REVIEW: BATMAN #46
AUTHOR: John Bierly (Follow @JOHNBIERLY)
DATE: November 20, 2015

SYNOPSIS: At last, Batman comes face to face with Gotham City’s deadly new villain, Mr. Bloom. With the fate of the city hanging in the balance, Batman reaches out to the one man who might be able to help him: Bruce Wayne!

BATMAN #46 begins in as ghastly and as grisly a fashion as #45 ended, as Mr. Bloom continues to terrorize the gala hosted by Geri Powers to announce a new direction for her company's Batman program.

Taking Julia Pennyworth's advice not to accept his forced retirement without a fight, a cowled-up Jim Gordon dishes out damage to Bloom as brutally as the Flower Power poster-boy gives it, closing down the villain's attack with some snappy science that would inspire another joyous, expletive-drenched ode to magnets from Jesse Pinkman.

Elsewhere in Gotham, Bruce Wayne continues his existence of reckless, blissful ignorance, asking Julia Madison a question that paints an even bigger target on her tattooed chest than she already had. (Will the event that eventually brings Bruce back to the Bat be so obviously telegraphed? Surely not, right?)

Though the cover suggests that Bruce and Jim face Mr. Bloom together, no such thing happens in the issue... though at least Bruce takes half a baby step toward wondering about something beyond steamy showers with Miss Madison. Later, Gordon convinces Geri to let him ride in after Bloom one last time (on one of the most delightfully preposterous Bat-Rides yet), leading to a cliffhanger involving a scenario I predicted in last issue's review.

Greg Capullo and his art team effortlessly nail every aspect as always, from horror to humanity, from emotion to action, from sinister to sexy. Writer Scott Snyder continues to make it all make sense with passages that are effortlessly dense and rich, though the subplot with WE ARE ROBIN hero Duke Thomas devours five whole pages this issue, and a glimpse at all the prototypes preceding Mecha-Gordon-Zilla strains credulity. (How operational is each of those suits? How much did the current one cost, not to mention each of those prototypes, some of which are the size of a dinosaur? And how many issues will it be before Gordon has to fight all of them?)

As I mentioned in the previous review, there's nothing wrong with the story Snyder and his team are telling. It's just not for me. Maybe I'd be more into it if it embraced its premise and focused more on Gordon, but the Bruce Wayne stuff is starting to feel like a real drag. It reminds of me of how Marvel's SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN couldn't fully commit to "Otto Octavius as Spider-Man" until it fully banished Peter Parker's psyche from the body he was sharing with Doc Ock. That's why I'd like to see Jim Gordon spend less time telling people why he should be Batman and more time being Batman.

I admire this stab at an original story, and Jim Gordon makes this is a good take on the dried-up "Replacement Batman" trope simply by being Jim Gordon. But I still feel as if I'm on the outside looking in. How do you feel about it? What is it about this story that makes you not be able to wait for the next issue? - John Bierly

GRADE: A

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.


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