This issue is as fascinating as it is puzzling.  It’s a mixed bag of awesome and ghastly, logical and nonsensical, bewildering and intelligible….

Before I get to the review proper, I wanted to take a moment to discuss something that just occurred to me a couple of days ago.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to make this connection, but I think one of the reasons we are getting so much Gordon is because of the Gotham TV show.  Whenever film has highlighted a certain character, the comics have always followed suit and upped the usage of that particular character in order to provide casual viewers of the films a familiar face to welcome them into the comic world should they choose to expanded their love of the character to the medium.  The last most recent example of this was Bane showing up in 2 issues of The Dark Knight comic from 2012.  At the time, I thought it was peculiar because Bane had not yet been used in the New52.  His first appearance was almost a cameo.  Then it struck me….The Dark Knight Rises was about to come out.  Undoubtedly, film reaches a wider audience than comics.  It only makes sense for the industry to cash in on the free publicity generated by film and offer up some complementary product.  Whether you view this in a positive light or as a huge drawback, it is a facet that is firmly linked to the industry and worth ruminating over.  Now, on to the review.

Batman45.1Likening the creation of all existence to the coming of Batman.

Finally, something Snyder and I can agree on.

All kidding aside, Snyder continues to maintain a firm grip on delivering compelling dialogue.  No matter how long he goes on for, I’m always riveted by whatever he has the characters saying.  I was also very pleased to see that when Gordon is confronted with the thought of dying, his first instinct is to think of Barbara.  It’s a wonderfully humanizing moment right in the middle of what could have amounted to nothing more than a mindless action scene.  It was also a huge juxtaposition to show something so enlightening right next to a page filled with total barbarism.  Seriously!  What happens next rivals the viciousness and shock factor that occurred when I read the finale of Endgame.  (Some of those guys should definitely be in shock and unable to participate.)  While I don’t want to see Gordon fail, I applaud the realism.  Batman can handle a 6 to 1 fight.  What happens here is the only plausible outcome for Gordon with these kinds of odds.  It was 100 times more believable than what happened when Gordon miraculously took out the La Muerte gang from Detective Comics a few months ago and oddly satisfying.  While those are my positives for the opening, lets look at that same section, but highlight the troublesome areas instead.

Batman45.4

Here is my biggest moment of “what the hell is going on?” for this issue.  The Batsuit shows up to take out some bad guys.  Improvising, one of the thugs pulls an old rusted pipe off the surrounding machinery to create a makeshift weapon.  He even looks back at his boys, as if questioning what good a pipe is going to do against a giant robot.  You know what happens next?  He fires a missile out of it.  Let me give you a second for that to sink in…..he pulls a pipe off the wall and then fires a missile out of it.  Am I missing something here?  Is there some other way to interpret what just happened?  If there is, please help me….I’m so confused.

Batman45.3Yep.  That was pretty much my reaction too.

I was also left wondering how Gordon escaped from the trap.  It was left particularly vague.  I can’t believe that what he did would have solved all the obstacles.  I could go into excruciating detail here, but I’ll save you the trouble of reading all that and just say I wasn’t impressed.  The other thing that struck me as immensely odd was the diminished severity of his wounds.  I got the impression that he was dying.  Even his thought boxes begin to fade out as if his very life was slipping away.  Then we see him wandering about in the very next scene as if nothing happened.  Even if that was supposed to be a week later or something, it’s hard to believe that a realistic amount of time for him to have healed has passed.   It just doesn’t make any sense.

Batman45.5Umm, that’s because he ISN’T the Bruce you know.  Geez…

We also get a nice “Bruce”/Julie scene, but just like the rest of the comic, it’s a mixed bag for me.  I loved the fact that they address the lives of common Gotham citizens in this section, but it also draws into question why anyone would put up with this city.  It really is hell living in Gotham.  Phrases are thrown around like, “It’s always that way with a big attack” and “They’re just waiting for the next horror.”  Good God, are we talking about a city here or a military war zone.  It begs the question, why do these people even live here.  I don’t care if you have nothing outside the city, you leave and make a life elsewhere!  Nothing is worth staying in Gotham over.

