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Scarlett Letters – The Commish…

12

Apr

Posted by Steve

ScarlettLynn is back with her ravings (and, as you will see here, sometime rantings). This time she takes a forray into DC’s latest crossover, Battle for the Cowl. Check out what she has to say.

Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon (One-Shot)

Gordon.jpgCommissioner Gordon is one of my favorite supporting characters in the DC Universe. I’m not quite sure what draws me to the character; maybe I just love a good cop story every now and then. I was definitely looking forward to this one-shot tie in to the “Battle for the Cowl” story arc. So far I’ve enjoyed everything dealing with the aftermath of Bruce Wayne’s “death”. The main “Battle for the Cowl” title kicked off to a good start. I had a lot of expectations for “Oracle: The Cure” and I’ve found it to be pretty solid so far. Even “Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight” was unique and engaging and got me interested in a character that I didn’t really care about going into it. So the last thing that I expected when I went to read “Commissioner Gordon” was to wind up preferring the freakin’ “Man-Bat” one-shot to this story. Seriously… Man-Bat. Man-Bat?!!? Man-Bat was a better story?!?! Nothing against Man-Bat but I don’t think there’s a combination of exclamation points, question marks and italics that can sufficiently convey my shock and dismay at “Man-Bat” being better than “Commissioner Gordon.” (Plus, to be honest… it’s just kind of fun to repeatedly say “Man-Bat”.)

In “Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon”, Jim Gordon is dealing with a Gotham City with no Batman. The inmates have escaped Arkham Asylum yet again and now they can’t count on Batman to round them up. Gordon leads Bullock, Angie and some other members of the GCPD to go recapture Mister Freeze. Freeze gets the drop on them and winds up kidnapping Gordon. While the rest of the force tries to track down their boss, Gordon saves himself, takes down Freeze and thwarts his evil plan. In the end Gordon vows that cops are “the law in Gotham City” and are going to start acting like it.

STORY: 1 1/2 out of 5 – The plot is fairly basic but that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a fairly decent framework for a story to be built on. Gordon and the GCPD have to deal with taking down a Batman-level super-villain on their own and that’s definitely not going to be an easy task for them. Apparently, however, they have to come off like absolute idiots in the story for that fact to get conveyed to us.

When I said that Freeze gets the drop on them, I really should have said: Mister Freeze slowly turns around, delivers a horrible line and shoots the cops with his ice gun. I know Batman’s got his Batcave and his supercomputers and his files on everyone under the sun but exactly how does the GCPD seem to forget the fact that Mister Freeze has gun with which he freezes people? What tactical genius decided the best way to apprehend Victor Fries would be to all enter in a group through the same door and loudly announce yourself and start shooting from a distance (at his seemingly bulletproof suit)? Perhaps this would all be completely forgivable if not for the epically cheesy line that it results in:

Gordon: “Watch yourselves! He’s moving! FIRE!”

Freeze: “No. ICE!”

Wow… just, wow. Suddenly I was having flashbacks to Arnold saying things like “You’re not sending me to da cooler!” or “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” Nothing good can come from reminding me of “Batman & Robin”. I tried to un-hear Arnold’s voice in my head saying the line but I couldn’t.

The evil plot that Gordon thwarts is never exactly explained. Freeze makes it clear that he wants to kill a bunch of people to teach them about pain and loss. Freeze has some giant computer and machine that’s supposed to do something… let’s assume it involves freezing people. Instead of turning to Batman to help take him down, Gordon manages to do it himself. He breaks free of his chains and then is able to stop the giant machine by grabbing something important and running away. If it had been some diamond or crystal or cluster of wires or some odd looking device… I’d have been right there with him. Instead the “something important” that Gordon yanks loose is the keyboard. Where ever could Freeze obtain so rare a component? Evil can never prevail now that it’s going to have to run out to Best Buy and pick up a new keyboard.

