Batman 48

batman 48

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Batman 48 originally released January 20th, 2016.

Drew: There’s a concept in biology of “synapomorphy” which is, essentially, a trait that’s unique to one biological group (which can then be used to distinguish that group from all others). Milk production would be a synapomorphy of mammals, for example. What’s interesting is that these synapomorphies can pile up such that a given biological group might have many distinguishing characteristics — to expand on our mammal example, hair, inner ear bones, and a unique type of teeth are all synapomorphies. Each of these traits developed separately, but all have come to define mammals as a whole.

A similar thing can happen with the defining characteristics of fictional characters — particularly characters who exist in multiple media in stories told by multiple people. Batman is a prime example of this, with countless defining characteristics that range from costuming to gadgets to locations to supporting cast to overarching themes. Some were there more-or-less from the beginning, but others have become essential more recently as new stories are told. A few years ago, Patrick suggested that deconstructions of the Batman mythos have become so common as to become a defining characteristic of the character itself. I was initially skeptical — I can certainly think of plenty of great examples of Batman stories that are as straightforward as can be — but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we’re living through the time when meta-commentary is becoming a defining characteristic of Batman storytelling. Or, at least, it’s a defining characteristic of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, but when they do it so well, it’s hard to argue that it should be any other way.

Of course, the commentary on the importance of Batman, the eternal nature of his struggle, and the legacy of his creators is so densely layered it approaches impenetrability. The conversation that opens the issue, between Bruce Wayne and the butcher (formerly known as Joker) acts as a kind of microcosm of those layered meanings. On the surface, they’re talking about the futility of life — two men who forgot their past lives wondering what life can mean if it can be so simply erased. That this is a veiled metaphor for their own struggles as Batman and Joker is clear as day, with Snyder heaping on references to jokes and smiles; but as the conversation plays out, it also becomes a kind of meditation on the legacy of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman.

goes back to something ugly

It’s a touching eulogy, if a tad insulting to those who came immediately before and those who will follow — a point that becomes particularly uncomfortable given that Snyder will be collaborating with different artists upon Capullo’s departure. I want to respect the sentiment for what it is — that this moment may be enough (and leave reconciling the past and the future to the historians) — but articulating the fear of Batman going “back to something ugly” elevates the present by stepping on the past and future.

This becomes doubly interesting when you consider that this kind of meta-commentary might very well represent Snyder’s legacy on the title. It’s that very attention to detail that begs similarly close readings on Mr. Bloom’s speech, but I’m afraid the underlying philosophy is just as ugly. Or, rather, it’s not that Bloom’s philosophy is ugly that I object to — villains are meant to have horrifying world-views — but the way the rest of Gotham reacts to it.

Bloom

Maybe I’m hopelessly detached from reality, but I tend to think that, when presented with the opportunity to turn into rampaging, murderous monsters, most people wouldn’t leap at that opportunity. I know its easy to get the opposite impression, given the way certain abhorrent opinions have gained apparent traction in the run-up to the Republican primaries, but I maintain that those opinions are ultimately held by a tiny minority of individuals, no matter how much the media (social or otherwise) may suggest the opposite. Point is, I have faith in my neighbors to be generally decent people. Sure, Bloom’s plan relies on only a thousand of presumably millions of Gothamites to seek out and use his seeds, but even if we accept they represent a tiny minority, what does their choice mean? That there’s so much hate in the world that people are just waiting for a maniac to give them the opportunity to become monsters?

The effect is the opposite of the empowering message that falls out of Batman’s detente with Joker in The Dark Knight, where the citizens of Gotham chose not to kill each other. Even the way that decision is undercut with one person going against the grain — Harvey opting for vengeance in The Dark Knight, Bruce opting for sacrifice here — feels off. I’d rather see the maniacs as the outliers, and I’d rather see Batman as leading a crusade of good people, instead of standing as the last bastion of sanity in a mad world. But like I said, maybe I’m a hopeless optimist.

