Bruce Wayne is as much Batman as Batman is Bruce Wayne, but in recent issues writer Scott Snyder has proven Bruce can go on without the cape and cowl. That is until innocents become threatened and his city is under fire. Can Bruce take back the mantle? Is it good?
Batman #50 (DC Comics)
Last month Batman was fed up with Mr. Bloom—a giant flower-headed psychopath turning the city into plant food—and rushed to Wayne manor to take back his cape and cowl. He was able to bring back his memories and training via a computer upload. I know, it’s kind of wacky, but this issue opens with him ready to suit up.
Why does this book matter?
It’s the 50th issue! Plus, like with Superman, we’re getting the hero we love back in the cape and cowl.
Here we go!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What we have here is a 55 page 50th issue extravaganza that’s hell-bent on making us cheer for the Batman we haven’t seen in ages, at least in this book. It’s also a love letter to Jim Gordon and the work that he’s done and Snyder does a good job closing the book on his version of Batman. So often comic books end a story with little to no reason or explanation, but here we get a solid reasoning from multiple characters as if to say the idea was worth exploring but we all know Bruce as Batman is the real way to go.
At the same time Snyder proves Batman isn’t as strong without a trusty Jim Gordon by his side. From their first encounter to the epilogue, Snyder establishes their admiration and understanding of each other incredibly well. If you ever wanted to read a single issue that showcases their bond, this is it.
There are a few balls floating in the air with this issue from Batman, to Jim Gordon, and finally Duke, and Snyder bounces between them effectively. You’re never confused or disinterested in what is going on because we cut away and back again at interesting moments. It also allows him to deliver solid exposition on Mr. Bloom’s backstory, Jim Gordon getting some retribution and Batman himself kicking some much needed ass.
And ass kicking is what we get! Artist Greg Capullo gets to do a lot in this issue and the art never suffers for it. From skyscraper-sized mech action to Batman using a GCPD flag to kick ass, there are all sorts of fun sequences to take in. One in particular has Mr. Bloom’s head, the size of a small house, being dragged through a skyscraper and the angle at which we see it is from inside. It serves to show the scope of the character and the damage being dealt all at once quite well.
It can’t be perfect can it?
All that said, how Jim Gordon and Batman attempt to take down Mr. Bloom is confusing. It involves some sort of power source…or something, and it doesn’t help that Mr. Bloom’s big attack isn’t really explained either. Maybe a re-read of this arc in one sitting would help a bit, but it reads like confusing jargon and McGuffin-level explanations are given. It also doesn’t help that Mr. Bloom’s power set is getting out of hand. Like a little kid coming up with new powers for his impossible scenario, it feels like Mr. Bloom gets powers and abilities to serve the plot which which makes much of his takeover feel like an unearned series of events.
Then there’s a long stretch of the issue where Jim Gordon narrates that is very heavy on the verbiage and feels forced. It starts off with Jim talking over his radio about power levels and then he goes into what his experience was like as Batman and the need for such a hero at all. It’s sort of slapped into the comic like a forced goodbye letter, goes into why we are stronger because of our differences, and the purpose of bats (messengers from the land of the dead). It’s rife with big ideas and certainly isn’t a terrible speech, but could have been stronger sprinkled through an entire issue rather than running alongside the big climax.
The epilogue doesn’t feel genuine either. Though we get a good reason for these characters
new directions, it’s too much like a hard stop and redirect for the next story arc than a natural progression. It doesn’t feel earned since everything changes on a dime.
Not only is this image kind of horrific, it shows off how huge Bloom has become.
Is It Good?
As far as climactic issues are concerned, this book delivers. We get Batman being the hero we love, storylines wrap up adequately and there’s a huge battle to go along with it. Unfortunately the heavy use of dialogue bogs things down and there’s a strong sense that things are changing because the next story arc demands it, not because it’s earned.