When readers first found out in DC's Divergence story that Jim Gordon would be the new Batman in June, even the character himself was wondering if this was a good idea.
"I'd like to go on record as saying this is the dumbest idea in the history of Gotham City," Gordon said on the final page of the story, echoing what some of the more negative reactions have been.
Even Batman writer Scott Snyder wondered about the upcoming new status quo when he first came up with the idea. In a Newsarama interview, he said, "it could be the dumbest thing I've ever thought of, ever. Or it could be the best thing.."
But Snyder said the deciding factor on the idea being great is the way the story is created. "I understand it's like, 'You're doing what?' But it's all in the execution," he said. "And I certainly stand on the shoulders of giants with the art team. We've always tried to do stuff that goes with our gut."
The new status quo for Batman spins out Batman #40, where Bruce Wayne appeared to die next to the Joker. After a brutal hand-to-hand battle between the two characters, Batman and Joker were lying next to each other when an underground chamber collapsed on them.
With Batman assumed dead, Snyder and Batman artist Greg Capullo now explore a new idea — putting Jim Gordon in a mechanical Bat-suit, making him the all-new protector of Gotham City.
So is Jim Gordon right in saying this is the "dumbest idea" in the history of Batman? Or might Snyder be right to believe it could be the best idea he's had?
Using some quotes, clues and reactions from Snyder and Capullo themselves, Newsarama decided to consider five reason it makes sense to make Jim Gordon Batman — and five reasons it might not make sense.
1) Makes Sense: It's something new
After 76 years of Batman stories, it's difficult to find a storyline that hasn't been tried — at least in some form — before. But even before Jim Gordon was announced as the all-new Batman, Snyder promised Newsarama readers that June's new story would feature an idea that "hasn't been done in 75 years of Batman."
"The fact that we could find something that hadn't been tried before was a huge plus for us, in terms of why to do it," Snyder said.
Finding an all-new twist is a tall order for any Batman writer, but for Snyder, he feels like it's the only way he and Capullo could stay on the book after their already-four-years-long run. "It was like, wait a minute," Snyder said. "If I did that, it would give me a whole crazy lease, and it would give me characters that are in a different place in their lives, where I am, and it would really… I know I could do it."
Might Not Make Sense: It's a huge change
Doing something new is one thing, but taking Bruce out of the Batman suit? And replacing him with someone who's never done the types of things Batman does? Are readers really going to accept this for very long?
Fans of comics aren't exactly known for their patience with creative teams, and change is quite often met with surprising rage from the internet comics community — even before they read the story, as Capullo told Newsarama.
"A lot of people are giving negative comments regarding this story before it's even come out. That's just plain silly," Capullo said. "I think a lot of people's minds are going to be changed when we actually have the book to read."
"I would just say that Dark Knight Returns was a huge change," Snyder said. "'Year One' was a huge change. One of the things that was very heartening for me, when I was doing 'Zero Year,' was that a friend sent me a back-of-the-comic letter to Frank Miller when he did 'Year One,' and it's basically about how he was ruining Batman with 'Year One,' because he was making it so dark."
Plus, Snyder and Capullo have given themselves an "out" — they admitted to Newsarama that there's a plan for bringing Bruce Wayne back to life, although they stopped short of saying when or even if it would happen during their run.
"We would never, ever make a change like this unless we had a better story for all these characters," Snyder said, "including on the other side of that change."
2) Makes Sense: Jim Gordon's Background
In the current Batman continuity, Jim Gordon is not only a seasoned Gotham City police officer, detective and former commissioner, but he's a former U.S. Marine. He's also proven that he's anti-corruption, and he can't be bought, unlike a lot of other people in Gotham.
Snyder said the fact that Jim Gordon is a former Marine is part of why he's picked for the job, as well as all the other attributes that are unique to Jim Gordon. In fact, Geri Powers is a former Marine, so it's something she shares with him, which probably plays into her choosing Jim for the job.
But there are other things about Gordon's experience that also come into play as he's chosen for to wear the suit. "You'll see why Jim makes more sense than other people that are considered for the job," Snyder said.
Might Not Make Sense: He's Being Employed
It's one thing for Bruce Wayne to use the bottomless pit of resources from Wayne Enterprises, but it's another thing for somebody to be beholden to a corporation. As much as Jim Gordon (and readers) might trust Geri Powers now, working for her company and the GCPD is a little different situation from how Bruce Wayne was utilizing his own money to protect the city.
"That's a really good point," Snyder said. "Batman is all about obsession and using everything he has to defend the city, but Gordon depends on the suit and the backing of the Powers family to be Batman. But I think what he'll learn, as the arc goes forward, is that maybe being Batman is about doing it yourself also. To me, Bruce would be Batman even if he didn't have the money. It's about the drive and determination. I think Gordon could live up to that, because he's one of the most dedicated heroes in the city.
"That said… having all that money helps," Snyder laughed.
3) Makes Sense: He's One of Us
Among all of Jim Gordon's qualifications as the next Batman, perhaps his most important is that he's a fan of Batman — something that Snyder says is key in the upcoming issues.
"To me, he's like us, as we're cheering Batman on and doing what we can. We don't have the training, we don't have the obsession, we don't have all that, but we appreciate his cause," Snyder said.
