BM-Cv41-ds-f6cbbBy Jarrod Jones. In reality, I can’t imagine there was much push and pull over whether or not DC Comics should let Bruce Wayne die. To allow the all-star team of their highest selling book to kill off their most popular character, well… It’s great publicity, it’s damn good for sales, and besides, nobody ever stayed dead in comic books anyway, so what’s the harm in experimenting with new ground? What’s the worst that could happen?

And now we have reached a critical moment in DC Comics history, where we find ourselves faced with the question, where do we go now that our hero is gone?

For Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the answer appears to be “anywhere else.”

In Batman #41, all eyes are directed towards a more optimistic future as Gotham City aims to survive in a world without Batman. Well, to put a finer point on it, a world without Bruce Wayne: the Dark Knight and his lethal, grinning foe are gone (for now), and gone with them are the darker, more horrific genre elements that informed the book for the last four years. We’ve survived through a 40-issue gauntlet of terror and fear even if our stalwart hero didn’t, and now that we’re outside in the open air, it’s time to take a deep, cleansing breath.

And that’s what Batman #41 is. It’s a lungful of fresh air.

Cast aside any personal judgments you might have had about Snyder and Capullo’s new Batman; the creative team is well-aware of every single one of them, and they go out of their way to address them individually throughout the issue. Everything from an older, saltier Jim Gordon donning the cowl to his new BatMech suit looking like a giant, blue bunny, these are easy targets for salty comic book bloggers (like, um, me), and Snyder makes damn sure to ease all fears. (He even has Gordon’s Batman strut out from the giant suit in snazzy blacks asking a ne’er-do-well — and, by proxy, Snyder’s readership — “How about now… this better?“)

screen-shot-2015-06-09-at-5-18-29-pm-139388 - EditedPerhaps the most disorienting thing about Snyder and Capullo’s new paradigm is getting used to the idea that there’s a monthly Batman comic that won’t be bolstered by the Bat-Family. That’s an intriguing thing to consider, a new Batman running around without a full endorsement from the Bat-Cave. But that’s nothing to worry about, either: Snyder has already placed a veil of subterfuge over Gotham’s Finest Superhero (pay close attention and you might spot a familiar face in the Bat-unit at Powers International) meaning that even though Gotham City has moved on without the Waynes, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t members of the family stashed away with a vested interest in seeing Gordon succeed. We’re one issue into this startling new saga, and there’s already so much rich material to mine.

So Jim Gordon is the new Batman. He’s cut back on his cigarettes (“Batman can’t smoke,” according to Harvey Bullock, of all people), he’s whipped himself back into shape, and he’s even shaved off his signature mustache. (Cowls don’t obscure mustaches.) It’s a bold new direction navigated boldly. Because of their dauntless storytelling chutzpah, Snyder and Capullo not only knocked out a stellar debut, they made one thing abundantly clear: when Gotham needs saving, when everything is going to hell, Jim Gordon is really the only man for the job.

DC Comics/$3.99

Written by Scott Snyder.

Art by Greg Capullo and Danny Miki.

Colors by FCO Plascencia.

8 out of 10