WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Detective Comics #1012, by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, David Baron and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Commissioner James Gordon has been one of Batman's biggest allies for his entire superhero career. Jim, as he's more affectionately known, debuted alongside Batman in 1939's Detective Comics #27, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, and since then, he's aided and abetted all of the Dark Knight's vigilantism in Gotham.
However, in Detective Comics #1012, following decades of wars and trauma, Gordon dropped some major hints in an intriguing conversation that suggests he's on the verge of retiring, most likely to preserve his mental health.
With Mr. Freeze and his goons abducting women so they can be experimented upon in his efforts to bring Nora Fries back to life, Captain Harvey Bullock is running G.C.P.D. to try to stabilize things. He realizes the missing cases are getting out of control and decides to head to the rooftop to flick on the Bat-signal and call in the Caped Crusader for help. Batman emerges from out of the shadows, and in their chat, Harvey mentions how he's surprised the Bat hasn't asked for Jim.
He elaborates that it makes sense the vigilante would already know what's up, which is Jim has been taking a lot of time off the job. Batman makes it clear given the circumstances, he totally understands and it obviously has a lot to do with The Batman Who Laughs.
That comic gave Jim a tormented time and he may very well be suffering from some sort of PTSD from it, since the Grim Knight kidnapped and tortured him. Jim eventually had to team up with his recovering psychopathic son, James Jr. and don some Batman Beyond-esque costumes to go to war with this villain. Still, the battle and the overall kidnapping experience took a toll. Jim even had to contend with a bunch of ravenous Robins, who were all warped versions of his sons from different worlds, adding to the agony he was going through.
Not to mention, by roping in James Jr. in, he was undoing the mental recovery his son -- a known killer -- was enduring and successfully working through. Jim just hasn't been the same since the Grim Knight was killed by James Jr. and the Batman Who Laughs was imprisoned beneath the Hall of Justice. That book ended with a tease Jim could be infected too, which was part of his larger efforts to turn several key heroes into mindless killers.
Jim's even been seen in the new Batman/Superman series, working with a mysterious figure to try to figure out how to get rid of the BWL's infection in the main DCU for good, but he's looking worse for the wear. Coupling this with the drama he's faced in Batgirl book, with Barbara stressing him out as she tries to keep her own vigilantism undercover, Jim's had a lot to deal with. Their relationship has become as strained as ever, and when you factor in some of the things he's been through, retirement sounds like a good plan.
He witnessed Joker attack his daughter in Batman: The Killing Joke and was tortured there too, and we can't forget he donned a Batman mech suit of his own in the "Superheavy" arc. Simply put, Jim's been cracking bit by bit and this brief piece of dialogue cements it all.
Of course, even if he retires from active duty, he still love his city and wants to forge a partnership as best he can with superheroes. This also opens up the potential for a new Commissioner to come in and freshen up the dynamic with the Bat-family as we don't know if that person would be friend or foe. which could breath new life into Gotham. Either way, if Jim retires, it would likely give him some much-needed rest and a respite from Batman's endless war on crime in Gotham.
Detective Comics #1013 goes on sale Oct. 9.