It’s a new era (or at least a new long arc) for Batman. Bruce Wayne is considered dead or at least very much out of the picture, while a new Batman is stepping forward. Run by both the police and big business, Jim Gordon is stepping up to the plate. Can he do it? Is it good?
Batman #41 (DC Comics)
A new Batman has arrived, in a very big Batman mech suit. Jim Gordon is the new defender of Gotham, given support from the company Powers International and working alongside the police. How will his first big job go, facing down what appears to be a big electrical monster?
If this was Marvel Comics, Batman #41 would essentially be a brand new #1 since that’s what the issue is. It’s a new beginning for the series, switching up the status quo in a major way. A new Batman, a new outfit ( technically two), a cast mixed up of new and old characters, a new setup and operations, and new mysteries in place. It’s the perfect time for someone to jump aboard without having to worry too much about heavy continuity (the fans continuing with the book will be rewarded with small little winks and nods). However, does this big change in the status quo equal good, like with the Superman being depowered a bit over in Action Comics?
HEY! That’s my name for the outfit! Dammit, should have trademarked it!
I would say, yes. Scott Snyder spins a fantastic tale from start to finish, setting things up just perfectly. You get a good understanding of how things got to this point with Jim in the Bat-Mech-suit, different opinions on why it’s important for there to be a new Batman, you get to see him in action and his style of crime fighting, and several story threads are being established throughout. The comic switches back and forth between Jim fighting an electrical monster and flashbacks to how he got to this situation, keeping the action going but also dealing out some important exposition for everything. It’s a very well-crafted and engaging tale, with a really good cliffhanger to boot (though I do get people not being that much sold on the change up).
The writing on the book is terrific and in my opinion, easily one of the best issues of Batman Snyder has written. The story structure is good like I alluded to, always having the right amount of balance between story and action (though even the action helps serve to establish Jim in his new role) while the pacing keeps things moving at a good speed. The dialogue and narration is pretty strong here overall, with a lot of good exchanges and inner thoughts. Most important, though, is that the writer really turned down the long and dry monologues or the very dialogue heavy scenes that always used to drag the pacing down in past issues. There are still monologue and dialogue focused scenes, but they felt more appropriate in the sense they were more natural, fitting, and never went on for too long (the opening narration is a good example, feeling more like a pitch a CEO would give to the press). There’s also bit of humor going only here that’s pretty funny all things considered, showing that the creative team is pretty self-aware of the snark people have towards this new direction and show that they are extending to have some fun with this storyline. All in all, the writing was top notch and I really look forward to seeing where things go from here on out.
The artwork is brought to us by the ever reliable and fantastic Greg Capullo, who is as great as you would expect him to be. Outside of Sawyer (who really doesn’t look like her at all), everyone is drawn very well and are able to show a good range of emotion or expression when a scene calls for it. The layouts and attention to detail in the settings and backgrounds all look very good. The action is intense and flows well from panel to panel, giving you a good sense of motion and movement in the characters. Along with the lovely and moody coloring by FCO Plascencia and good inking by Danny Miki, you have a terrific looking issue like you’ve come to expect from the series.
Is It Good?
Batman #41 is a fantastic start for this new direction in the franchise. It establishes everything from the new status quo to the differences between Jim and Bruce as Batman. The writing is very good, the creative team is self-aware enough to understand what a lot of people were probably thinking about the book, and the artwork looks amazing as always. You can probably figure this direction won’t last forever and I agree that it probably won’t either, but there’s no way you should miss out on this fun while it lasts.