Review by Paul Bowler
Some months have passed since the Joker unleashed the Endgame virus on Gotham City. Now in Batman #41 we rejoin a city whose infrastructure and citizens are far from healed. Gotham’s Dark Knight has fallen, but a new era will rise, one where Jim Gordon take over the fight against crime following Batman’s demise – equipped with an advanced high-tech Bat-Suit – to become the all new Batman and protector of Gotham City!
Following the epic showdown between Batman and the Joker in Endgame, the time has come to discover where Snyder Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s next major story-arc will take us. After all the teasing images and New Comic Book Day sneak peeks the “All New Batman” finally makes his debut in Batman #41, as Scott Snyder’s fifth year in Gotham ushers in a whole new direction for Batman when Jim Gordon suits up as Gotham’s new robotic Dark Knight.
The people of Gotham are still recovering from the carnage that Endgame wrought upon the city and their lives. Batman has seemly perished along with the Joker during their fateful final battle. A new Bat-Signal beams down from the night sky as Jim Gordon gets ready to hit the streets in his new Bat-Suit, plummeting from a modified airship to face a bio-electrical creature attacking Little Cuba in the Narrows. After months of training and indecision, the time has finally come for Jim Gordon to find out if he’s ready to be Batman!
Endgame was certainly a game changer, in every respect. So, how do you follow that? Easy, instead of just putting someone else in the cape and cowl who we might’ve expected to carry on the legacy of the Dark Knight, Scott Snyder boldly circumvents the been there, done that, and already got the T-Shirt approach to bring us something far more innovative and unexpected in Batman #41 as Jim Gordon takes centre stage in the new Bat-Suit. The GCPD’s most stalwart Police Commissioner and former Marine is the third character Scott Snyder has written for in the Batman suit. This issue really allows Jim Gordon a chance to shine like never before as Snyder intercuts present events with Jim’s journey to becoming Batman over the last three months, from his initial meeting with Geri Powers, to sharing his thoughts with Harvey Bullock about the project, the ingenious narrative approach will keep you thinking “Bat-Thoughts” all the way, and it even knowingly speaks to some fans reservations when Jim claps eyes on the Nano-Carbon “Robobat-Bunny” suit for the first time.
This issue also introduces Geri Powers, the CEO of Powers International, who has big plans to honour the memory of Batman’s work, one what will shape the very future of law enforcement in Gotham City. Jim and Geri have a lot in common, and their banter makes for some of the issues best moments. They seem to share a vision to restore peoples trust in the city and the systems which run it, the GCPD didn’t exactly do a very good job protecting Gotham’s citizens during the Endgame crisis, so their new Batman will become an extension of Gotham City itself rather than being perceived as an outlaw, and hopefully rebuild faith in the city.
Greg Capullo’s art is as exceptional as we’ve come to expect from his work on this series. His portrayal of Gotham is as impressive as ever, Capullo seamlessly melds current events with the flashbacks, and it’s fascinating to see these insights into Gordon’s path to accepting his new role as Batman. Danny Miki’s inks complements Capullo’s art perfectly, bringing added intensity and clarity to every page, while FCO’s exquisite colors and tones heighten the emotional impact of Batman’s demise while balancing it with the exciting debut of the new robotic-suited Batman.
From the opening monologue in the twilight, to the stark symbolism of the new Bat-Signal mirroring how much things have changed since Endgame, though to Jim’s first mission in the Bat-Suit – and just for the record, I loved the app for those color schemes – the times they sure are a changing. The suit itself is a terrific design, one that’s bristling with high-tech wizardry, armaments, gadgets, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, it also possesses incredible agility that belies the suits size. It’s not long before Batman is going toe to toe with the bioelectric creature in Little Cuba, the battle is intense to say the least, but it is Jim’s experience and quick thinking that soon pins down who is actually controlling the creature and where they really are.
Capullo has also given Gordon a new look. Jim has been hitting the gym – no pun intended – and the training has certainly paid off. Thrown in a new buzz cut, lose the moustache, and 46 year-old Gordon looks completely different – younger even, ripped, but still very much the Jim Gordon of old. Does it stretch credibility too far? Well, perhaps just as tad, but once you actually see Jim in action wearing the new suit and get on board with his reasoning behind what he’s trying to accomplish by becoming Batman, everything just seems to click into place, and holy Bat-Bot Batman, does that bunny-eared robo-suit have some tricks up its sleeves! This is a Batman working inside the law, as part of the system, but more importantly it gives credence as to why Jim needs to be physically fit, he can’t always rely on the power of the high-tech Bat-Suit, as being the right man to be Batman sometimes means using stealth rather than bruit force to get the job done…
Batman #41: Superheavy Part 1 confidently sets up this brand new story arc in fine style, it might be all monsters and robots on the surface, but its the underlying themes of what Gordon and Powers are trying to achieve that knits everything together so well. Jim has been provided with a great supporting cast of characters too, I especially liked the scene with Lieutenant Bullock, there’s even a new “cave” of sorts, and it all makes the transition into this new era that much easier to accept – if anything it feels like a completely natural progression of events following Endgame.
So… is Batman #41 any good, does this new Jim-Bat concept really work, that’s the burning question isn’t it? Well, it’s difficult to decide after only one issue, but I‘d say that Snyder and Capullo have played an absolute blinder here. It does work, it’s as though they’ve spliced the classic Batman elements with the GCPD, added a Sci-Fi sheen of Robocop, and the result is probably one of their boldest, action-packed, and most off-the-wall stories ever. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still not 100% completely sold on the idea, but it did genuinely surprise me just how good this new Bat-Bot / Jim Gordon storyline actually turned out to be.
This may not be the Batman we are accustomed to, but it’s going to be a blast to see how Jim Gordon settles into his new role and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Gotham’s Nano-Carbon Dark Knight. Snyder and Capullo have certainly defied all our expectations once again! Gotham’s new robotic-suited protector makes an impressive debut in Batman #41, in a slick, exhilarating, and thrilling new storyline – together with a killer final page to round off the issue – I have a feeling that Jim Gordon’s tenure as Batman is going to be pretty damn good!