Batman 47

batman 47

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Batman 47 originally released December 9th, 2015.

Drew: I’ve complained before about the prescriptive nature of Chekhov’s Gun — that our awareness of Chekhov’s “rule” necessarily gives away elements of the ending. A great example of this is the first season of The Killing — I enjoyed it quite a bit, but Chekhov’s gun dictated that something must tie the mayoral campaign that features so heavily to the titular crime. The specifics can still surprise us, but we know we’re not being shown that stuff just for fun. Of course, the predictability of Chekhov’s rule loses its stranglehold on narratives that aren’t driven by plotting — say, a character study or a situational comedy. In those cases, we might actually be shown things just for fun (or nuance, or detail, etc). We tend to think of superhero comics as plot-driven narratives, but B-stories can often take on less plotty structures, as we learn more about a character, or are amused by their situation. It can be difficult, then, to know if a given element of a B-story represents a gun that will eventually go off, or just a portrait of someone who has a gun. These are the questions in my mind as Bruce grapples with his own obscured history in Batman 47.

That moment arrives after Bruce comes to Duke’s rescue at the Iceberg lounge. Bruce confronts Duke about taking these risks, but Duke turns it around on him, forcing Bruce to confront the past he’s chosen to ignore. He calls Bruce’s choices since “Endgame” selfish, asserting that nobody can do what he did as Batman. It’s a powerful moment, as Bruce is brought face-to-face with the demons he’s been hiding from.

CRAZY TRAIN

The other shoe drops as Bruce grapples with this reveal, as the Joker appears to be in the exact same position.

I might have thought I’d be tired of Batman’s tangoes with the Joker — especially after Scott Snyder’s insistence that he was laying that particular conflict to rest (at least for a while) — but I found this to be remarkably moving. If their conflict has this kind of mythological inevitability to it, how else could they deal with amnesia? Snyder and Greg Capullo drive this point home by staging their meeting under a lamppost that two moths seem just as mysteriously drawn towards.

Best Friends Forever

I’m not always a fan of the kind of fatalistic duality often drawn between Batman and Joker, but this may add an interesting enough twist on the formula to keep me interested. What would they be like if they weren’t grotesque opposites of one another, but just two regular people? What if becoming Batman was more explicitly tied to creating the Joker?

In any case, this story as a presumed new origin for Bruce-as-Batman makes some interesting changes to his mythology as we know it. In light of Duke’s speech, Bruce’s Batman is no longer defined by grief and privilege, but by a sense of responsibility. He needs to be Batman because he’s the best at it. That may elide Bruce’s skills as natural gifts rather than the result of an inhuman drive — a change I don’t love — but it also turns the tables on Bruce’s selfishness. He’s no longer fighting crime in the most reckless way possible because he’s selfishly driven to stop his own parents’ murders, but because Gotham actually does need it, and he’s the best person for the job.

But that’s a lot of reading in for what is ostensibly the B-story. I suspect we’ll have Gordon-as-Batman around for a good while yet, and there’s clearly some Chekhov’s guns yet to go off there. One of those kicks in just in the nick of time as Gordon battles Mr. Bloom — the “blocker” in the batsuit manages to mitigate Mr. Bloom’s powers, just as he was getting ready to land the killing blow. This puts Bloom in GCPD custody, but that might just be part of Bloom’s plan — seeds hidden around the city find hosts, creating a whole Bloom army ready to fight to rescue their leader.

I’m not entirely sure where Bloom will go with this, but the prospect of a Bloom army suggests that Gordon et al will have to raise their own Batman army, made up of those prototypes we met last month. Maybe that will be cool? I don’t know, I’m so invested in Bruce’s story now, I can barely muster much interest in the non-Bruce stuff. I mean, he’s the gun that’s going to go off before this is all over, right?

Mark: Well as someone who has only ever cared the bare minimum about Gordon-as-Batman, I’m right there with you in anticipating Chekov’s Bruce Wayne getting fired off.

But I admit to being just a little bit bothered by the way Bruce is forced to confront the truth, because I feel like Snyder has a gaping hole in his Bruce Wayne story: Damian. Having Duke be the one to push Bruce into confronting the truth of his past is fine (I guess you can count it as delayed payoff to the worst part of Endgame?), but how much more affecting is the same scene if it’s Damian in place of Duke — you know, Batman’s son? Bruce has been creating this fantasy life for himself, thinking he can ignore his past. But even if he was able to live his life free of the Batman mantle, Bruce can’t ignore his son.

I understand that Scott Snyder doesn’t like writing for Damian (as in he just doesn’t feel like he has a handle on Damian’s voice), but I’m having a hard time getting past the issue. How Damian isn’t looming larger in this moment, especially after the events of Robin: Son of Batman 6, is bonkers to me.

