“Superheavy: pt. 1” (22 pages)
Story by: Scott Snyder
Pencils by: Greg Capullo
Inks by: Danny Miki
Colors by: FCO Plascencia
Letters by: Steve Wands
Covers by: Capullo, Miki & Plascencia; Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
The gossip, hearsay, speculation, etc. can be dispelled. Gotham City’s newest Dark Knight is pretty much a brand, a marketing tool. Only a select few (besides us readers) know that underneath that awesome armour is the former commish Jim Gordon!! Yae? Nay? Everyone is entitled to an opinion. The point is this: embrace the different and read on!
The next radical chapter begins with a silhouetted man on a bench while Geri Power’s observation of humankind’s capacity for handling the most dark, disturbing things fill the word boxes. An energy-based monster is wrecking buildings and making a lot of noise in the city. Commissioner Maggie Sawyer and one of her tag-alongs are already on the scene. Maggie is barely fazed by the sight. That’s because she knows that in less than a split-second Batman will appear!
Everything has changed. Makes perfect sense. New persona, new handler, new procedures, and so on. The Bat-universe has been turned on its pointy ears. In this case, the Bat-signal now hits the ground instead of the sky. Brilliant [pun intended!] The cowardly and superstitious lot are flushed out with this technique. This is reminiscent of the signal in Spidey’s belt. Batman’s arrival is done in military fashion. He is hanging upside down a brand new Bat-craft ready for the drop. Batman has a crew that cracks wise, delivers a sit rep, and gives him a pep talk before all systems go! Jim Gordon has to accept this major twist in his life. He cannot ponder petty things. His focus has to be fine-tuned. The mission is paramount!! He makes a flawless 10.0 landing right on the energy creature.
The tale splits in two. The present runs parallel with the past. It is unknown how long Jim has been with this gig. I’d say less than a week but I’ll bet that immediately after Bruce’s demise Geri Powers decided to step up and enact change. Batman is smack dab in Little Cuba. Dodger Valera, the best baseball player in the history of the city has been kidnapped. Bats take a swing at the crackling noisemaker and is flung into a wall. The hurt is on even with all the hi-tech.
Jim thinks back to Geri’s pushy proposal. She doesn’t sugar-coat: Jim is not young nor as smart nor as attractive as some of GCPD’s finest but he is the right man for the mantle. The common bond between Ms. Corporate and Mr. Cop is that they were both Marines. The officers’ youth works against him. Experience is ideal, thus making Jimbo the ideal candidate. Geri knows that the Batman is not an urban legend. He’s a human being fighting for the safety and security of all its citizens. Jim turns her down. I don’t think so!!
Batman is failing miserably at taking down the walking dynamo. His team’s suggestions result in nothing. Given that it is energy, it requires a source. Jim uses his superlative detective skills to deduce that someone has to be behind the scenes in charge (no pun intended!) Batsie takes a metal extension off his suit and uses it to deflect a blast. It is done in the same gesture as a cape but it’s a massive metal bat-wing. Holy improvement!
Jim has a heart-to-heart with his closest friend Harvey Bullock. The cantankerous controversial officer gives his two cents. He’s incredulous at the possibility of this life-changing moment. Firstly, Jim can’t turn his back on all his years of service. Secondly, the chain smoking is a major deal-breaker. Lastly, age is a factor too. Not only did I laugh but also thought the same as Harv when he pegged Jim as a member of the senior citizens club. No discounts yet. Jim corrects him by stating he’s forty-six. That’s not the issue. Making a difference in the never-ending crime-ridden Gotham is the focal point. Jim’s long lawful career is a major trump card.
Their convo is interrupted by one of the potential candidates: a young buck by the name of Williams. He came to the rooftop to Face-Chat his eleven-month-old son. The fake-Batman shows a pic of his tot who’s also sporting a Bat-outfit. There are enough admirers for He Who Is the Night. The pic of the baby-Bat was enough to convince the two. Harv stubs out Jim’s cig and tells him that Lasik will be needed.
Nice segue!! Batman asks his two-women, one-man crew how to work the eyes within his armour. They’ll get back to him. Man, oh man!! Quite the initiation. X-Ray vision now in effect (sorry, Clark). Jim uses that crime-solving noggin once again. All criminals have a motif and/or symbol. This creature is an extension of someone in particular. The bank robbery was somewhat botched since the cash is traceable. Follow the breadcrumbs and the resident with the most cash would be none other than Dodger Valera!! Home run! Kidnapper and ransom found. The bad guy has been tagged. His real name is Precious Precious (snort!) and he’s the founder of the Cuban branch of the Whisper Gang. Just a small-time crook trying to make it big. Dodger was handpicked because he keeps all his liquid assets in a vault. Bruce Wayne designed the alarms that are now sounding off even though it’s supposed to be impenetrable. Jim is so focused on the rescue that even though he hears a commotion he doesn’t notice a flying truck that squashes him flatter than a pancake.
The buttering up continues. Jim is introduced to his fresh-out-of-the-lab colleagues: Julia Perry, tactician highly recommended by Lucius Fox and Wayne Enterprises with no former ties to the Dark Knight; Daryl Gutierrez, tech whiz who designed the suit through and through.
Be delighted, fans!! Some much-needed humour is injected here. Daryl takes Jim’s reluctance a bit personally. To ease his mind, he presses a button making it multi-chromatic. The options presented are obvious nods to Batman’s alternate wardrobe. Yuck yuck yuck!
