gordon was essentially convinced that Gotham needed a Batman. But even with the explanations into it, I still didn’t believe Gordon would ever actually choose to wear that suit. Everything was just too easy – including Gordon’s ability to get into impeccable shape. Motivation is big for me. It falls in line with my idea of cause and effect. Gordon wasn’t strong-armed into this, he chose to do it… and I don’t believe he would ever openly choose this based on what we’d seen.
This month, we delve into the “need” for Batman a little more, and in my opinion, Snyder does a much better job at getting me to believe Gordon would put on the Bat suit and call himself Batman. Rather than focus on why Batman is needed, Snyder, instead uses Julia to create a discussion on what made Batman who he was. It’s one of the best moments in the entire issue as we really got to see how similar Bruce and Jim are. Bruce will do whatever it takes to help his city, and for him that outlet was Batman. Gordon, who is very much like Bruce in the respect that he will do anything to help Gotham, and has always done so within the confines of the law… Now, he’s just doing it with more tools and more capabilities, and even though he’s “Batman,” he’s still operating within the law and doing things his way. Between this, and Gordon’s internal monologue throughout the first quarter of the book where he questions why he’s doing this, and doubt within himself, I started to actually believe him. It wasn’t necessarily a need for Batman, it was just a tool for him to do more to help his city.
And ironically with this solidification, we get a glimpse into Gordon’s “first super-villain,” Mr. Bloom. While we don’t get to see the character, we do learn what he’s up to after a connection is made between four corpses – all of whom are tied to Gordon. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to give too much away, but it did remind me of the Amazo Virus arc from Justice League a little. I will admit that Mr. Bloom does appear to be more interesting than I thought he might be… so that’s a plus. I feel a little better about moving forward with that character, I just hope Scott Snyder remembers one thing… motivation.
Between this month and last month, Snyder has put a lot of effort into showing us Gordon as Batman. Unfortunately, I feel like he’s neglecting two thirds of this equation that could potentially be more interesting than robo-bats. What are these two elements? The first is Powers Corp and their involvement with this project. Why did they really get involved with this Batman project? How does it benefit them? They’re a business… money is their one, true god. There’s more to this, and I hope we get more than just a “shocking reveal” that they’re the bad guys. (I’m not the only one that feels that it’s clear that they’re bad guys, right?)
The second element is…. A bit spoilery, so it’s in the spoiler tag!
Bruce Wayne. I mean, come on! If there’s one thing I want to know about, it’s this… What in the hell is he doing? He’s clearly alive. People seem to know he’s a live… I’m assuming that people who know he’s Batman know that he’s still alive… and he’s playing house with Julie Madison? Umm… So… Did he just stop being Batman because he’s over it? Because, I don’t by that… That brings up the argument of who’s real: the man or the mask? I can’t see Bruce giving up. Now, if he’s recovering (he took a hell of a beating after all), then yeah, I get it. But give me something to go off.
And while we’re in the spoilers, what is up with Duke Thomas? That character is all over the place in terms of consistency. Between We Are Robin and this, I’m finding myself confused as to when these stories take place. Bruce is helping Julie, Duke is with them… Gordon is hiding in the closet like a sex offender waiting to tell Bruce he’s Batman… It’s all really weird.
I know most of this review is calling out issues I have with this arc, but ultimately I think it’s a good read. There’s some fun action, a potentially promising villain lurking in the shadows, and Snyder is damn good with dialogue. I can’t deny him that. Whenever he slows down to focus on the characters, he hits a home run. I can only imagine how good his books would be if he stopped trying to make the “next big thing.” I’m being more critical of him than I would of others, but I expect more from this team. Even Capullo’s art looks as though he’s disinterested in this arc. There’s usually a couple of moments within each issue that I think, “Damn… Greg Capullo kicks ass!” and I’m blown away by a panel or page… but two issues into this new arc, and I haven’t felt that excitement once… Saddly, for the first time, I’ve stated that something Capullo has done on Batman was terrible (Maggie Sawyer… who looks like a white male addicted to meth).
You silly people! I’m not Brandon!!! Check back next month for some interesting facts.
- You enjoy seeing Gordon receive some of the spotlight.
- The concept of a police organized “Batman” intrigues you.
- You want to see Gordon gobble up a candy cigarette
Overall: In my opinion, this isn’t a Batman book at the moment. It’s a Gordon book that appears to be stumbling while finding it’s footing in Batman’s world. That’s not a bad thing, but right now, the potential is definitely exceeding the delivery.