Batman #45

Following last issue's impressive fill-in, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and company resume Jim Gordon's saga as he continues his role as the Capeless Crusader in "Batman" #45. As he has done in past issues, Snyder explores both the differences as well as the similarities between Gotham's new Batman and his longstanding predecessor, and does so through Gordon's own observations and experience -- or lack thereof, in some cases. Capullo is also back to what he's always done so well: juxtaposing quiet moments with battle sequences and dynamic big budget moments.

Both creators demonstrate their usual skills straightaway as the story begins, where Snyder and Capullo lead off with a snippet of overlaid dialogue, the meaning of which becomes clear later in the issue. This gives way to a contrasting piece of narration from Gordon himself, who literally finds himself in the hot seat. It's typical of the dichotomy often employed by Snyder and, while the biblical reference in this instance is a little strained, it makes an effective introduction to Gordon's current predicament.

In the first two pages, Snyder's script demonstrates Gordon's ingenuity, much like that utilized by the traditional Batman over the decades. Capullo captures Gordon's deathtrap well and FCO Plascencia enhances it with trademark bright colors, while Snyder emphasizes the past and present Batman's similarities before deftly jumping to their fundamental differences as Gordon escapes the trap. The momentum shifts with the unexpected arrival of a non-character, whose dramatic entrance is illustrated with Capullo's own spectacular flair.

Snyder then brilliantly brings together both the traditional Batman's solo nature with Gordon's career-long reliance on backup to create the perfect non-partner for Gordon. It's a key moment in the new Batman's career, as it puts in place a whole new dynamic for Gordon, should Snyder decide to explore it in future issues. Later on in the story, Snyder also throws readers a curve regarding Gordon's role as Batman and, in doing so, keeps the status quo fresh, shaking things up frequently enough to ensure Gordon is anything but a robotic replacement.

There's a milder shake-up of sorts when Snyder briefly switches the focus to Bruce, showing how he is dealing with the aftermath of the Joker's destruction across Gotham in the "Endgame" arc. Snyder makes a deliberate effort to imply Bruce is farther than he has ever been from ever reclaiming his legacy as Batman, doubling down on the implication that Bruce is physically and emotionally unable to resume those duties. Bruce's state of mind is further emphasized by Plascencia, who colors this scene with bright and airy pastels, far from the dark tones associated with the Dark Knight.

"Batman" #45 continues to shock and surprise. While Snyder seems to reveal that the new baseline won't last long, Capullo and Plascencia continue to awe with a diverse array of settings and moods to make this chapter of the Robo-Bat arc their usual kind of strong.

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