Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Batman 46 originally released November 11th, 2015.
Michael: Batman 46 continues Scott Snyder’s ongoing query into what the legacy of Batman really means. The frightening Mr. Bloom continues to perform his preferred method of murder by poking his razor fingers through the bodies of various Gotham elite. Gordon and Julia momentarily put Bloom out of commission before he makes his inevitable escape. Geri Powers reveals a whole army of robo-batsuits and tells Gordon how she knows where Bloom is hiding and is going to mount an attack on him. Gordon pleads to let him get Bloom himself because he knows that this is all Bloom’s trap, which it is. Meanwhile, we have a brief scene where Bruce once again reassures Julie that he is not the same man and proposes to her. Another side story involves Duke Thomas breaking into The Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge in order to track down his missing parents and Mr. Bloom.
I still am pretty clueless as to what Bloom’s plan is at this point, but he seems to indicate that it is going to be in motion very shortly. Snyder’s Batman stories are always also stories about Gotham as a living, breathing, city; making me wonder if Mr. Bloom is supposed to be the next level of this character of Gotham. Bloom is being made out to be this timeless boogeyman — a twisted weed that has grown throughout the cracks of Gotham City. I think it stands to reason that Snyder intends Bloom to be symbol of Gotham’s persistent corruption throughout the ages. The jury is still out on whether or not Bloom is an ageless evil (which kind of reminds me of “The Pale Man” Joker from Endgame) but he seems to have his own theories about Batman’s legacy — or lack thereof.
Bloom says to Gordon “Because of you ‘Bat’ has lost all its meaning. That’s the real feat…the great symbol has no power in Gotham anymore.” When he first came onto the scene, The Joker was a symbol of something new and different in Gotham: “The Dawn of the Freak.” If you buy into my “Bloom is Gotham City” bit, then he could be the symbol of something old, something that knows Gotham at its core. Bloom sees how Batman’s legacy has sold out and become a faceless corporate machine, run by Geri Powers. Geri Powers goes on about how Batman was a man who stood next to gods and that her Batman initiative is about the people becoming they’re own superheroes. But maybe Bloom believes that when you give that kind of power to the people, it becomes meaningless. After all, Bloom is a man who makes Faustian bargains by bestowing superpowers to people that are all too brief. In a way it’s like Syndrome’s argument in The Incredibles: “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”
The more I see this “clean slate” Bruce Wayne, the less I like him. I know the point is that he is not the detective that Batman was, but he’s being willfully ignorant. The answers to pretty mysterious circumstances that surround him are out there, but he’s just content to ignore them? It kind of reminds me of adopted children who grow up to have no interest whatsoever in meeting their biological parents. While I can understand that, I just don’t know if I could repel that kind of curiosity in my own life. Then again, Bruce still does seem to have that “know-it-all detective” in him.
As Julie prepares to drop what she assumes will be a bombshell on him about her father he bluntly cuts her off and tells her that he already knows. He dug deep into Julie’s past without her knowledge but refuses to do the same for himself? I dunno about that. Since she popped up a few issues back I haven’t really have an opinion about Julie Madison either way. Bruce’s abrupt proposal made me question her common sense however. You can’t really put a logical science to comic book amnesia, but if I was Julie I would raise a harsh eyebrow to a marriage proposal from a man who A) is not the boy I knew and loved once upon a time and B) was kinda/sorta born yesterday. That just seems crazy to me.
Mark! How did you feel about Batman 46? Were you surprised that Snyder kind of hijacked his Duke Thomas character from We Are Robin to put him back in the Batman title? And finally here are my two lingering Bloom questions: How did Bloom know Jim was behind the cowl? And how exactly did he rig “rookie” to attack Jim? Is controlling machines also in his skill set?
Mark: It does seem like Bloom has some control over electricity, so maybe that extends to machines. If my memory is correct, the first thing Gordon fights back in Batman 41 is a giant electric monster. Was the source of that ever determined? Could it be Bloom? My wild guess based on no information is that Bloom is someone close to the Gotham City Police Department, or someone who was close to the Department. I’ve stated my problems with Gordon/Batman (many) times previously and I won’t rehash them here. I understand his blandness is probably part of the overall theme for this Batman arc. But I will say that if Bloom is connected to the Police Department, or at least to Gordon’s past, that would help bring his character into sharper focus. I’ll still be frustrated that it took so many issues to get to that point, but it’d be a welcome relief.
Gordon’s knowledge of Gotham is probably second only to Bruce Wayne. It’s partly the reason he felt the need to take on the mantle of Batman. So no matter Bloom’s identity, he’s a great villain for Gotham city. Bloom has made himself a part of Gotham. He’s a weed that was allowed to grow unchecked in the many cracks of Gotham, the many ignored parts of Gotham, and now Bloom’s determined to choke the whole city.
As for dumb-dumb Bruce Wayne, on a purely aesthetic level I appreciate Capullo having Bruce give Dick Grayson a run for title of sexiest male DC character. I mean, there’s no way Bruce in the shower is anything but deep, not unwelcome, pandering. Still, as handsome as he is, I agree that there’s nothing particularly compelling about “clean slate” Bruce at this point. We’ve seen flashes of interest in past issues, like building playground equipment out of Batcave accouterment. But the willful ignorance is a bit much, especially when you consider that everyone is dropping rather unsubtle hints about his past. But maybe that’s the point. Bruce is being willfully ignorant. By trying to not be tied down by his past he’s bound to get caught up in it. How can you make informed decisions without any context? Bruce has no idea the kind of danger he is putting Julie in. At least when Batman’s boning he has the resources to handle whatever crazy comes his way.
And is Duke Thomas looking for information on his parents’ whereabouts at the New Iceberg Lounge? It’s a plot thread I’m profoundly uninterested in at this point (their capture by Joker was frankly one of the weaker/weirder moments of Endgame), but I assume it’s going to be germane later so I’m withholding judgement until we see how it all plays out.
God, I feel like every time I write about Batman recently I do nothing but complain. There’s a lot of wait and see in play here. I know others are enjoying Gordon Batman more than me, so I imagine it’s a much more satisfying read if you’re in that camp. As someone less sold, I’m eager for the many disparate pieces to start coming together.
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