When we last saw the Commissioner Gordon Batman he was in the clutches of Mr. Bloom and dealing with the forced betrayal of his armored sidekick, "Rookie."
So what does the nefarious Bloom do when he has his most formidable opponent at his mercy?
He lets him go!
When your main protagonist and hero finds himself at his lowest point and in an impossible situation you want to see how he could possibly work his way out of his encounter with the Scylla and Charybdis.
Ah well. Bloom falls prey to one of the most annoying tropes we find in comics and other media. He lets his enemy go.
Nice butt shot Jim.
Like any good Caped Crusader, the Gordon Batman manages to go from the frying pan into the fire (see the whirling blades of the helicopter above) but also quickly extricates himself from impending doom.
The price to pay was the destruction of his beloved "Rookie" armor.
In keeping with tried and true comic book tropes our story quickly changes.
Not that I am complaining. This B plot actually steers closer to the main theme of the overall arc of Bruce Wayne dealing with his amnesia and the "theft" of his youth.
In his stead, Gordon serves as an able substitute while Bloom preys on the youth of Gotham and threatens any sense of community left in the city. And I suppose community should be seen as a larger metaphor for family.
The Duke "Robin" seen above also acts as a substitute for the missing Batman but does double duty as a youth in search for his place in a community bereft of its moral compass. Duke seeks to recapture what is lost while at times not really knowing what he is looking for.
At least in that he has an edge on Bruce Wayne. Duke and Bruce know what doing the right thing is. It's Duke that sees the larger picture. Bruce knows to look out for the youth of Gotham but Duke knows to look out for everyone.
This is where I should use the "and a child will lead them" quote.
And a child shall lead them.
There, I said it.
Duke takes Bruce on his journey of rediscovery by bringing into the depths of Gotham. Into the depths of darkness.
Duke may be a bit of a neophyte in the crime fighting game but he knows a thing or two about basic psychology.
By bringing Bruce into the darkness he forces Wayne to confront his fears. In a "fight or flight" moment Bruce has to act instinctively and react to the threat at hand. Not just the immediacy of the moment but the larger threat deep within.
And what a threat it is.
Bruce is threatened with the enormity of his repressed psyche and the onrushing train transforms into a hideous bat.
Is being the Batman really that hideous?
Well, I suppose it is when it is rooted in the death of his parents and his never ending struggle to avenge them and bring about justice.
I suppose that is weighty enough.
Back to the B plot! I mean the A plot.
The Gordon Batman has defeated Bloom but like any good infestation, the roots of the weed go a lot further.
And they are beginning to sprout.
It looks like Bloom is blooming and no amount of weed killer can stop him. Where is the real Batman???
As the Jethro Tull band would say, "Sitting on a park bench!"
Ah, ah, ahhh, not yet Bruce!
There is one piece of the family puzzle left. You can't fully realize you're Batman until you come face to face with his dark side too.
Look who has joined the party.
We finally see The Joker again and it seems he's spied Bruce before too.
Mr. J looks to be in the dark as much as Bruce is but like moths to the flame they are inextricably drawn together.
So what does this mean? They complete each other? In a way yes. Yin and Yang. The endless struggle. Two sides of the same coin. Yes and yes.
Will they ever stop trying to defeat the other? It seems not.
But as Snyder seems to be telling us we can't have one without the other and Batman is not complete until he has his Joker.
I'm looking forward to their "reconciliation" in issue #48.