"So, think about it — what if somebody came to you and said, you need to take over. You were friends with him, you were a friend. You need to do this. And you said, I am not the right person for this at all. But that same person made you realize you were the only person right then that could do it. Would you do it? And what would that story be?" Snyder added.
Might Not Make Sense: He's Getting Old
Sure, Jim Gordon has been working out — as Snyder and Capullo made clear in the Divergence story. But he's also getting up there in years. Although no one has verified his age in the current continuity, he has an adult daughter, meaning he's at least pushing 40 years old.
The story also pointed out that's he's been a smoker for years now, and the recent workouts don't erase years of being less-than-healthy in his habits.
But Snyder said that's also part of the idea that Jim Gordon's one of us. "[Having someone like Jim Gordon as Batman] humanizes it again," Snyder said. "And it's almost like going back to the very beginning [of my run], when I wrote Dick Grayson as Batman. He was sort of bewildered and young and worried he was too green. Gordon's the opposite. He's worried that he's too old. And I feel that way now. You know, five years or six years is a long time, and now I kind of feel like, if I got to be Batman, I'd be like, I don't know — maybe I'm too old for it."
4) Makes Sense: Jim Isn't Dangerously Obsessed
In some ways, Jim Gordon might be a better protector of Gotham because he doesn't have the baggage that Batman carries with him. While the experience of losing his parents as a child made Bruce Wayne into Batman, it also caused him to be obsessive in his approach — an obsession that admittedly serves Bruce well, but also sometimes gets in the way.
At first glance, the new Batman's mech suit appears to emphasize that Jim Gordon doesn't have the limitations of Batman because he will use a gun. But Snyder tweeted that the gun is a "Batarang Gun."
"That was a big debate for us, whether he'd use a gun," Snyder said. "I was at first for it, and Greg was for it, but then we both reconsidered it. We felt that he would honor the memory of Batman by not using lethal force. We felt that he would think he was stepping on Batman's memory by using a physical gun — even if Jim doesn't know Batman is Bruce Wayne (or doesn't want to admit he knows he's Bruce Wayne)."
Despite the shared limitation on using lethal firearms, there is a difference between their approaches, Snyder admitted.
"I think in a lot of ways, it is an advantage," Snyder said. "Jim has a very different perspective on the city."
He's not driven the way Bruce is driven, Snyder said, even though Jim is a very driven man. "He doesn't have the same pathology that way. He wasn't, you now, scarred by the city the way Bruce was. So he's a different kind of guardian.
"He's funnier and more approachable," Snyder added. "There's something that's more hopeful about him than Bruce. He can be someone who's less dark and intimidating."
Might Not Make Sense: Jim Isn't Dangerously Obsessed
During Snyder's run on Detective Comics and Batman, Gotham City has almost taken on a separate identity, at least thematically, Snyder said, as it's thrown villains at Batman that are tailored to him.
And now that someone new is wearing a Bat-suit, Gotham will do the same to him. "Gotham will come after you with challenges that are just for you, no matter what," Snyder said. "So what happens when Gotham comes for Jim? When you step into those shoes and become the hero of Gotham, it's going to figure out a way to come for you that's special, just for you."
Without the type of unending obsession that Bruce Wayne has, will Jim Gordon be able to handle a villain that's almost tailored to his weaknesses? Bruce has a reason to keep going when he's challenged mentally, and emotionally and physically. Will Jim?
5) Makes Sense: He's Jim Freaking Gordon
There are tons of reasons to love Jim Gordon, and to root for him wearing the Bat-suit. In a city as dark as Gotham City, Jim Gordon never, ever gives up. Even earlier this year, when he was in prison during Batman Eternal, the guy was fighting villains inside the jail. Despite not having powers, he's always stood up for what was right, and that includes supporting Batman even when almost nobody else would.
He's also family to Barbara Gordon, which makes him a super-dad — plus theoretically, he should be more accepted into the Bat-replacement role by the Bat-family, which will help a lot as he learns the ropes.
Might Not Make Sense: He's Not Bruce Freaking Wayne
OK, it's admirable that Jim Gordon keeps fighting even though he doesn't have powers, but that's nothing compared to what Bruce Wayne is able to do without powers. Jim's a great detective, sure, but Bruce Wayne has proven himself one of the world's best detectives, and one of the smartest men in the DCU. He's a master strategist and tactician — and as any Batman fan can tell you, he plans for everything. He even has a file and a plan to take down just about every superhero in the DCU. Can Jim Gordon do all that?
Jim Gordon's mech suit will not allow him to sneak up on anyone the way Batman does. And although it's true that Jim Gordon might not go exactly by the book as a police officer, turning a blind eye to Batman's activity when he's a wanted man, nobody epitomizes the do-whatever-it-takes attitude more than Bruce Wayne. And yes, maybe he's a little darker than Jim Gordon, but in a city like Gotham, doesn't "dark" make more sense?
But to Snyder and Capullo's credit, they've never indicated that Jim Gordon's role as Batman is permanent, and as we mentioned above, they've even admitted they have a plan for bringing Bruce Wayne back into the cowl.
Also, to be fair, Snyder told Newsarama that Bruce Wayne being the only man who could be Batman is exactly why stories like this one are so great. By showing someone else in the role — by changing things enough to challenge them — readers actually learn why the original concept is so awesome.
"My favorite stories are transgressive, because ultimately, what you're really doing is talking about why things have to go back to core," Snyder said. "When you go far afield of center, it's always about why the center matters."