Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Marcio Takara
This issue is one we’ve really needed for a long time now. Everything has been so un-Batman-like and so incredibly big so far that we’ve barely had time to adapt to the major changes to the characters and the structure, let alone been given reasons to care about these changes. Seeing James Gordon take on the mantle of Batman is incredibly jarring and extremely hard to get used to, especially with the giant weaponized mechanical armor he wears instead of the traditional suit. It can be fun to read, but none of it really screams of the Batman world I’m so familiar with most of the time. It hasn’t tried all that hard to justify itself.
That’s what makes Detective Comics #48 important. It’s a smaller issue and one that—while obviously teasing a larger story—is focused entirely on Gordon just being Batman, questioning his role and wondering how Bruce was able to make it all look so easy. It also does a very good job of showing that this isn’t simply Batman with someone else in the suit. James Gordon’s Batman is incredibly different from Bruce Wayne’s, which is as it should be considering that the two men have completely different ideals and points of view.
It’s a relief to see Gordon in the Batman undersuit, which I actually really like, for the entire issue. But it’s an even bigger relief to see how this issue handles Gordon’s Batman in action and how hard he is fighting to try and live up to that title in a way we haven’t really seen yet. He’s pushing himself. The art matches the tone of the issue incredibly well and there’s a great visual nod to Netflix’s Daredevil where we see Batman’s face in profile rising from the pavement with the rain pouring down. Visually, this is as gritty as we’ve ever known Batman to be, but at the same time, we get to see Gordon smile. Moments like that, ones that remind us we’re dealing with a different character.
The best part is how Gordon changes the dynamic of the whole series by stepping into the role of Batman. It’s becoming a cop show, for all intents and purposes. Some issues have tried to touch on that, some issues have tried to prevent that, but I really think it should be embraced. That’s what’s going to make Gordon’s time in the suit stand out. If he makes for a different Batman, he makes for a memorable Batman. I think Detective Comics #48 was definitely a step in the right direction on that front.