SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #59 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Commissioner James Gordon has been Batman's oldest ally. In fact, Gordon's first appearance preceded Batman's own introduction in Detective Comics #27. Their alliance has largely been strong over the succeeding decades, marred only with the occasional dispute. In Tom King and Mikel Janín's Batman #59, however, the pair's relationship is suddenly strained more than ever. It may be more than just strained – thanks to Batman himself, it might be over for good. But Gordon might have a role in this possible breakup, as well.
Batman vs. Jim Gordon
In Batman #59, Penguin reveals to the Dark Knight that Bane is the one behind the murders that had implicated Mr. Freeze, and is also responsible for other recent machinations against Batman. When the disbelieving Batman arrives at Arkham Asylum to investigate, he finds Bane in an essentially catatonic state. Suspecting that the Penguin's allegations are true, Batman attempts to coerce the truth from Bane by giving him a brutal beatdown.
The commotion draws the attention of Gordon, who bursts into Bane's cell to confront Batman. As the bloodied Bane lies whimpering on the floor, Batman attempts to convince Gordon that Bane, despite all appearances, is actually fully competent and in control of Arkham, rather than being committed there. The incredulous Gordon tries to intervene, but when he does so, Batman does the unexpected, and unthinkable: he strikes his longtime ally. The punch doesn't appear to break anything – other than the two men's friendship.
The End of Batman's Longest Alliance?
Just as Batman's actions are surprisingly rash, Gordon's reaction is surprisingly restrained. Perhaps for the sake of their longstanding partnership, Gordon simply orders Batman to leave, rather than attempt to arrest him. Gordon warns him, though, that should he fail to do so, he would unleash Gotham's police force against him – as well as that of the Justice League, if necessary.
Perhaps also in the name of their relationship, Batman complies. Partnership or not, though, the emotional damage is already done. Gordon's pained parting words – "I'm sick of you. Get the hell out of my sight." – certainly puts an air of permanence to the pair's broken bond. While Gordon's remarks could be solely stated out of pure emotion, they're in response to an unprecedented occurrence, heightening the seriousness of his words.