Their scene also touched on the topic of Bruce taking his loss and turning it into a positive force for others.  This is one of the core elements of Batman to me.  The fact that Snyder devoted time to reminding us of this shows me that he recognizes the things that are important to the character. It made the fact that my least favorite scene stemmed from that all the harder to swallow.

Batman’s trophies get “destroyed”.  I say least favorite because I was personally offended by the scene, not because it was bad.  Story wise, it was a rather clever thing to do, it just didn’t sit right with me.  I’m sure that many of you, like me, have a collection of some sort or another.  Chances are, it is even a Batman collection.  I’m pretty attached to my stuff.  In some cases, I have stronger feelings for my stuff than I do for actual people.  Seeing a collection get destroyed was hard to watch.  These objects are as much a part of Batman as any element.  In some ways, it is almost disrespectful to the lore of the character.  First, Batman gets killed.  Then you tell us that Bruce is dead too.  Now the man himself is destroying the physical elements that tie him to his own past.  Snyder is just twisting the knife in me now.  I seriously can’t take much more of this.

Batman45.9WHAT!!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!

Don’t worry, she is just being facetious, but the question remains, why even say that?  I think it’s meant more for us than Gordon.  It’s meant to make us question something we assumed to be a given.  If you’re a villain, you don’t tell someone you are, not even jokingly.  At the same time, telling someone you’re the secret bad guy would make them dismiss you as an option.  Telling me you’re the bad guy means you obviously aren’t because why would you give that up?  Snyder is just messing with us now!  Then again, it is revealed that she has a giant over sized prop of something that is usually very small.  Only super villains do that.

While this issue raises plenty of questions, I’m sure we won’t follow half of those paths.  I have noticed that it is something that Snyder does frequently.  There are a dozen possible plot routes from previous stories that he postulated but never actually explored.  It makes me wonder how many of the fascinating ideas he brings up here won’t amount to anything more than what we have been given.

Greg Capullo is great!  I’ve said many time about how amazing his work is.  Praised his huge splash pages and lauded him for his excellent layouts and visual storytelling.  For this review, I’m going to pull it back for a second and talk about something small.  It may seem odd, because there are some brilliant pieces in this issue worth discussing, but I’m going to look at this one.

Batman45.8

Why?  To point out that Capullo does an outstanding job whether it’s a major image or not.  This isn’t meant to be a centerpiece.  It’s just a panel leading us through the story.  We aren’t meant to stop on it and reflect on how good it is (even if we should).  It’s not as cool as Batman jumping through a window or as dramatic as the Batsignal reflecting on the bottoms of clouds on a moonless night, but Capullo’s attention to detail makes it worth noting.  Look at all the different characters and outfit.  They are all so unique from one another, just like real life.  In the bigger scheme of things, this panel didn’t matter at all, but he put so much effort into capturing it and making this moment real.  I especially love the look on the face of the woman that Gordon is grabbing.  She looks disgusted and applaud that some commoner would have the audacity to touch her.  That single expression captures perfectly what a bunch of elitist snobs all these rich people truly are.  Hey, if I am going on this much about how good a “throw away” panel is, you know the rest of the art must be phenomenal.

Interesting Facts:

Batman45.2Homage alert!

  • Couldn’t help but think of this episode of Batman: The Animated Series when I saw the Batsuit pick up those Sharks and start using them as clubs.

Batman45.6Batman last BEYOND

Batman45.7Black Manta crashes the party?

Recommended if…

  • You want to see new Bruce acting with the disposition of old Bruce even if there isn’t a discernible reason as to why he should.
  • You’ve been waiting to see a realistic portrayal of Gordon fighting a group of thugs.
  • You want to spend some time getting to know the new Bruce.

Overall:

The story uses classic Batman imagery and elements but in an unexpected and sometimes shocking manor.  Death traps, over sized villain props, a skylight break through, and all manner of other instantly recognizable Batman iconography populate the landscape of this chapter.  I’ll admit to being super resistant to the current arc, so the fact that I found this issue as enjoyable as I did is a testament to Snyder and Capullo’s ability to take something that I am actively resisting and still find a way to make me enjoy it.  Much respect to them.

SCORE: 8 / 10