Extant’s Pull List – A Tale of Three Batman Books

DC  Comics continued its first month of post-Convergence stories last Wednesday, with a series of first issues and new directions for its line of comics. The main focus of the June 10th releases was the new Batman, as three books featured former police commissioner James Gordon in the new bat-suit.

With the original Batman thought to be dead following his recent “Endgame” battle with the Joker, the Powers Corporation and the GCPD team up to create the robo-Batman suit. Over in the main book, Batman 41, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, we see how the head of the Powers Corp. convinces Gordon to get in the suit. I also would guess that with the obvious flirtation between Gordon and the head of Powers Corp. – Geri Powers – the two of them will soon become an item, but that’s just a guess.

The issue sees Gordon take down a guy using an energy monster as a distraction from holding a former baseball player hostage, as the action is interspersed with his discussions with Det. Harvery Bullock about whether he should take the job.

Given interviews I’ve read, the Bat-suit seems to have been Snyder’s idea to shake things up, but he’s not afraid to poke fun at himself or his idea, as Gordon himself during the issue calls the suit a “roboBat bunny suit.” But the robot suit isn’t the only suit debuting here, as Gordon wears a more traditional superhero suit when he’s not in the bunny.

Over in Detective Comics 41, we see the formation of a new field team tasked with following Batman around and helping him make arrests, which was also touched on in the main Bat-book. My biggest problem here is that it seems that there was a lack of communication between Snyder on Batman and Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul on Detective, as Harvey Bullock is portrayed as having no idea who the new Batman is in Detective, while the Bullock in Batman seemed to be in the inner circle from Day One. Sure, DC has said there would be a looser continuity post-Convergence, but these Bat-books are clearly in the same universe, so I would hope for a little bit more collaboration. Detective Comics 41 also sees the return of Renee Montoya as a member of the Bat Task Force, likely putting an end to her time as the faceless vigilante, The Question.

The third book dealing with Gordon as Batman is Batman/Superman 21, which also ties in to the “Truth” story arc running through the other Superman books. Clark, still powerless, goes to Gotham with Luthor in tow to find Bruce to get some help in regards to his powers and instead runs head first into the new Batman’s robo-fists. In another seeming lack of continuity, there’s no mention of Luthor being a team mate of Superman in Justice League, although Clark’s mistrust of Luthor carries over.

Clark also confers with Bruce Wayne’s trusty butler, Alfred, on an alien artifact and questions him about Bruce’s whereabouts. Alfred begs Clark to leave Bruce be, as he believes Bruce’s death to be a reprieve from a life of fighting.

All three of these books tease that Bruce Wayne’s missing status is not a permanent change (DUH! It’s comics, after all). Clark makes a point of saying he believes Bruce is alive, but agrees to Alfred’s wishes to leave him be and work with Gordon. Over in Detective, Bullock makes it his “secret mission” to find the real Batman. And in Batman 41, we see a man sitting on a bench watching the sun set when another guy walks by him, looks and utters, “Bruce Wayne?”

While DC Comics’ solicitations for September, released this week, seem to confirm the return of Bruce Wayne before year’s end, you can still see Bruce as Batman in the Justice League books and in comedy title Bat-mite (which was reviewed last week).

I picked up the Bat-books this week to see what the new story would bring for Gordon and Gotham, but to be honest, the first issue did little to actually hook me, as they made it clear the status quo would be returned in a few months.

Quick Hits
Constantine: The Hellblazer 1 – DC Comics seems to have given up on mystic John Constantine’s existence in the main DC Universe and have returned him to England to deal with ghosts, demons and other things that go bump in the night with this new number 1. Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV handle writing duties while Riley Rossmo does an amazing job on art. This issue was clearly an establishing issue, but already the direction feels more like Vertigo’s Constantine than the New 52 version. We’ll see whether DC Comics can match the greatness of the former Hellblazer title.

Starfire 1 – A fish-out-of-water tale by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti sees the hero setting herself up in Key West and learning more about Earth culture. While Conner and Palmiotti produce an enjoyable issue, I’m not sure how sustainable story is as it currently stands. Then again, though, I thought the same thing about Harley Quinn and that seems to be one of DC’s most popular books…

Gotham Academy 7 – Writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher’s story about kids in school in Gotham introduces Damian Wayne, son of the Batman, as a new student. The writing is crisp and enjoyable and the artwork is absolutely stunning, especially on a digital screen. Definitely worthy of a pick-up, especially as the book starts a new direction.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the books that drop today, including new books for established heroes Martian Manhunter and Black Canary and Doomed, a story about a young man infected with the Doomsday virus. Also released this week in comic shops and online is Bryan Hitch’s new Justice League of America, and a continuation of the “Truth” storyline in Superman/Wonder Woman.