Luckily for Gordon, however, Freeze decides not to head to another room in the giant office tower they’re in. Instead of quickly grabbing another keyboard and dooming Gotham to whatever frosty fate he had in mind, Victor decides to chase Gordon into another lab. Freeze is in a particularly “Freeze-Smash!” type of mood and he winds up smashing a gas main. Since Gordon can’t quit smoking he’s got himself a pack of matches. Cue the giant fireball which just happens to be Freeze’s weakness and voilà… Gordon takes down Freeze. When Gordon became invulnerable to flame is anyone’s guess… maybe his mustache is made from asbestos.

Now, to be fair, he was hiding under a table. I’m sure that would have completely protected him from several floors of the building blowing up in a massive explosion. And he is definitely lucky that the explosion was as big as it was. If the building he was in hadn’t gone off like a roman candle then it’s not likely that the rest of the GCPD would have ever figured out where he was. I don’t expect them to be Batman. They aren’t going to fill the shoes of the world’s greatest detective. Perhaps, though, they can take a lesson from the events of this issue. When Mister FREEZE has kidnapped your boss and you’re scouring the city looking for him… why not check the giant building that towers over all others and is visible from the window of police headquarters and has the word “CRYONICS” emblazoned on it in big, sky-high letters?

To cap off this little ode to the wacky antics of Gordon and his cops, we have Gordon finding out that there are reports surfacing of Batman being spotted in Gotham and of him killing people. Which Gordon responds to by turning off the Bat-Signal and making his vow to start acting like the law in Gotham City. It’s not like this is Gordon’s first day on the job. The man has been acting like the law in Gotham City for a long time now and he’s been without Batman’s help before.

Instead of this comic, if you’re looking for some good stories about the cops of Gotham, I really recommend picking up “Gotham Central”. They make a few references in the Freeze storyline to the events that are covered in that first trade, “Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty”. It’s an infinitely better take on the idea of what it’s like to be a crime fighter in Gotham City if you wear a badge instead of a cape. And if you’re looking for a more complex look at Commissioner Gordon then I’d really recommend you check out “No Man’s Land”. It’s an amazing Batman story but it also has some interesting exploration of Commissioner Gordon and Batman’s relationship.

ART: 1 out of 5 – I’m going to give the artist on this one the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was rushed or was for some reason unable to finish drawing this issue before it was published. I’m not all that slavish when it comes to continuity errors. A mistake here or there is no big deal. Heck, I’d still give the art on the latest issue of “Justice League of America” a five out of five and the artist accidentally drew Wonder Woman instead of Black Canary on one page. So clearly, I’m not ridiculously picky when it comes to a mistake or two. But what is up with Gordon’s glasses? They’re there, they’re not there, they’re there, they’re not there. It’s not one or two panels either. It’s the whole issue. The glasses just randomly appear and disappear.

Continuity aside, I really didn’t care for the rest of the art. Harvey Bullock looked like one of the three stooges half the time. If the panel doesn’t have a close up of someone’s face then it comes off looking unfinished and undefined. There is one distance shot of the cops where Angie’s face is literally just a blank oval. At the end there’s this one full page hero-shot of Commissioner Gordon being backed up by his cops and it’s just a mess. (Oh, and Gordon’s not wearing his glasses in that one either.)

COVER: 3 out of 5 – There’s not too much to say about this cover. I don’t hate it and it’s not bad but there’s nothing special about it. I’ve been liking Ladronn’s covers on “Green Arrow/Black Canary” but this one didn’t blow me away. If you really want to see an evocative and well done cover of Gordon standing in front of a spotlight… take a look at the cover for “Batman #684”. Maybe this cover was just a bit late to the party and I’d like it more if I hadn’t already been blown away by that previous Tony Daniel cover. In the end this one just came off a bit bland.

MEMORABLE LINES/QUOTES:

I don’t really have any quotes that are memorable in a good way this time around. And I’ve already mentioned the memorably cheesy: “Fire” … “No. Ice.”

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