Or maybe my reading is just way off. Patrick, even I have to admit to having my emotions stirred as Bruce kicks in Alfred’s door, demanding to be Batman again, but I can’t help but see a whole lot of unpleasantness in the subtext. Am I making mountains out of molehills (or at least misinterpreting what the mountains mean)?

Patrick: I think your read of the people of Gotham is definitely valid, but I think Bloom does a better job of articulating why they might feel so powerless to begin with than your giving him credit for. I agree with you that the thought of thousands of Gothamites seeking out superpowers to the certain detriment of their neighbors is depressing as fuck. But I don’t think we’re witnessing the trolls coming out of the woodwork, I think we’re seeing the victims. Bloom’s monologue — which is equal parts dense and inflammatory — focuses on the slights the citizens of Gotham have faced under the shadow of this imposter-Batman. Snyder packs the monologue with references to real life tensions between cops and the poor and disenfranchised, between the powerful and the powerless. He’s sort of articulating the background narrative of Gotham since the New 52 started up four years ago: economic disparity, gentrification, a bureaucracy that’s lost touch with the people its meant to serve. Jim-Bats can’t help but embody all of those negative qualities — he is, after all, a former GCPD Commissioner and currently working for the Powers Corporation. Bloom says:

“See, this Batman, their Batman, he’s not what the real Batman was about. The real Batman was about doing it for himself. He was about taking power into his own hands.”

That line of thinking pushes the idea of Batman as a hero of the populace. Arguably, that’s what Snyder and Capullo have been selling ever since they put him at odds with the affluent-but-disconnected Court of Owls.

Maybe that’s another synapomorphy for Batman: he’s the peoples’ hero. I’m trying to decide whether that’s always been a part of Batman’s character, and it’s taken nearly four years of careful exploration of Bruce’s character by Snyder and Capullo to express that, or if that’s a quality Snyder and Capullo have mapped on to Batman. I’m starting to think that it’s the later, which may actually shed more light on the sorta ugly message Drew identified in Bruce and the butcher’s conversation at the start of the issue. It doesn’t take a lot of twisting to turn classic Batman into a fascist figure, imposing a brand of justice on Gotham City determined by his values alone. That’s a powerful Batman — the Batman of Frank Miller and Grant Morrison and Christopher Nolan (and I expect Zack Snyder). In that way, I can sympathize with Snyder and Capullo’s fear that what happens to this character outside of their care has to potential to turn ugly again.

Goodness! I don’t usually spend so much time addressing the lead, but Drew raised a bunch of interesting questions… or at least, he did a good job of pointing out the questions raised in the issue itself. It’s a surprisingly chatty affair, even for a Scott Snyder joint. But I think it’d be short sighted not to credit Capullo’s masterfully atmospheric storytelling which serves as an appropriate backdrop for all of this thematic exploration. I’m dumbfounded by the simple, perfect composition of the panel that sets the scene between Bruce and the butcher.

Bruce Wayne and the Butcher

There’s a dark beauty here than I don’t think I could oversell the importance of. The conversation is so heady, and so meta, and arguably tied up in perspectives that don’t so much belong to the characters as their creators, that Capullo’s ability to ground it in something so relatably beautiful, while also so achingly sad, helps crystallize the scene. But that’s not the only time he’s selling the themes harder than the copy — I don’t think there’s anything that sells fear of Batman’s returning fascism better than the misty march of the bat bots.

misty march of the bat bots

It’s an almost like RoboCop or Terminator — and colorist Francisco Perez makes sure to remind us of the connection between these Bat-suits and the police with their simple red and blue headlights. It’s a chilling economy of visual language.

