Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo kicked off Jim Gordon’s reign as Gotham City’s new Batman strong. Even with a few hiccups Batman #41 proved that Jim Gordon can hold his own as Batman. But that was just one issue. Now it is time to see if that can be proven on a consistent case moving forward. Let’s find out by checking out Batman #42.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capulo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Some kids have an argument about the new Batman figure not being a real Batman toy since that version doesn’t even have a Batmobile like the original.
Elsewhere, Jim Gordon is training himself on how to throw batarangs with little success. Believing he is by himself, Jim says that he doesn’t even have a Batmobile. Julia walks in and says that it’s not all about the car. She then wonders how he is doing which he responds by saying that he is practicing the whole “Batman doesn’t use guns” motif.
After joking a bit about his smoking and tattoos Julia says she wasn’t asking about what he was practicing but about what he found out at the morgue. Jim says he is fine as he angrily throws a batarang. Julia decides to change the subject by showing Jim the new Batmobile that Daryl has finished working on.
The lights turn on to unveil a tour bus styled Batmobile. Julia says that the new Batmobile will work as transport and as a mobile Batcave for them moving forward. Daryl then mentions he is getting something in there systems they should check out.
While flyover Gotham City Daryl and Julia show Batman the new “Batman app” that Daryl developed after the original Batman disappeared. They say that the app is meant alert them when someone is in need of help around the city.
As he is doing his Batman dive to the disturbance Jim thinks about how he needs to be the one that not only helps save Gotham City but rebuilds the trust that has been lost between the “system” and community.
Before he even reaches the ground Batman is attacked by Gee Gee Hung, a member of the Triad who now seems to be in control of the matter around him. Batman is able to push Hung back with a combination of his weapons. Frustrated, Hung suddenly covers himself in the street’s concrete to create a Batman-esque armor for himself.
Flashing back to Batman visiting Commissioner Sawyer at the morgue where Precious Precious dead body is being examined. Commissioner Sawyer reveals that Precious was killed by a device that activated as soon as hey booked him. Sawyer reveals that the same thing happened to others that they booked after gaining different abilities. Sawyer continues to say that with the way the device worked on the others it seems that whoever is giving them out is still on the experimental phase.
Batman says he was the one who took each of these people in and can’t believe he didn’t know about their fate. Sawyer comments that it sounds like Batman is taking it personal. Instead of answering Batman tells Sawyer to call him if something else comes up. Sawyer says she can’t do that because Powers Corp and the city officials want GCPD to take point on the case. Batman tries to protest but Sawyer says that while Jim is Batman he is a deputized Batman who must follow orders or else be shut down. Sawyer then tells Jim that no one will think less of him if he steps down as Batman. Batman doesn’t answer and instead uses his new camouflage tech to disappear from Sawyer’s sight.
Back in the present, Batman continues to struggle against Hung. Batman uses some thermal batarangs to heat up Hung’s rocky armor. Hung uses his powers to send Batman underwater at a nearby river. Batman is able to escape and uses the new Batmobile to crush Hung’s armor.
When Batman tries to recover Hung from the wreckage the device in Hung’s leg activates and instantly kills him.
Sometime later Jim is back to unsuccessfully practicing throwing batarangs. Julia comes in and pokes fun at Jim “smoking” cigarette gum. Julia then tells Jim that the new Batmobile is out of commission but that they have other models that he will soon be able to use.
Jim then question Julia about her past and if she really worked with the previous Batman. Julia tries to play stupid but Jim knows that she did. Julia tells Jim that in the brief period she worked for Batman she came to understand that who Batman became was an extension of the beliefs of the person behind the cowl. Julia then says that if Jim wants to be successful as Batman he has to do the same. Julia wonders if he will reveal her as a fraud to the other. Jim says he won’t if Julia does the same for him.
At a recreation center Bruce Wayne breaks up the Batman argument some kids are having. After passing out some water to them he goes to Julie Madison’s office. Julie is surprised to see Bruce in so early in the morning. She then tells him to get the clay from storage.
When Bruce opens the storage room door he hears a voice calling him. When Bruce turns on the light he sees Jim there waiting for him. Jim reveals he is the new Batman and that he wants to talk to Bruce. End of issue.
The Good: Just like Jim Gordon, this comic book post-Endgame is trying to find itself as a new Batman steps into the cowl. There is still an odd air about Jim as Batman and Scott Snyder fully capitalizes on that. It’s a different take on the person behind the cowl but one that is filled with potential.
More so than the previous issue, what Batman #42 does well is addressing the fact that Jim will never be successful if he only wants to live up to the name of Batman. By trying to do that Jim was only setting himself up for failure. Because just like when there is a change of leadership at a company the new CEO will not be successful if they only try to replicate what came before. When someone new is in charge they have to find the proper way to adapt what they did that got them to the role in order to be successful.
Jim is in a very similar place as he was chosen to be the new Batman for a reason. It was something that Jeri Powers stated to Jim in the previous issue that he continues to find hard to believe. But the fact remains that Jim needs to find his own way to be successful as Batman since he will never be Bruce Wayne.
Using Julia as the one that made Jim realize this fact was a good way to create a connection between the two. While it may seem like Julia has been around for a while, thanks to her heavy presence in the weekly Batman: Eternal series, she is a relatively new face in the Batman Universe. It made her point-of-view on who Batman is much more effective because she is looking at the cowl from an outside perspective.
While Jim is trying to find himself as Batman it was good to see that Snyder established that not everything about this new status quo is clear and dry. Commissioner Sawyer being fully upfront about the rules that have been placed on the new Batman provides yet another opposition for Jim to overcome. These rules make you wonder how Jim will be able to put himself into the role of Batman if there is things that could easily shut him down. It’ll be an interesting dynamic that I want to see play out more.
I also enjoyed how as Jim has to face a different set of villains from the ones Bruce normally dealt with. Seeing Jim have to deal with more super powered villains is yet another good reminder that Gotham City is a reflection of Batman. No matter who is in the cowl the city will evolve to match the person behind the cowl. And with Jim’s Batman relying on Iron Man-esque tech you have to wonder what kind of city Gotham is becoming. From the looks of things Snyder seems setting the stage for a Batman Beyond setting to be the new normal for the franchise moving forward.
Greg Capullo continues to be a constant rock that the story can balance itself on. Even as more meta-human type threats are popping up in Gotham City the art is able to ground everything in a believable reality. The artwork also helps get across the idea that Gotham City is changing just like the new Batman has changed from what he was before. As we move forward, I’ll be interested to see how Capullo will be making changes to Gotham as Jim comes into his own as Batman.
The Bad: While I did like Bruce’s grizzled retired look it still feels like it is extremely early to reintroduce Bruce into the story. Bruce’s presence in this series undermines whatever character development Jim may go through. Because no matter how much Jim grows into his role as Batman we all know it is only a matter of time that Bruce returns to the cowl. And with Bruce physically present from the onset of Jim’s run as Batman that countdown clock will be at the forefront of our minds.
If Snyder is to make Jim’s run as Batman successful he will need to make Bruce an extremely minor character to the story. Keep him in the background where he may not even appear in some issues. This has to be Jim Gordon’s story in order for us to accept a Gotham City where Bruce Wayne is not Batman.
Overall: Batman #42 was another strong entry in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on this series. Putting aside Bruce Wayne’s presence, Snyder does a very good job at making you come to terms with Jim Gordon as the new Batman. Through some clever plot development Snyder is able to place a greater emphasis on what it means to be Batman, both for the person wearing the cowl and Gotham City itself. This clear definition has set the stage for a different take on the Batman legend that has all the potential to be something special.