Batman loves Gordon

False advertising.  Batman doesn’t love anything but the sound his batarangs make when they connect with a criminal’s skull.  And Alfred.  And the Robins.  Okay, so he probably loves lots of stuff, but his affection for his closest civilian ally constantly teeters that emotional line.  Their friendship and partnership (both words discussed today) can be best summed up with the issue-long conversation in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Rick Burchett.

As No Man’s Land reaches its midway-ish point, Batman finally shows his face once again.  Turns out that when Bruce Wayne spends his time in Washington D.C. desperately lobbying for funds to get his city back from the post-apocalyptic wasteland it currently resembles, his alter ego won’t be patrolling the dimly lit streets of destroyed Gotham City.  And really, as effective as one man can be in containing an entire collapsed city, his symbolism speaks far more volume than his grappling hooks. So when he arrives to apologize to Commissioner Jim Gordon about his absence, the two have an actual conversation.  Like with feelings and stuff.

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Okay, not yet.  Neither of the men can really do small talk, but it is refreshing to hear Batman awkwardly discuss gardening.  Most of the time he’s growling about murder victims and police inadequacy.  But with Gordon no longer tolerating this facade, the real drama finally begins:

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Gordon’ll make his point clearer in a few pages.  Look, we as readers know Batman has friends. Superman, for one.  But his anti-social personality leaves the Dark Knight a little abrasive with his relationships.  And frankly, Gordon demands more from their friendship than occasionally accepting hand deliveries of gagged and unconscious supervillains.

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When Bane broke Wayne’s back a few years back, Wayne let his insane buddy Azrael take the mantle for a while.  He didn’t tell Gordon.  When No Man’s Land was announced, Wayne ran off to gather political pull and money.  He didn’t tell Gordon.  Rinse and repeat the entire run of Batman comics.

The two are stuck with each other, and they know that.  Gordon’ll never leave the Gotham police force (despite temporary setbacks) and Batman’ll never stop fighting Gotham crime (despite temporary setbacks), because comic book status quo demands that the two remain together.  Forever and ever. Gordon understands that, and he figures after 60 years of adventures (10 years of time passed in the DC universe) that he deserves to at least to be treated as an actual friend.  Not an easy task.  I mean, even Robin doesn’t get told what Batman’s up to half the time.  You’re witnessing Batman’s “hey buddy, it looks like you put on a few pounds” conversation but for his personality.  Also, that last panel perfectly sums up decades of built up rage.

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You can’t get any more trusting than the secret identity reveal.  Though he did tell Joker his real identity in the New 52 and that turned out horrifically.  Can we at least just be proud of Batman taking a positive step in one of his relationships?  That man has some serious emotional damage.  Instead of spending years in intensive therapy, Batman spent his youth learning how to break ninja arms. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

Gordon’s response believably expresses his latent frustration while still maintaining that precious status quo.  Rucka has been a confirmed genius for years now.

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Gordon totally knows Bruce Wayne is Batman.  Like Perry White knows Clark Kent is Superman. When our heroes surround themselves with brilliant investigative minds, the truth can’t slink away for long.  But luckily the supporting cast also embraces the wonderful compassion that comes with ignoring that your local billionaire/star reporter also lives in a giant Justice League space station. Loved ones get hurt when secrets spill and all that jazz.  Oh well.

Anyway, friendship repaired!  Next step: saving a depraved and ruined city filled with millions of people from collapsing in on itself in terrifying violence, immorality, and anarchy.

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