Batman #41 completely changed the game. Though it is technically a continuation of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's New 52 Batman run, this series feels like a completely new beast.
That's all thanks to the decision to put former police commissioner Jim Gordon into the role of Batman. Jim looks to finally be growing into the role as the mech-suit powered Dark Knight, but not without difficulty. He is struggling to give up smoking, the tech-side of the job still baffles him and he isn't exactly a natural with a batarang.
He is also struggling with what being "Batman" actually means. This issue tosses that idea around often. What does it mean to be Batman? Does being Batman mean acting a certain way? Does it mean not using a gun? Does it mean working independently? Does it mean serving as a symbol to the people of Gotham? Several characters each have a different idea, including Jim.
It is the quite character moments, as Jim reflects on his new role, that really sell the issue, but the action here is not to be ignored. Like in issue #41, Batman is up against a elemental foe with superhuman abilities. Capullo does a fantastic job of bringing this criminal to life on page, as the character uses the city itself as a weapon, manipulating the bricks and stones of Gotham to pummel Batman again and again.
Better yet, these last two encounters seem to be building towards a new super-villain for Jim to face off against. Going by the name Mr. Bloom, somebody is granting various gang members superhuman abilities and then promptly frying their brains with radiation before they can spill the beans. Once again, having a new villain for Jim to face off against does wonders for helping this book feel completely new. It would have been easy for Snyder to have this new Batman face off against Bruce's longtime foes, but instead he is choosing to create a new rogue's gallery for this new, mechanical Batman.
And then there is the Bat-Truck, yet another selling point this issue in a long list of them. The way it's used in the comic isn't what you might expect, but it feels perfectly in character for Jim.
It all begs the question: where is Bruce Wayne? We know he's not actually dead and Snyder has been teasing his return. Hopefully Bruce's return comes later rather than sooner. Mech suit Batman piloted by Jim Gordon still sounds ludicrous, but the idea is so well executed, so fresh and so fun that you won't want a return to the status quo. Jim Gordon is Batman, and here is to hoping it stays that way for the foreseeable future.
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