If there’s one thing in this book I’m not quite tracking, it’s the material from the cold opening of the issue. It appears to be some kind of experiment, akin to the large hadron collider (or some other large physics-based project just beyond the ridge of my understanding). It’s not at all clear what’s happening here, or how it plays into the issue as a whole, but it sets up a repetitive clicking, which turns into the banging on Alfred’s study door at the close of the issue. I think we don’t have all the pieces to this puzzle yet, but it’s a tantalizing promise of… something, I’m just not sure what. Anyone got any theories?

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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19 comments on “Batman 48

  1. Damn Patrick, the first half of your section seems to be made up of my previous comments. Batman of the people, fascism, the failures of the state, Power v the Powerless…

    On Mr Bloom’s plan, it is going to be interesting to see what exactly happens in issue 50 (I’m pretty sure 49 is going to be all Bruce in the Batcave). The people of Gotham not blowing up the ferries in the Dark Knight is one of the most inspiring moments in superhero media. But Mr Bloom has always been about taking advantage of the anger people have against the state. In fact, Mr Bloom is nothing more than people’s rightful dissatisfaction with the ways things are been twisted from righteous anger into toxic hate. You mention the Republican primaries showing us countless examples of the sorts of people you think would pick up the seeds, but honestly, the moment I disliked in Mr Bloom’s speech was when he suggested attacking illegal immigrants stealing jobs (the most Republican talking point ever). The rest of the speech was Mr Bloom giving a revolutionary speech, a call to rise up against a villainous state. And I wish Snyder focused on that. Focused on the idea of revolution, on the idea of righteous beliefs turned toxic. The idea of Gotham going to revolution as Mr Bloom has toxically corrupted legitimate anger appeals to me more than Mr Bloom just taking advantage of every possible version of hate. And for most of his speech, he was the former, not the latter. Then the illegal immigrants. I guess we will have to see what happens in 50 (I think the state sending in an army of Robocops is going to be a key part of it)

    Onto the Joker’s speech Drew discussed. I think any meta look at panel you discussed has to take into account that on a text level, what came before has to be ‘bad’ because becoming Batman is ultimately a tragedy. I don’t think it is saying Morrison’s run before was ugly, nor that what would happen when the team leaves is going to be ugly. In fact, the line carefully never says how far back it was that there was something ugly. And I’m sure every Batman fan has one time period they will describe ugly (hell, I think most would happily just say All Star Batman and Robin).

    Though with that line, I’m more interested is discussing it with regards to Gordon than Snyder/Capullo (especially as from what it sounds like, Capullo is only taking a break from Batman, and Snyder and Capullo will be working together on a Batman story soon). I remember reading a review of Batman 44 celebrating the fact that after just three months of Gordon, Bruce Wayne was back. Which is kind of sad. That the idea of someone else being Batman is this joke, and thank god that we get the ‘real guy’. That after three issues, it was time to get back to the real stuff.
    And then there is the fact that stories like this always get the baffling complaint that ‘it won’t matter’ because Bruce Wayne was always going to come back (as if the story where Bruce Wayne hunts down Mad Hatter or something actually is going to matter). Honestly, ignoring the fact that a story like this is likely to have repercussions felt throughout the Batman line for much longer than, say, Snyder’s Death of the Family (how easy is it going to be to reference Gordon used to be Batman, as opposed to any specific from Death of the Family), all stories are eventually going to ‘not matter’. Be forgotten. I felt Snyder was more talking about why a story like this matters, even if, afterwards, we are back to the same old Batman. Because no matter what else happens, , no matter the fact that on either side of this story, Bruce Wayne was Batman, ‘We were here’. And that’s okay. Superheavy matters because Superheavy exists, and even if Bruce Wayne is Batman again, even if Gordon returns to the police force, even if Duke Thomas is not a lead in the Batman comic, at one point, this was all false. What Superheavy means is different for everyone, but Superheavy was here, and that’s the important thing.

    Regardless of what everyone else did in their past comics, what everyone else is going to do in the future, at one point, this comic existed. That Snyder and Capullo told a story where Gordon was Batman, Bruce had forgotten everything and Duke Thomas was the third lead character. And the fact that is about to change doesn’t change that simple fact.

