This is it: the last issue of Batman for the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Will they go out with a bang?
You probably already know the answer to this, but: is it good?
Batman #51 (DC Comics)
In a somewhat poetic way, DC Comics’ official summary says this about the issue:
Batman has battled everything from the Court of Owls to Mr. Bloom to the Joker, but how does he handle a quiet night in Gotham City…?
The book opens with Bruce newly back in the costume. Alfred and others are starting to get used to seeing Batman back in action.
Why does this book matter?
Snyder and Capullo have had a long run with Batman and they haven’t disappointed. With great new villains (Mr. Bloom!), to compelling new ways of putting Batman through the ringer (The Court of Owls) and most importantly making Joker feel fresh and relevant all over again, they have done a fantastic job throughout. It’s going to go down as a top three creative team to ever work on the character, that’s for sure. Isn’t that enough to see their swan song issue?!
Dig the new ride.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
And this certainly is a swan song sort of issue if I ever did read one, but it’s better for it because it’s what the book deserves. Like an honest to goodness love letter, this issue has everything you’d want in a Batman comic. If aliens ever came to Earth and asked, “What is Batman?” you’d simply need to show them this comic. It’s that damn definitive. It opens with a touching moment between Bruce and Alfred, shows off a new Batmobile (because really what is more Batman than a new Batmobile?), and checks in on every element that makes Batman who he is–most importantly Gotham itself.
Using the line “Gotham is” throughout the issue, Snyder kicks off different elements of the city as if the entire issue was a poem which further illustrates this is a love letter to Batman. The line works incredibly well, reminding us Batman is just as much Gotham as he is its hero. There’s also a surprise as to who is saying these captions that is not only clever, but ties into what Batman is all about perfectly. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but what a fantastic convention Snyder came up with to really hammer home what it means to be the Batman!
The main conflict is introduced early as Batman attempts to figure out why all the lights went off in Gotham. He’s sure a villain is the culprit–who else could do this? As he looks for answers we’re reminded of all the fantastic stories Snyder has told in his tenure. It’s a great way to say goodbye, like those montage episodes of TV shows, and I dare you to not feel a tear forming while you read this.
I’ve criticized Snyder for being too verbose with captions or dialogue, but it works splendidly here. It’s actually kind of beautiful how Snyder is saying goodbye to Batman, but at the same time Batman is reintroducing himself as he’s only recently been back at it. Through Alfred, Jim Gordon, and a clever use of captions Snyder can say goodbye, but also revel in how great Batman and his stories can be.
Capullo gets to draw so many great panels too. From a Batman clenching dagger Batarangs, to the new Batmobile, to the villains, to a fantastic moment where the purple inside his cape is called out, there’s just so much to ogle in this issue. In one scene, a stroke of genius, Capullo draws Jim and Batman’s scene together, casting Jim in shadow. We are forced to read his expressions from silhouette alone and Capullo captures all of them extremely well. By forcing us to see him in silhouette, we must look closer to understand and that makes it feel more personal. I couldn’t imagine a better story to end your tenure on. There’s even a Batcave double page spread!
It can’t be perfect can it?
It really is.
Great page in so many ways.
Is It Good?
This is the very definition of who Batman is in every way. Bravo. Snyder and Capullo have managed to express both who Batman is, but more importantly why Batman is so damn great in every way.