Batman #51 review
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Steve Wands
Variant Cover: John Romita, Jr
Publisher: DC Comics
“Court of Owls.” “Death of the Family.” “Zero Year.” “Endgame.” Just one of these stories would have defined a legendary run for any creative team. During Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run we got ALL of these story arcs in one single run. Even “Superheavy,” which was one of their lesser received arcs, still beats most comic storylines in recent memory. So how are Synder and Capullo going to end their final issue?
“Gotham Is” starts with a very familiar setting with Alfred coming down to the Batcave to give Bruce his protein shake before he goes on patrol. Just then all of the lights go out in Gotham. What caused it? Who caused it? Is it an old enemy or someone new? Will Gotham tear itself apart during the blackout?
This statement may seem odd, but the most interesting thing about this story is actually that nothing really happens. Have you ever seen a TV sitcom where it’s just an episode of clips of previous episodes? That’s what happens in this issue. Almost every panel is a reference to an earlier issue in their run or even a conclusion to former plot points. Also former Batman tropes you know and love are back, like Batman disappearing before Gordon can finish his sentence, or (yet another) Arkham breakout. At this point Batman and Gordon have dealt with it so much they have a contingency plan just in case. The familiarity may even make you feel uneasy, since you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The slow pacing of this story means one thing: we finally see progress in Gotham. There are no lights, but instead of tearing itself apart, they actually lend a helping hand to each other. He even meets a former goon he beat up 5 years ago (yes the story is in REAL time) has turned his life around. I get the sense that this feels like the calm before the storm. Batman actually spies on his rogues gallery and even though they’re not responsible they’re basically all saying “not yet.”
Capullo has left us with parting gifts. Batman’s redesigned costume is in fact his Rebirth costume. You guessed it, it looks VERY similar to his BVS costume. The new Batmobile however is a big departure. It’s quite the sexy beast, but it actually resembles Keaton’s Batmobile for some reason. Other than the redesign, it does feel like Snyder has completely hit the reset but for Batman. Alfred, Gordon, and Bruce are all back to status quo. In fact Bruce doesn’t even have the scars on his body from being Batman any more. One wrinkle that’s left behind is the fate of the Joker, but that’s a time for another tale.
Snyder and Capullo had fun with their toys, but now it’s time to put the toys back in the box before it’s time to leave the playhouse. One could say this story is basically the equivalent of not doing any work at 4:30 right before you clock out at 5, but as much as this entire run has been going at such a breakneck pace, they’re owed a day off just as much as Batman has. In fact it’s probably my favorite single issue non-story arc of the entire run, because at its heart it’s a love letter to the fans that have kept up with this series. I hope you comic fans understand and appreciate how special this run really was. This doesn’t happen often in this industry.