To say that Batman has had a bad year would be an understatement. First, Catwoman broke his heart by leaving him at the altar. Then, he crossed a line in his capture of Mr. Freeze leading the Dark Knight to question himself. After that, KGBeast shot Dick Grayson/Nightwing in the head and nearly killed the hero's surrogate son. Now, however, Batman has done something that may well mark the end of one of his most stable, longest-lasting relationships: he punched out Jim Gordon.
In last week's Batman #59, Penguin lets Batman in on something that readers may have suspected for some time. Bane is the mastermind behind the murders Mr. Freeze was charged with as well as Batman's other recent difficulties -- and as readers know, that includes Catwoman leaving him at the altar. While it's not hard to believe that Bane could be up to some seriously villainous machinations, Batman can't take Penguin's words as fact. He has to investigate for himself -- going to Arkham to confront Bane.
Batman finds a Bane who is seemingly not in his right mind and mostly catatonic, but Batman believes it to be an act. He gives Bane a brutal beating in an attempt to force Bane to crack. That crack? Does not happen. Gordon shows up and confronts Batman and, despite Batman's attempts to convince Gordon that Bane is faking it the Commissioner intervenes on Bane's behalf prompting Batman to punch his ally out. Despite the brutal punch, Gordon remains calm and tells Batman to leave before he has the police and the Justice League come after him. He also tells Batman "I'm sick of you. Get the hell out of my sight," which seems like a solid clue that things will never be the same between the two men after this moment.
However, there may be more to Batman punching his longtime ally than meets the eye. Bane is, according to Penguin, "for all practicality running Gotham City". Penguin specifically notes that Bane is in charge of everything at Arkham, too, which could indicate that Bane is somehow manipulating Gordon, too. If Gordon has turned to the villain side, it would mark a massive shift in Batman stories as we know them. It's also possible that Gordon is aware Bane is up to no good, but why he wouldn't let Batman in on this is problematic as well.
Whatever the reality of the Bane situation ends up being, the fact remains that Batman has crossed yet another line and has fallen even deeper into the darkness. It will be interesting to see how -- and if -- Tom King will bring the hero back to the light before the end of the run.
Batman #59 is available now.