Batman 46

batman 46

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.

bloomm

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.

maywage

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.

Batman 46

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.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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9 comments on “Batman 46

  1. One of my problems with this arch so far is that Mr.Bloom has done very little to differentiate himself from the Joker. Sure, he’s got weird flower/weed based powers, but when he crashes Geri Powers’ announcement ceremony/party, kills people while making jokes like “have some dip”, and then mocks the futility of Batman’s attempts to save the day because his symbol has become meaningless, it’s hard not to draw parallels to all the times the Joker has done the exact same things. (The Dark Knight in particular comes to mind.) Maybe that’s the point, and Snyder is trying to introduce a super powered Joker to face off against an Iron Man-esque Batman, but it just feels too soon after End Game. I want to see a new type of villain, not a wannabe of the “nihilistic Joker” archetype.

    • I think you are reading Mr Bloom wrong. He is certainly supposed to be Gordon’s Joker, but me is distinctly different from the Joker. The Joker is nihilism incarnate, the idea that nothing is meaningful. Mr Bloom is acutely aware of how meaningful everything is. The point isn’t that he crashes the party making jokes. The point is that he tells the party, with a large degree of sarcasm and irony, how it is all their fault. That is was their work that created him. When Bloom discusses how the symbol has become meaningless, it is more to do with what it means that Batman is now a police entity, instead of a greater point of the meaninglessness of Batman’s crusade. The Joker would never do stuff like that. He would make jokes about nothing they do means anything. To quote the man himself, Mr Bloom talks about how ‘the good folk who toil relentlessly to make Gotham… exactly what it is today’

      In fact, I was about to say something of him being the Anti-Joker, but I think Snyder already said that in an interview (shocker, the writer understands his villain). Still, that’s because he is right. The Joker is about how everything means nothing. Mr Bloom is about how each and every little thing people do has meaning, changes things. That the world we live in is because of everyone’s choices, and all the evils that exist, exist because we have made choices to create a world that lets that evil in. Whether it is Blossom Row falling into disrepair, or where Bruce Watne doesn’t understand the people of the Narrows, or whether it was… well, anything else from Batman 44.

  2. Damn, I love Mr Bloom at the start. ‘You give yourselves over to Gotham so that amazing things can grow here… things like me’ is a wonderful line. Mr Bloom is the product of the failings of Gotham, as Batman 44 illustrated, and how he revels in it at the start is fantastic. And him actually supporting the fundraiser while talking about how he likes what Geri Powers is doing is fantastic. He’s stating the the system is fundamentally broken. Also, using the Batsymbol as an electromagnet after Bloom discusses how Gordon has made the symbol meaningless is inspired.

    I don’t mind that Bruce has no interest in his past. That’s the point of the exercise. Without the tragedy of Batman, he doesn’t feel the need. He cares more about doing good for the kids of the community centre or spending time with his girlfriend. It is easy to understand being impatient for him to come back, and it is one of those hard things you have to deal with when reading superhero comics. But while I know it is coming, I’m also happy to see that Bruce doesn’t want to. Will make the final return meaningful.

    Duke Thomas is not fully working yet, as he in showing interest in dealing with Bloom, but is currently so separate from the story. Next issue, when we learn what he knows, things will be better.

    Ultimately, though, it all comes back to Bloom. There is a reason Bloom is so happy with how the Batman project is going. It is because he understands it, and they are playing into his hands. He is someone who knows the structures of Gotham, and manipulating it. Bloom is the product of Gotham’s failings, and that’s why Gordon wanted to go in alone. As sending an army of Batmen at Bloom which just deepen the harm of Gotham’s broken systems, give Bloom more power.

    Though I think next issue will be a big one, where the pieces will start to really click into place. Where Bloom truly gets to come into his own. Where Duke Thomas’ role becomes clear. Where Bruce truly has to make a choice about the two paths he can take. I do think this one treaded water slightly

    Also, jsut want to say, I’d recommend readers here read Emma Houxbois’ reviews of Batman at the Rainbow Hub. She is a great comic critic, but is doing an especially brilliant job finding some amazing insights in Batman recently, even if I don’t always agree with each and every one. Some fascinating stuff like how Mr Bloom is using the tactics of an insurgency

    http://www.therainbowhub.com/batman-46-review/

  3. “…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. ”

    Some of us, possibly many of us, are amazingly content with the families we ended up with, and why or why not we choose to invest time and money into searching for people who may or may not have any meaning to us at all is quite our own business. And it’s very likely that it’s not willful ignorance or being content to ignore our mysterious circumstances.

    On a different note, this issue felt extremely flat to me. Sorry DC, I don’t care about Duke. I really don’t. I am one of those that needs to be reminded every issue that his parents were captured by Joker and have disappeared, because I don’t ever remember anything about them. I tried Robins, and that seemed to lack character growth on any level other than, “Being any Robin is dangerous”.

    Brainwiped Bruce is boring, too. I was sort of taken by surprise by the proposal. I really hadn’t been paying attention at all to Bruce. I assumed they’d let me know when he was back to being important. Maybe this is the sign, but I had no idea at all that he and Julie were there.

    Bloom is a great new character, but he has a plan and it’s been months since we’ve met him and we still don’t really know it. Maybe it was make a mess and kill Batman and… umm, be a terror?

    I like this run of Batman, and this issue was fine, it just felt like there was a lot of stuff I didn’t expect this storyline to be about and not enough “What does it mean to Gotham that Gordon is now Batman and what does it mean to Gordon that Gordon is now Batman?” Instead we get Robin 17 and Bruce and Geri. At least Geri is keeping Gordon on his toes.

    • It certainly is 100% your business. I meant no offense, I was only expressing my potential personal curiosity on such a situation. Not making a sweeping statement on adoption and biological parents in any way whatsoever. 👍

      • Oh, I know. I took no offense, but there was no way for me to address the issue without inadvertently sounding like I did, so I replied, but it’s cool.

        I have no recollection of being told that I was adopted. I don’t think it was traumatic and I’ve blocked it out but rather I’ve known my whole life. I’m lucky, the only people I’ve ever called mom, dad, and brother (and other assorted aunts and uncles and grandparents, etc) are fantastic people and I’ve never felt like anything but part of my family. I *know* my family, and it’s the one I’ve known for 45 years.

        However, it’s occurred to me every now and then, but not out of my own curiosity, because there legitimately is none. It’s actually only out of a sympathetic idea that possibly there is a woman or a man out there that still wonders if they did the right thing so long ago.

        For that, I’ve sometimes thought I should let them know that they did.

    • There is a reason I think the next issue will be a big one. With Batman captured by Mr Bloom, Duke having stolen key information from the Icebird Lounge and Bruce aware that one of his charges has stolen dangerous technology from him, I think all three of the key storylines are going to kick into high gear. Once that happens, all three characters will get properly tested, and I think it will be the moment where we learn if Duke is a character that is going to stick around

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