Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
There are very few comic runs that I have enjoyed quite so much as Scott Snyder’s tenure on Batman. With only one issue remaining, issue 50 really feels like a solid conclusion to an epic adventure that has served as a point of constant stability throughout the years following the launch of the New 52.
The short answer to what makes this issue so great is that Batman is back. While Jim Gordon was doing his best (though not as good as Dick Grayson) he wasn’t the real thing, and we all knew it. I’ve been waiting for Bruce to come and take his cowl back ever since he reappeared several issues ago. Don’t get me wrong, new Bruce was an interesting thought experiment, what Bruce could be if he weren’t wrapped up in the pain and loss that gave birth to Batman. Not surprisingly, he was still a good man, doing what he could to improve the lives of those around him. Unfortunately, this was not enough and Bruce had to become Batman once again. This issue picks up with Batman shedding Bruce Wayne and picking up the cowl that he was destined to wear (or at least the newest iteration of it). Of course this is in the nick of time, as Snyder has once again completely and utterly wrecked Gotham. Bloom, who is one of the more bizarre villains to grace the pages of Batman, has grown to epic proportions, has filled Gotham with his seeds and opened a new “sun” in the middle of the city. With Gordon nearly incapacitated Bloom has nearly won the day.
I know full well that there is another issue of Snyder Batman coming, but it honestly feels unnecessary. This is the ending I was looking for. Batman saves the day as only he can, but as much as this issue was about the return of Bruce (again), it was about the ordinary people of Gotham standing up for themselves, as depicted by Jim Gordon.
Gordon turns out to be the real hero of the issue. Even as Batman comes charging in with his Mega-Zord-like robot, it’s Gordon who puts his life on the line and risks everything to save his city. I think this is the point of Snyder’s run: the idea that superheroes are wonderful things, but that in the end its ordinary citizens who make a difference and defeat the real enemies. In fact, at the end of the issue Gordon is the one who gets the big emotional speech. Normally I’m not a big fan of these speeches. They almost always feel forced and inserted just to make a point that the writer feels like making at the time. And yes, there are certainly elements of that in this speech, but it feels more like a capstone to a daring and ultimately successful series of story arcs.
My biggest complaint about the issue has to be the fact that Gordon lives at the end. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Gordon is one of the best characters in Batman, but the fact that he survives and everything is returned to the old status quo really takes the impact out of Gordon’s attempted sacrifice. Had he actually given his life to take down Bloom, it would have shown that he was right about regular people being the key to saving the city. Instead we are given another comic book “miracle” and a normalizing of everything.
Snyder’s writing may have been what initially drew me to the series, but Capullo’s art kept me wanting more. After last issue’s fill-in, I was even more excited to see the series’ regular return to finish out the run. Capullo really outdid himself on this one. Toward the end of the fight there are some amazing panels, filled with color and line of a wonderful organic nature that fits Bloom to a tee. While the writing may drive the story, the art in this book matches so well. There is a harmony between the words on the page and the images that go along with them that has continued to make this one of the best books DC has put out in years.
Of course after the main story ends, the reader is given a second artist to pick up the epilogue. Paquette is no slouch either, in fact far from it. If I hadn’t just spent nearly 50 pages drooling over Capullo’s art, I’d have amazing things to say about the epilogue as well. It’s not bad, but trying to follow what has come before it, the work seems somewhat plain and lacking in the same level of line detail that Capullo features.
While there is still one more issue before Snyder hands off the series, I would have been completely content to end things right here. My only hope moving forward is that Snyder doesn’t pull the same thing that Geoff Johns did, and wrap up the entire series, leaving the new writer a rather sizeable hole to dig out of. 4/5 Death Stars