Scott & Greg,
Back in, I believe it was March or April, when the news came out that Batman as we’ve known him for so long, was about to change drastically under your direction, I responded… mockingly. I was never furious or even a little bit angry, I just thought the whole concept was stupid and ridiculed it pretty much every chance I got. “Batman’s gonna be a robot? So… he’s Batbot now?” It seemed like the most ridiculous thing in the world. I’ll admit I got into the Batman game a little late, but I quickly became a big fan fan of this series. After I finally binge-read the first few story arcs I was hooked. With The Court of Owls/City of Owls story, and then Death of the Family, how could I not be? The stories you crafted around Batman got progressively darker and more intriguing. Then along comes Zero Year (Secret City/Dark City), which pit a (mostly) gadget-less Batman against my favorite Bat-villain, The Riddler. I loved that story so much because I like seeing Bruce have to outsmart a villain rather than “outgun” them. To me, that solidifies his earned title of “World’s Greatest Detective”, and you did a fantastic job showing that side of him.
With very little information, and only the one picture of the ROBO-BAT-BUNNY suit to go off of, I was committed to swearing off of Batman for the foreseeable future. I muttered sarcastically, “Batman’s not a f***ing robot”, probably more than a countable number of times. And then came the news that Jim Gordon was gonna be Batman… What?!?! Don’t get me wrong, I know that other people have been “Batman” before, and that it’s not necessarily who’s under the mask as it is what they do with the responsibility, but GORDON? That seemed even more asinine than Batbot. From there it was, “Of course it’s a robot Batman suit, because Jim Gordon is an old man and would get decimated if he just put on the cape and cowl and swung around the city fighting crime.” I imagined his first few criminal encounters going poorly, with him having to stop and to take his blood pressure medicine in the middle of a fight, or rolling up to McDonald’s in the Batmobile to order a senior coffee.
Well, I was 100% wrong…
The first thing I read was the mini-story in the Divergence book, from Free Comic Book Day. After reading that I thought to myself, “Huh… Maybe there’s more to this than I though.” I figured I’d at least give issue #41 a read, just so I could cling to a small bit of pretentiousness and see if you proved me right, that it was a completely terrible idea from concept to implementation.
“Shit… it’s really good.” – me, after reading issue #41.
And it WAS really good. I got a better understanding of the story you guys are telling and, after reading issue #42, I am hooked to the story you’re telling. I’m also very impressed with how self-aware this series is. You gentlemen have handled people’s skepticism with polite levelheadedness, and it shows in these first couple of issues. Normally when the nature of a character is altered, the creative team does their best to force their vision of the character on the readers, rather than just write a compelling story that shows why the change is a good thing and why that character has earned that role. You haven’t done that at all. Jim is just as skeptical as everyone else, probably even more so, and you use that to your advantage. Never once have you forcefully tried to make us accept him as the new Batman. Instead, you’re giving us reasons why he’s right for the job, and proving to us that he’s more than earned our trust throughout the years by being the kind of person who is realistic, yet hopeful.
I may be just interpreting this how I see it but this is what I’m picking up on:
Seeing Jim in a situation where he’s a playing-fully-by-the-book Batman is fascinating. For law enforcement, Bruce as Batman was always this, “Yeah, he’s a vigilante, but he’s working along side us?” Now we’re seeing what it’s like for to Batman to be a component of law enforcement, to actually attempt to work within the full limitations of the justice system, and that’s something that Bruce was always just barely on the other side of. It’s not like Dick Grayson or Jean-Paul Valley donning the Batsuit. This is a whole new moral dynamic. What does Batman do if he has to fully cooperate with the police force and can’t navigate that grey area he’s so used to? That’s f***ing brilliant.
Additionally, adding the dynamic of Powers Corp, bringing the idea of a Batman pretty much being owned by a corporation, is so compelling. I mean, arguably, Wayne Enterprises has sort of owned Batman from the beginning, I suppose, but Bruce owned Wayne Ent. so this is still a really interesting new direction. Batman having to be Batman under the watchful eye of both the government AND the private sector. It’s made me realize how Jim really was the perfect person for the job. After years having to navigate the tumultuous sea of politics as a leader in the GCPD, he’s best mentally equipped to field the bullshit he’s likely to encounter as a corporate-owned, government regulated Batman.
I stand before you now (you know, metaphorically) a changed man. I have seen the light. I am the neckbearded Saul to Paul conversion to your Robo-Bat-Jesus. I realize now that you were never changing Batman just to turn things upside down only for the sake of doing so. You genuinely have a deep concept in play here, and even the people who blindly supported this idea couldn’t have imagined how riveting it would be.
I’m a fanboy, and I’m a dick about it a lot of times, but I’m not beneath admitting when I’m wrong and changing my ideas. Pretty much all of of the time us fanboys and fangirls can be mercilessly cruel and even those of us who muster enough humility to admit they were wrong will probably only do so quietly and never tell anyone. I can only imagine how frustrating our fickleness can be for creators. When we love you, we’ll worship you like gods. When we dislike you, we come with torches and demand that you be crucified. Even though that was nowhere near the attitude I had about ROBO-BAT-BUNNY, from a fan to creators, I’m sorry that we do that. You, and your art, be it stories or pictures, don’t deserve that. If we don’t like it we can just, you know, not buy it. There are those of us who let our devotion to these fictional characters dictate how we live our sad, lonely lives and that’s not your problem, it’s ours.
I humbly apologize to you both for not practicing what I preach and being more open-minded early on. I, often self-righteously, expect open-mindedness from people and in this case I failed to live up to the standard I hold others to. I appreciate the work you’re doing on Batman. It’s been the single best New52 book from the very beginning and you’re keeping that momentum alive in this new era of Batman.
(P.S. – Look, don’t shit the bed on this in the next few issues though cause if you think for one second I won’t write a retraction to my apology to save face you are dead wrong.)