Batman 47

I am, however, on board for the potential of subtle change to Batman’s motivation. Sure, the idea of a hero fighting crime out of a sense of responsibility is not the most original, but it doesn’t feel redundant. Still, I’m not sure if that’s what we’re going to see here. My reading of the moment is that everything is going to come back to Bruce — the pain, the loss, the anger, everything — so basically he’ll have the same motivations as before. Plus maybe some new ones.

With his last issue for the foreseeable future looming on the horizon, I would be remiss to not take a moment and praise Greg Capullo’s consistently great work on Batman. Because his work is so consistent it’s easy for it to go unremarked on, but it really is pretty astounding what he’s able to produce month after month (and without delays). No matter who DC gets to replace him, and I’m sure they’re shooting for the moon, Capullo will be missed.

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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2 comments on “Batman 47

  1. I’d like to give a round of applause for Jim Gordon finessing Mr. Bloom with a bit of that cunning we saw from Bruce in the past. Snyder has written in this story, that felt much too brief 😦 , a Gordon who knows better than to face an enemy this odd and unpredictable head-on. Mr Bloom sabotages Rookie, and Gordon sabotages Mr. Bloom right back with Rookie. It recalls battles with Bane where Bruce knew he couldn’t out-muscle the bastard, so he’d either cut out his Venom supply or make him overdose on it. That’s Batman fighting 101: Turning your enemies’ strengths against them.

    And yes, I will acknowledge Capullo’s visual pun of Bruce holding a slugger, making him a literal bat-man (clever haha). It’s like no matter how he fights it, Bruce subconsciously references his former identity, one way or another. This effectively builds the audience’s tension towards what we all WANT to happen, yet there’s no guarantee.

    No steps missed on the brilliant colors, which depict multiple dark scenes with completely different pallets!

  2. There is this fantastic piece of writing advice I was told about twists, and they are that they should be ‘surprising yet inevitable’. Snyder pulled this off amazingly, this issue.

    First, the army of Mr Blooms. The way I read it, this wasn’t the reveal of Bloom’s big plan, this was what Bloom was all along (I mean, Mr Bloom never gave powers that made anyone have the weird body shape of Mr Bloom). I’ve talked a lot recently about Mr Bloom being the State’s failures towards its people made manifest, and previously this was done as a devil figure, granting two sided gifts that ultimately did nothing but serve Mr Bloom’s plan. But of course, if Mr Bloom was created by the abuses of the State, how does one create Mr Bloom? In one of a million different ways. Of course there are multiple Blooms. It couldn’t be any other way. Hell, think of all the weed imagery around Bloom. There is never one weed in the garden. In an issue intentionally focusing more on Bruce, Snyder effortlessly deepens Mr Bloom with one really surprising, really inevitable twist.

    The other twist, is of course, the Joker. Again, so caught up on Mr Bloom, we didn’t think that what happened to Bruce must also have happened to the Joker. Intellectually, we knew that the next writer would use Dionysium to explain the Joker’s survival, but we were missing something so obvious, which let Snyder surprise us. Going to make a great next issue, because whatever they talk about, the underlying threat of ‘if Batman returns, so does Joker’ is always there.

    Also, I have to say, I’ve always loved Snyder’s metaphors. Everything about the GCPD game works. Bullock’s poker alterations, the gaming with the rookies, that Gordon would go down and play, it is full of character beats, even as it serves only to establish the metaphor. And it is a great metaphor, that perfectly reflects Snyder’s Gotham.

    And onto the other stuff. I don’t mind the subtle change to Batman’s origin, as it reflects the sort of thing Snyder’s Batman has always been about. About challenging yourself and facing the darkness because you know that you can. And I would say that Batman’s inhuman drive is why he is the best at it.

    I don’t have too much of a problem with no Damian (apparently, the reason Snyder avoids Damian is that Damian is too close to his own son, and it is just too personal). Quite simply, we can spend all day writing lists. It should be Dick Grayson, it should be Superman, all sorts of people could. But what we have here is a story about Gordon, Duke and Bruce. Those are our three leads, so it has to be Duke. And I think a lot would be changed if it was Damian. Duke suddenly realizing who Batman is when he remembers when Batman said something in a similar way during Endgame, and then angrily giving a speech on, as an average person on the street, Batman was important, was great. Considering everything about this arc has been about the State failing the people, one of the people having to tell Bruce how important Batman is works.

    Damn I love Snyder’s work.

    And yeah, it is going to be tragic when Capullo leaves. He has been truly amazing. Snyder has always worked with great artists, and many of my favorite artists, like Jock and Francavilla, I was introduced to through Snyder’s work (The Black Mirror may still be Snyder’s best arc on Batman, though Superheavy could be close). So whoever replaces Capullo while Capullo takes his break is likely to be great. But there has been a magic to their collaboration that I can’t see returning to Batman for a long time. A magic that comes from a great writer and a great artist truly knowing how to play to each other’s strengths. Capullo’s work has been sensational, and should not be understated

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