One of the best things about Batman is how many flavors he comes in; be it a Robin title, Nightwing, or the more recent Jim Gordon as Batman series, you can get one hell of a story out of the Batman mythos from different characters. Part of the reason is because they all gravitate towards Gotham, but it’s also because the branding; all you need is to be fit, savvy, and slap a logo on your chest and you can be part of the family. (Oh, you also have to earn Batman’s enduring trust too. No biggie.)
What about Jim Gordon though? Does he fit in? Here’s five reasons why Jim Gordon’s Batman is one of the best iterations.
Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes (DC Comics)
So what’s this about? The DC summary reads:
Get ready to ride with the GCPD in these epics from DETECTIVE COMICS #41-47 and the Sneak Peek story from CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #2! With a new Batman on patrol, Harvey Bullock is leading a Bat task force—but can he be trusted? And what kind of welcome awaits his new partner, Renee Montoya? Plus, the Joker’s Daughter reveals her plans to take on Batman and his task force—and they might prove deadly to Jim Gordon! And the new creative team of writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Marcio Takara takes Batman on his first mission with the Justice League to solve a series of mysterious mass murders.
Why does this book matter?
This volume collects the stories that focus directly on Jim Gordon as Batman. It’s the only book that allows you to understand his unique point of view as The Dark Knight.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Ouch, I guess he’s stuck now.
1. It gets at the core of being a regular person in way over your head.
The first two thirds of this volume involve Harvey Bullock, his girlfriend and the return of Renee Montoya to the GCPD as they support Jim Gordon recently joining and heading the Batman program. Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato (he does colors too) with art by Fernando Blanco this story weaves in a tragic love story that works quite well. Bullock doesn’t usually have a girlfriend and it’s interesting how that changes up his dynamic. It gives the book a deeply human and meaningful relationship to hang on.
That doubles for Jim Gordon too. While he isn’t the main focus of the main story in this book, we get a sense of how hard it is to step into Batman’s shoes. He takes a beating in Detective Comics Vol. 8, works nearly constantly and must train his body consistently on top of it, and you can tell the accumulated burdens are taking a toll on him.
Peter J. Tomasi writes the last two of the three issues collected in this volume and he captures how in awe Gordon is when working with the Justice League. The first of the two issues cleverly slaps Gordon and the JLA together in a team up of sorts and they quickly see the value in Jim. The fact that they make the point that he’s not their first choice (they’d rather have Bruce) and Jim takes it with a smile shows how little ego he has. The greatest heroes in the universe want your help? You gladly take it.
3. Jim Gordon uses his detective skills.
When they do go on a mission Jim quickly shows he’s a worthy teammate. One might argue he’s even more helpful than Batman has been as of late (who typically uses his fists more than his noggin) and together they uncover a mystery that’s quite something. I wrote a whole review about that issue here and just this issue alone is well worth a look.
It’s hard out there.
4. Jim Gordon is an average joe who isn’t quite as obsessed as Bruce ever was.
At two different times we see Gordon in street clothes and it’s clear this Batman thing is more of a job than a lifestyle. The first has him coming home late at night and going right back out, and Blanco draws a somewhat ragged Jim who just wants some sleep. He doesn’t live for it like Bruce — but he goes back out to fight crime because he knows he should, which brings an interesting juxtaposition to Bruce’s mindset. Later in this volume we see Jim attend a baseball game (drawn by Marcio Takara) and the captions speak volumes for why he’s Batman and what his purpose is: to protect the people. It’s a bit different than Bruce’s more vengeance-fueled drive, but it’s for the same thing. It’s also nice to see Jim relax and enjoy a bit of life. You don’t see that with Batman!
5. Jim Gordon as Batman reminds us vigilantism is necessary.
Let’s face it, Batman is a vigilante. He fights the way he does because not every cop can be trusted and all the red tape slows things down so much people die because of it. The last issue in this volume, written by Ray Fawkes and drawn by Steve Pugh, delves into that very thing when Grayson (aka Nightwing) and Jim Gordon tussle. This last issue ties into the We Are Robin storyline, and while it does offer an introduction to the main conflict, it’s more about Jim realizing sometimes cops can’t do squat when it comes to justice.
I’d laugh too.
Is It Good?
This is a great volume well worth your dime. It contains a single story that runs two thirds of the book focusing on the human heroes who protect Gotham and the growing pains Jim Gordon goes through to be Batman. It also throws in some Justice League action (and a fantastic done in one story) and reminds us vigilantism is necessary to enact justice.