    • Well, hold up though. I don’t think Bloom is genuinely asking people to attack immigrants. He goes on to tell the immigrants to attack the people that displaced them or the people that don’t want them in Gotham. It might be hard to tell in something as rhetorical as Bloom’s speech, but I think he’s being facetious, demonstrating how the state has been pitting the working people of Gotham against each other to protect itself. (Which, incidentally, is a totally Trump move.)

      Oh, and I read your comments, man. One of the things I always want this place to be is a conversation (look how much I responded to Drew’s lead above). I hope we’re all taking in each other’s idea, examining them, and then either adding them to our own interpretations or tossing them aside. I also think the Batman of the People is hard to ignore when Bloom calls Jim-Bats “THEIR Batman.” I do think it’s interesting — and I don’t totally know what to make of it — that Bloom is sort of the Villain of the People. I mean, he’s certainly not good for them, but he does seem to be in touch with their psyche and draws his strength from them. Perhaps more on that in future issues.

      • The position on the speech didn’t sound like it was supposed to be facetious. Felt like Mr Bloom’s big call to action. If it was facetious, I think it is brilliant. But if it was facetious, it should have been earlier in the speech. Since this is just after Mr Bloom reveals his plan, I would have focused on attacking the police or something (the fact that right after, Mr Bloom tells the illegal immigrants to rise up against the people who helped screw up your home is fantastic). But considering the place in the speech, I feel line the isn’t facetious, and therefore doesn’t fit the rest of Mr Bloom’s rebellion rhetoric.

        And I love the phrase ‘Villain of the People’. Everything I was talking about how Mr Bloom turns righteous anger into toxic hatred, in four words

      • I think he’s genuinely goading both sides to seek out the seeds in order to kill each other, which is why I’m struggling to believe that anyone would. I suppose there’s some of that prisoner’s dilemma going on here, where normally trusting people might turn on each other for fear of the other turning on them first, but it’s hard to be whipped into a righteous fury when your “leader” is so openly playing both sides. Whatever his goals are, they clearly aren’t aligned with any of the people he’s hoping to tempt with the seeds (which he also makes pretty clear by killing that dissenter). Anyone so distrusting to fear their neighbors would know for sure that Bloom is even less trustworthy.

  2. I think Batman’s role of “hero of the people” has been integral to the character for a long time, but it’s mostly been off-and-on. The earliest form of Batman was more of a punisher type character who gunned down villains and tossed them from tall buildings, but, with the softening of Batman and the addition of Robin, that’s when he really became the people’s hero; Bruce was officially out to rescue others and prevent the tragedy that happened to him happening to others rather than just enacting vengeance. Earth-2 Batman even became a licensed member of the GCPD, which, to me, sends a distinct message that this is a character who is out to serve both the common good and the public. Things definitely take a turn for the fascistic with Frank Miller–HIS Batman takes a kind of perverse joy, after all, in crippling his enemies–but I think that, even during the era surrounding Miller’s, there are examples of Batman wanting to help more than dish out punishment. “The Killing Joke” has long been my favorite Batman story because Bruce actively tries to reach the Joker and pull him back from madness rather than, as Miller would have it, toss a batarang in his eye and spit on his corpse. So, while I see your point, I don’t think the “man of the people” outlook strictly originates with Snyder and Capullo. After all, Batman: The Animated Series portrayed Bruce in his public identity as committed to charity as well as seeking peaceful conflict resolution whenever possible (see the amazing “Epilogue” episode of Justice League Unlimited, particular the scene between Batman.)