Precious times two snickers at the failed heroics. He even calls the newest version a false idol. It’s nothing but clunky metal. Dodger emphasizes the importance of making a difference and trying. He insults Mr. Unglamorous. The gangbanger won’t tolerate any disrespect. He’s about to pop Pops when a teeny tiny batarang tasers him. DDDDAAAAMMMMNNNN!!! I was not expecting to see Jim donned in a sleek ebon uniform with a highlighted bat-symbol. This could actually work!
In the real recent past, Jim comes around and accepts. Geri tells him flat out that this endeavour is dangerous and untested. Anything and everything can go wrong. He will be a Batman for the people, collaborating with law enforcement and the capital G. His ID will remain a mystery. Long live secret identity tropes J Training and transformation are necessary. Hooray for another trope. Every Bat(man) has a cave. Jim’s will be a luxuriously furnished apartment at Powers International.
To seal the deal, Harvey drops off a note attached to a ten-foot trenchoat. AAAHHH, the big lug is sentimental after all. Jim accepts the mantle with a rhetorical question: “What the hell have we done?” The answer to that will be next issue!
A passerby stops to take a good look at the man on the bench. He inquires this:
Mantra: “Bat-thoughts. Bat-thoughts. Bat-thoughts…all right, here we go.” Sounds like a confidence-builder until he experiences impact. “*Unh* Bat-thoughts…that hurt. A lot.”
Hiding in plain sight: Could Julia Perry actually be Julia Pennyworth??
Apps unlimited: You too can design your own Bat-armour with the touch of a paintbrush stylus!
Don’t forget the main attraction!! Bruce Wayne is mentioned twice and his company once. Is he really the man on the bench?
Full circle: The opening and closing scenes. The first page seemed somewhat unimportant and totally random. To be honest, I passed it over since I was reading Geri’s narration, not knowing it was her until the second page. Even when I got to the last page, I wondered why focus on this again? Then the complete stranger dropped those two words. BA-BAM!!
Scott Snyder’s voice has shifted and it had to. A new pair of shoes requires a different way of walking. Gotham will forever remain grey and gritty but the shiny armour represents more hope than its predecessor. The dark colours aside, Jim has a mentality that is incomparable to other title holders. He’s cool, calm, collected. His life was also mired in tragedy but unlike Bruce, there was no childhood trauma that became a catalyst for his career choice. Jim’s trials came much later in his life. Despite all that, he kept pushing on, not just pasting a brave face but actually becoming an anchor in the maddening swirl of the city he is trying to protect. Jim Gordon’s own heroism was never up for debate. He represents the real-life risk-takers that ensures average Joes like me sleep well and perhaps never experience a really bad day. His doubt and uneasiness make him more altruistic because he’s not in this for the glory nor does he want to dishonour nor diminish the lasting legacy established beforehand. Many might classify Mr. Snyder as a horror/psychological writer. For the most part, that’s true. However, I have him figured out 😉 He’s a family man, first and foremost. Family is the one motif in his body of work that has remained constant even when the presentations vary. I’ll let you process that. C’mon! The most obvious indicator in this issue is Williams showing his pride and joy to his superiors. The infant already has a Batman onesie!! That image is what clinches Jim’s decision and dissipates Harvey’s naysaying. Family units differ in dynamics and size. That is unimportant. The ties that bind are what make a group of individuals family. Welcome to the Bat-Family, Jim Gordon!! Can’t wait for you to meet the others and see how they interact with you!
Greg Capullo steps out of his comfort zone a bit. I’m unfamiliar with his work on SPAWN but I can pretty much bet that he hasn’t drawn an energy ‘monster’ before. Correct me if I’m wrong! The face shot was so Clayface-esque that I thought this would have been Jim’s first contender but then I noticed the full body shot. The Bat-signal is a bit menacing. It means business. The Bat-blimp(?) is heavy duty. Jim remains bemused throughout his consideration. Harvey stays true to form. He does crack a smile showing his softer side, rare as that is. Mr. Capullo deserves an Eisner Award or something equivalent for his renditions of the armour’s aesthetics as well as the accompanying emojis.
Danny Miki gets to draw over the many faces of the Bat. I still equate the close-ups of the black face with the white eyes to the massive hood ornament of the Batmobiles from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Mr. Miki gets the honour to cut three distinct Bat symbols.
FCO Plascencia is faithful to this team. His accents on the varying appearances of that armour is his best work hands down!!
Steve Wands superbly depicts Batman’s distant, anonymous, professional speech. I can hear the echo made by the audio system. He gets applause for the tiny blips made when Daryl swipes his tablet. The final touch is the note by Harvey.
This was and is a most-enjoyable read!! All the haters are allowed to hate. All the geeks are allowed to gush. I’m a major proponent of accepting change. The world keeps on turning. Our lives have to keep advancing. Even with minor tweaks or major hits, nothing can ever truly remain the same. This facet of the seventy-six-year-old saga is the most innovative it’s ever been because Jim Gordon is the least likely ‘suspect’ to possess unselfish aspirations in a world full of superhumans. The least!! Don’t deny it! He himself could never have envisioned this. Not in a million years would I imagine him in this role. Hell, Alfred could have been in the lead too. That’s exactly why this fits. It goes against the grain, challenges everyone’s preconceptions, and fills an unwanted void. Mr. Snyder is already dangling the carrot at us by the end of this issue. This is his way of telling all your Bat-freaks that the ‘real star’ of this book is temporarily gone but definitely never forgotten.
According to recent lore, there have been eight other men behind the mask/cowl/helmet. Click here. Jim Gordon is now the ninth. In recognition of that, I give this book 8.6 out of 9 (95.5%)
Tags: Batman, DC Comics, DC You, Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder