Batman #51 Review

Batman_Vol_2-51_Cover-1_Teaser

The end of an era has arrived and for all those who have been following Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on ‘Batman’ it is quite an overwhelming time. For fifty-one straight issues they have steered DC’s most iconic hero through trials and tribulations beyond the imaginations of most ordinary men. Forget the movies and TV shows, this was the definitive look at Batman in all his brooding glory and now it is over it is time to look back on this most incredible of runs.

It began with the advent of the misguided ‘New 52’ initiative. From the first arc it should have been clear to everyone who picked up the book that this was something entirely different to what the Caped Crusader had experienced before. ‘The Court of Owls’ was storytelling on a grand scale and it set the stage for the most inventive run in the character’s history. With this introductory arc they took Batman completely out of his typical setting and threw him into a world of the impossible. Under the reign of a lesser writer this would likely have been an absolute mess of a story but Snyder made it into something special. He gave you a look at a broken Bat, one who found himself wholly outmatched and reached down deeper than ever to eke out a win under impossible odds. Batman may be no stranger to triumph but this was one of those rare moments where you first questioned if he could truly make it out in one piece.

Not satisfied with one iconic arc though, Snyder set about crafting another one immediately afterwards with his ‘Zero Year’ story. The special thing to note about Zero Year was not what it did for Batman himself, although it did shine a new light on the character once more, but rather what it did for The Riddler. Riddler has long been a steadfast enemy to The Bat but it is surprisingly rare to see him portrayed in a way that makes him seem dangerous. He relies entirely on his smarts but they never really seem to be enough which has the effect of making him come across as a second rate villain, not worth Batman’s time. In this story he wasn’t just a good villain, he was one of the most dangerous of all time.

Riddler crippled Gotham with relative ease. Think about it, it was this story that Snyder used to reset the Batman mythos he was working on. Riddler was the bad guy that brought about monumental change in this series long before Joker managed it in Endgame. It was that attention to all of the characters at his disposal that made Snyder’s run so memorable, he didn’t cast anyone aside in favour of the titular Knight but instead he knew that a hero is only as good as their opposition.

From there fans got gold heaped upon gold in the forms of ‘Death of the Family’, ‘Endgame’, and the most recent ‘Superheavy’. Not once did Snyder ease up or allow the quality to lower, such is the respect he has for the character and for the fans. But all good things must come to an end and issue #51 provided the perfect opportunity to take a retrospective look at the past five years and to finally close the lid on it all.

There was no grand battle to finish things off, no mad scientist creating his mutant army, no psychopath holding the city to ransom. No, instead there were simply people going about their ordinary lives as Batman soared above them, and it was all beautifully summed up through a column called ‘Gotham Is’.

The issue told how the city was once a den or darkness, how people wrote into said column with fear in their hearts and no hope in their words. It also told of the transformation since Batman became the symbol everyone beholds today. People now see a brighter tomorrow and even when a madman attacks there is a hope for the future. This book is entirely an homage to Batman as well as a fitting handover to the next creative team. It ends this run with a new status quo in place rather a reversion to the old time honoured one.

Snyder takes the time to revisit many familiar faces as a rolling blackout consumes the city. Each villain shows trepidation where they would once have seen opportunity and it is a testament to Batman’s power over the city but it also makes fans wonder what exactly each of these people have in store for the future. Should the next team acknowledge everything that happened in this run, which they most certainly should, then it will be fascinating to find out what becomes of the rejuvenated Joker or the humbled Penguin.

A moment must be taken to thank Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Danny Miki, and Steve Wands for their work both on this book and on all of the others respectively. They have each contributed to this series immeasurably and without them this would not have been the remarkable series that it turned out to be. Every single book has been teeming with life thanks to the collaborative efforts of these artists. They have told a fantastic story just as much as Snyder has and they deserve their share of the praise.

It is said that this team will work together again in the future and you can bet that that book, whatever it may be, will be glorious too. In the meantime, let’s look back at these fifty-one issues with a smile and look forwards to All-Star Batman which Snyder will helm once Rebirth hits.

Score: 10/10.

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Batman #51 Review

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