Batman: Officer Down is a very different take on a Batman story. The main theme being how little Batman is involved. It begins with a terrific premise. The gunning down of a police officer in Gotham. The key being that the Officer Down is Commissioner Jim Gordon, shot three times in the back.
What follows is the investigation and manhunt for the shooter. The effect of the crime on the police force, the superheroes and eventually on Gordon himself. This tale is a crossover event through the Batman comics and had the potential of being one of the best Batman stories ever told. Unfortunately the execution does not measure up to the potential of the story.
At a celebratory dinner in his honor, Commissioner Gordon leaves the party and begins to walk down the streets where he is met by Catwoman. As he attempts to apprehend her, he is shot three times in the back. Catwoman is seen fleeing the scene and the investigation begins. At first Catwoman is suspected but evidence shows that Gordon was shot in the back, so she goes from being a suspect to the lone eye witness. The police, led by Detectives Bullock and Montoya and the superheroes, led by Nightwing and Robin, investigate the shooting. The Batman, seems paralyzed, unable to do more than stand at Gordon’s bedside in shock. As the investigation moves forward, the answer to who the shooter is has a dramatic effect on all involved. Even more so, is the fact that he will get away with it.
Officer Down is one of the first comic series that focuses almost as much as the non super heroes as it does the costumed crusaders. The story is passed from comic to comic and writer to writer. That is its major flaw. It lacks the strength of continuity that would come from it being told with one strong voice. The story itself is very good, but it lacks in delivery. Gordon’s reaction at the end to the shooting. Batman’s reaction is completely out of character. Doing nothing while his friend lays dying? We have seen in prior books with the death of Jason and the shooting of Barbara Gordon that Batman would not stand still. Instead, here he seems to revert to the small boy Bruce Wayne kneeling at the bloody bodies of his parents. The impact of the shooting on the relationship between Alfred and Batman. It just seems out of line. But the story itself is good. A police shooting, Gordon the victim and the possibility that justice will not prevail.
A very good premise that fails in execution.