For the last 9 months Jim Gordon has acted as Batman while an amnesic Bruce Wayne is living a normal life. It’s been a great story, with a fun alternate take on the Batman mythos and a lot of personal themes going on behind the story. Mr. Bloom is a very threatening villain and he just seems to get more and more dangerous with each issue. In the last entry, everything went from bad to worse, and it seems that Jim was killed in the chaos. Bruce came to a realization at the end of the issue – the realization that Gotham City needs the real Batman. This review will contain spoilers, but the ending isn’t much of a surprise once you start reading this comic anyway.
This issue focuses entirely on Bruce Wayne becoming Batman again, with the very reluctant Alfred’s assistance. In his bat cave he has a machine that can “restore” memories, and there’s a backup of Batman’s mind stored in data backups. The tension between Bruce and Alfred feels very real, with neither of them wanting him to lose the normal life he’s built for himself. The memory machine’s work itself is mostly told through the art, and in a brilliant way.
This is one issue where it’s actually hard to tell who deserves more credit to the story. Is it Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s masterful writing, or Yanick Paquette’s art? The memory machine’s work is told through montages of bubbles, showing different directions that Batman can go. What kind of Batman Bruce becomes depends on how hard they drive Batman’s memories into Bruce, and as the machine goes on, he loses more of his normalcy but gets closer to the Batman he needs to be.
The various scenarios are well varied with the different kinds of deaths he could suffer if he stops too early, or some of the alternate universe allies he might have. Either that or they’re hallucinations, or a bit of both. Whatever the case, everything is well-detailed, whether it’s the Utopian city in one particular scenario or the actual bat cave in ruins. Even though it’s all one art style, there are times when it almost looks like there’s a different artist drawing some of the pages, and I mean that in a good way. Nathan Fairbairn’s colouring is also great. The comic is bright and colourful when at times when it’s appropriate, and dark and murky when it needs to be. The blue hue of the machine when it’s operating gives the entire comic an atmospheric feel.
This entire story arc has been a lot of fun, but as much as Jim Gordon as Batman is fascinating and I hope he survives, it’s great to see the original Batman return. This story acts both as a heroic moment as Bruce is willing to sacrifice such a happy life to save the city he loves, and a tragic moment as he loses that happy life. Despite the glorious final panel, there’s a lot of tragedy with what happens, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens after Batman 50. Either way, Batman fans should check out Scott Snyder’s run if they haven’t already, and this is turning out to be up there with his best story arcs yet.