    • Batman has, at many times, had that ‘Hero of the People’ vibe, but I think it is fair to say that Snyder has done a great job emphasizing this aspect, especially considering Batman has had a very ‘A Lord and his People’ vibe (he is even called the Dark Knight, an actual Feudal position). And it is fair to say that between Frank Miller and the normal fascistic elements of superheroes, Batman has often been very fascistic

      This idea of Batman being anything other than just a person who fights back has been dismantled by Snyder. The Court of Owls stole the throne of Gotham from the Waynes, the Joker’s construct of a medieval court was explicitly rejected by Batman in Death of the Family, Zero Year gave inspiring speeches about how anyone can be Batman and stand up and face the impossible challenges of Gotham (in fact, it suggested that that is what everyone in Gotham does, by virtue of living in Gotham), Batman Eternal ended with the city aligning itself with Batman by shining the batsignal in the sky while the day was saved by a triumphant ‘I’m Batman from Spoiler’, Endgame focused on the sheer normalcy of Bruce Wayne while giving a poor Narrows kid the Batman origin and Superheavy has been about how a Batman that is of the state and not the people is a bad thing. So without disparaging anyone else’s work (one does not attack Alan Moore’s work lightly, and you are right that that scene in Epilogue is a masterpiece), I think it is fair to say Scott Snyder has done a lot to position Batman as not just a hero who is highly empathetic, but also a man who is defined not by how he rules over the people of Gotham as a ‘Good King’ but as a man who is one of the people.

  3. On a separate note, while I do think the uprising of the Gotham populace as they seek to attain the power Bloom has promised them is drastic, I don’t think it is all that off. This isn’t really an example of people becoming cruel just because they can, but, rather, fearful everyday citizens trying to protect themselves in the face of something they can’t comprehend. You allude to Donald Trump in your review, and, while I think his followers are deeply misguided (and some are surely immoral), you cannot write them off as a tiny fringe group; Trump is winning in the polls for a reason. He, like Mr. Bloom, taps into their fears; the two of them say that the thing that is making their lives miserable is something human they can destroy (be it Muslims, Mexicans, or the GCPD) rather than forces outside of their control. Desperate people will cling to that because it gives them a kind of hope, and Trump and Bloom know they can use that to their advantage.

    Furthermore, even if we grant that normal people wouldn’t riot as the people of Gotham are presented as doing, we should remember that they are, after all, the people of GOTHAM: the city that gets taken over by lunatic supervillains every week (Bloom even references this when he says “The city is about to die. Happy Tuesday!) In a place like that, it’s no wonder people would seek out a means to protect themselves. That IS what Bruce did after facing the tragedy of his parents’ death; he sought a means to get stronger and fight back the crime that destroyed his childhood. Not everyone is so lucky to be a billionaire by birth though, and if your options are either live unprotected in a city where Manbats, Secret Societies, and escaped mental patients regularly threaten you and yours or get superpowers and fight back, a lot of people are going to take the second option.

    • I don’t want to turn this discussion into political analysis, but I feel reasonably confident in suggesting that the reason Trump is leading in the polls has more to do with how far off many of the primaries still are. The fervent boosters (the kind that go to rallies and volunteer at campaign offices) for any political figure represent a minority of voters, particularly at the primary stage. Those are the folks who respond to pollsters months ahead of a primary. Pre-primary polls are notoriously bad at predicting who will actually win (I distinctly remember Howard Dean being the presumptive nominee in 2004 before early wins spurred John Kerry into the lead). Combine that with Trump’s grip on the media, and it’s easy to get the impression that he’s a serious candidate appealing to the majority of Republicans, but I think a more likely candidate will emerge after the first few primaries/caucuses.

      But ultimately, my objection to that kind of thinking is more philosophical than political. It’s often tempting to think that you are amongst the minority of sane people on Earth, and that the rest of the world is easily given to fear, but I think that’s a profoundly condescending attitude to have about humanity as a whole. As much as I may pride myself on my intellect, I refuse to presume to have any more clarity than the average person. Most people can see through bullshit just as well as I can, which is why no reader of this issue would be tempted by Mr. Bloom’s argument. To me, that sets up the “fear of the masses” as a strawman, something we can all suspect our neighbors of, but nobody would ever personally agree with. We believe people would seek out these seeds even though we wouldn’t ourselves. Again, I think that’s kind of condescending.

      Bloom isn’t just offering them a weapon to defend themselves, he’s inviting them to join a gang. If this kind of thinking were really so prevalent, I think we would see more middle-class people in gangs. Fearing and being fed up with corruption is a world away from joining a violent gang. I appreciate that there’s room for exaggeration in comics, but I guess I’m not seeing where the truth is here.

      • Yeah, but I think Jeremy’s point about it being GOTHAM does hold water. I think it’s temping to treat Gotham City like it’s New York, but it is so profoundly not. It’s a city that’s not just plagued with regular crime and corruption, but with those things on a supernatural scale. What if the only thing that makes life in Gotham anywhere approaching habitable is a Batman that people believe in and trust? That does make the analogy a little more rooted in fantasy than reality, so I’m not sure if I love it – but, y’know, what he’s saying about the City is true.

        • That’s a really interesting point that now has me pulling at the threads of what Gotham really is. My point about middle class people in gangs actually makes me wonder about the middle class in Gotham. The whole have-and-have-nots narrative that Bloom is pushing suggests that there’s really just two classes in Gotham. The more I think about it, the less I think there really is a middle class in Gotham. Bruce is obviously upper class, but most of the Robins have decidedly working class (or criminal class) backgrounds. The Drakes and the Gordons represent the closest thing to the middle class in Gotham, but they’re a pretty far cry from the portrait of the American middle class.

          I’m actually reading some interesting analyses right now that suggest the creation of the so-called “criminal class” in Gotham is one of its defining characteristics. I haven’t quite gotten my head around the larger points of that paper yet, but it does seem like the emphasis of that class in our knowledge of Gotham has turned that city into something too fictional to bear any meaningful resemblance to real-world cities. In that way, it might most closely resemble the economic dystopia of Lazarus (in much the same way that Metropolis represents the utopia of the American dream). I think I would personally prefer that Batman’s adventures can say more specific things about our society than, say Mad Max can (don’t get me wrong — warring post-apocalyptic gangs can reveal a great deal about the human condition, but not as much about the strains of a stressful job or a corrupt police department), but this is certainly an interesting line of thought.

        • I think the hard thing about mapping Gotham is that Gotham as a character shifts depending on the writer. I mean, what is the name of of Gotham district where things are at its worst? According to Brubaker’s Catwoman, it is the East End. According to Garth Ennis, it is the Cauldron. Gotham Central showed a corrupt police force, with the MCU has the last good bastion, while many Batman books show the Gotham cops as generally good. Hell, this week, we have Snyder depicting Geri Powers as well meaning but accidentally making things worse and Fletcher/Stewart depict Geri Powers as someone who had turned the police force into a crooked army. Compare Snyder’s depiction of the police in Gordon’s first issue as Batman, who were generally depicted as honourable and decent, and Valentine’s Catwoman, where Black mask had such power of the police that he enjoyed the ability to to use Batman to do his dirty work. Discussions about the existence of the Middle Class fundamentally change once you introduce Burnside (which is proof). Batman more than any other character likes to forget the Silver Age, but there was a point where, according to continuity, Gotham contained both the Silver Age excesses and the Bronze Age reinvention of Batman.

          I think any discussion of Gotham and how Gotham acts needs to be viewed through the lens of how Snyder has previously used the character of Gotham. And Snyder’s previous use of Gotham has been of a people who stand up to adversity. A Gotham that sends challenges against everyone (the Black Mirror from his very first story, with Dick Grayson) and a people who stand strong and face it. And I think this is how we have to approach Gotham’s response to Mr Bloom’s plan

          That’s why the ‘Villain of the People’ version of Mr Bloom works so well for me. The version of Bloom who takes Snyder’s vision of a Gotham that stands up to the challenges that faces them, and makes it toxic. Because that is the version of Mr Bloom that I can see actually being able to corrupt Snyder’s version of Gotham. If this was Rucka or Brubaker, Mr Bloom would just need to yell at everyone ‘Free Superpowers’, and they’ll attack whoever they like. But not Snyder’s version.

          And that’s why I dislike Mr Bloom’s speech when it does get Donald Trump. Because that sounds like Brubaker/Rucka Gotham, not Snyder’s

          Also, I’m surprised that you think Mad Max, a setting where we have almost run out of oil, but instead of being responsible, we go round killing people for the last remaining oil in jacked up gas guzzling cars that we rely on more than ever, while valuing women solely for their looks and child bearing capability, doesn’t say specific things about our society. ‘We Are Not Things’, ‘Who Killed the World’ etc all says thing about society

        • Oil is just a MacGuffin. Change it to something else, and you could have anything from a sci-fi story to a feudalistic epic. Fighting for limited resources and subjugating women are, unfortunately, universal constants of the human condition (at least so far). It’s not that the specifics you map onto it are wrong, necessarily, but the interpersonal dramas are more relatable in terms of the human condition than they are in any of the specifics. I know I relate to it differently than I do something set in a world that more closely resembles the one we live in, where my frame of reference can be much more specific than the broad strokes of emotion.

        • Oil is just a MacGuffin, but the fact that it is oil serves a very specific metaphorical purpose. And considering how female dominated Fury Road was, nothing was stopping the movie from simply not subjugating women except for a wish to actually explore how society does subjugate women. George Miller chose it to be this way so that even his insane post apocalytic world can say things about society

          So yeah, Mad Max has interpersonal dramas, but the setting is also designed to reflect society. It manages to be both

  4. You all look for meta-stuff.

    I just kept wondering to myself, “Bloom seems REALLY powerful, why doesn’t Bat-Jim call in some help?” Doesn’t it seem that Bloom could kill Gordon really at any time with a spiky finger and just get it over with? We’ve been at this point for what feels like 3 or 4 issues.

    Maybe the whole point was that Gordon’s bosses couldn’t see past using their robot police as the help for Bats and now it’s leading up to townsfolk revolt, but this seems like such a fuckup by Gordon for not realizing Bloom is REALLY STRONG and that he didn’t have the firepower. But he’s friends (kind of) with gods.

    Or maybe I should read it as Trump and ignore that Gordon is making a pretty shitty Batman right now.

    • I mean, at this point, I think Snyder’s meta-texts are much more interesting than the texts themselves. This was a very talky issue, and there wasn’t much for me to dig into other than parsing what these words mean. Plus, I’m not sure it’s possible to read the line “damn the people here illegally, driving up your taxes,” as anything other than a political talking point — subtlety has kind of flown out the window here.

    • Honestly, a key reason why Scott Snyder’s work is so good is how densely layered it is. It is full of complexities, and therefore has a lot to talk about. But the genius of Scott Snyder’s work is that while the complexities make it great, you don’t need to understand the complexities to enjoy it. Because the reason the complexities make Snyder’s work great is that they make the story deep and the characters strong. You don’t need to understand the deep complexities of the speech with the Joker to feel the power of the moment.

      And if Gordon was a better Batman, there isn’t a need for Bruce Wayne to return to the cowl.

  5. I reread this today during lunch. I realize now, as I look back at Superheavy, that I read this entire arc wrong. Completely.

    Maybe I’m an idiot (likely), but I honestly read this as a Jim Gordon story. “How Jim Gordon became Batman!” There’s reasons for this. Gordon is more popular than ever with the TV show, which I watch (and enjoy more than most DC comics, which says something about the state of DC comics, although I do think the show is fun). I’ve also never been a Batman fan, so I was interested in seeing something new with the character. Sure, Snyder’s run has been good, but I really think that’s more of Snyder than me liking the character.

