The final issue of Batman is here, and while it feels strange to say, Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder aren’t behind it. Truly though, they already said their goodbyes in last month’s excellent issue. Time for a tale from James Tynion IV and AiPT! favorite Riley Rossmo. With the creative team changed, this question is more pertinent than ever: is it good?
Batman #52 (DC Comics)
Well DC Comics is staying tight-lipped about this one, offering us only a very brief summary:
Echoes from Batman’s past ripple out into Gotham City’s future…
The issue opens two weeks after Bruce Wayne’s parents’ murder and cuts between his training in becoming Batman and a new conflict that’s drumming up these past moments.
Why does this book matter?
When I spoke to Scott Snyder last summer I asked him who would take over the series if he had to leave, and one of his picks was James Tynion IV. That means we’re in good hands. Meanwhile, Rossmo has a style that’s incredibly energetic, but also great at being weird, and it’s a rather fascinating thing to see him take on such an iconic hero.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The issue opens with a Doctor Thompkins (Bruce’s psychiatrist) making a visit to see how he’s holding up. Alfred is the last of the help left, but he’s sticking by Bruce because he’s all that Bruce has. A book titled “How to Move On” is introduced, which is used to tether all the moments throughout this issue. Tynion effectively uses this book to give this story a backbone as we see Bruce become Batman, but at the same time try to learn how to move on. Tynion does a good job checking in with key moments in Bruce Wayne’s life and connecting his pain and inability to move to his need to become better.
The storyline that takes place in the current timeline has Batman going after Crypsis, a villain who can phase through walls and teleport, who has broken into a bank. The villain is a basic robber, but his powers are pretty cool and ultimately it’s what he’s after that’s intriguing. It’s not hard to guess what he’s after, but I still found it to be a nice little surprise.
In an alternate universe Batman used TV to get over his parents’ death. You might have seen that story–it was called Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Rossmo’s art continues to be a highlight in the books he works on. The Crypsis character in particular is strange and long-limbed (actually, even Alfred has super long limbs), which makes him seem that much more interesting and creepy. Batman is also fantastically rendered and the purple inside of his cape looks particularly cool with Rossmo’s flair. In one scene Batman fights in the rain and Rossmo uses some neat visual effects at the point of contact which enhance the attacks. While Batman’s limbs are also longer than usual per Rossmo’s style, he gives him just the right amount of muscle so he looks ready to strike and not too hulking. Rossmo also does a good job making Bruce look his age in the flashbacks, from child to teenager– which isn’t easy to do.
It can’t be perfect can it?
While the basic premise works, seeing Bruce carry around his journal is a bit hard to swallow. It’s a visual reminder sure, but I never believed he needed it say, when he was in Japan learning to fight or when he was freezing his butt off in Canada. It’s even more ridiculous and hard to believe when he jumps out of a plane holding the book in his hands. It’s a relatively minor element, but it’s a visual reminder that just feels too forced.
Panels convey his pain but also his awesome ability to disapear.
Is It Good?
This is a good final issue that reminds us Batman is just as human as we are. He went through a traumatic moment and is still living with it today, but because of his relationship to Alfred and his never-ending efforts to move on, the trauma gives way to the Batman.