    But I read this as a Jim Gordon story, just like I read Superior Spider-Man as a Doc Ock story. And it didn’t/doesn’t work like that, which explains much of my dissatisfaction. This is a story about how Bruce Wayne has to be Batman. And it’s weird, it’s not how Batman has to be Bruce Wayne, although Gordon fails at Batman and obviously the city is going to fail at being Bat-Men, but it’s a distinction I have to keep clear in my head. For everything that is going to happen, Bruce Wayne has to be Batman because he can no longer be anything else.

    I thought parts of this comic sucked. Butcher and Bruce on the bench – That was shiny drivel. They should have cut out all dialogue, kept the pretty art, and put in one subtitle that says, “Gun toting butcher douche keeps intentionally saying things that mean something other than what Bruce thinks they mean.”

    I guess this was like Superior in that they needed to get Bat-Bruce back in time for the movie. With all the Bat-titles there’s been a bunch of Bat-Jim out there, although I don’t know that anything took any chances with him (but I didn’t have any interest in reading them, either, which also says something about the state of DC comics).

    This could have been something. There could have been some seriously good work from this seriously talented team about the role of Gotham taking over the role of hero and whether they succeeded or failed. Instead it was a brief character moment that most of us already knew – Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman. There should have been more than this.

    • I will admit the idea of Gordon being Batman because of the Gotham show was something I never about, simply because I found Gotham so terrible, that I just avoid it.

      I think you are still looking at it the wrong way. The Superior comparison is a good one, but the thing about both this and Superior Spiderman is that it explores what makes Bruce Wayne/Peter Parker such great heroes by showing how another strategy fails. Instead of looking at it as ‘Who should be Batman?’, look at it as ‘Who shouldn’t be Batman?’. Look at what it is about Gordon as Batman that is a failure (Mr Bloom makes this obvious).

      Also, have a look as Duke Thomas. Because even as Gordon fails, Duke Thomas succeeds. Why is he a good Robin, when Gordon is a bad Batman? To me, that’s how Superheavy works. Try looking at it with that angle. What makes Bruce Wayne and Duke Thomas so great, and Jim Gordon so bad? Because that is what Snyder wants to explore.

      I honestly don’t think that the movie affected either Superior Spiderman or Batman a lot. It provided a deadline, but the creators knew they had to finish the story by then, and therefore they made sure the stories ended there. Unlike, say, Captain America, where Sam Wilson can be Captain America for as long as Marvel wants, both Superior Spiderman and Gordon Batman exist for one story and one story alone. The movies just set a date that the story must be other by.

      • “Instead of looking at it as ‘Who should be Batman?’, look at it as ‘Who shouldn’t be Batman?’”

        I didn’t read it as “Who should be Batman?”

        And as for a reading of, “Who shouldn’t be Batman?” I didn’t read it as that because it’s obvious to even a casual Bat-Reader (me) that the police department shouldn’t be Batman because a lot of what Batman does is stuff the police department can’t do. When Batman has drones to stop Freeze, it’s cool, when the government has them, it gets scary. It’s possible there is a good, “Who shouldn’t be Batman,” out there, but the combination of crazy and billionaire and super athletic and genius aren’t that common, even in Gotham.

        To me, this was a Bruce Wayne story: Even if you reset him – he needs to be Batman. Or maybe a Gotham story – with no Batman, Gotham will fall (because Flash and Superman are like, screw Gotham, we got our own towns, and all the Lanterns are in space)).

        I found it, in the almost end, relatively unsatisfying. But I think that’s more because I’m not hip to Bats anyway, and I’m really not hip to the Joker/Bats relationship. I wanted something more than what this was, and I thought there was more story to be told and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get it.

        Which is fine, Snyder/Capullo tell fine stories and it’s fine, it’s just not what I was hoping for.

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