Batman has now officially left the immensely talented hands of Scott Snyder and found its way into the equally brilliant grasp of James Tynion IV. Due to the fact that this is the last issue in the series before Rebirth hits, there was never going to be too much room for the new team to put their individual stamp on proceedings but nonetheless it was interesting to see what they could do with the character that they will be chaperoning into a new era.
With the limitations that are inherent with essentially writing a one shot issue no one could expect this to be a standout Batman tale. It was always going to be slightly hamstrung but then the whole point of this from a fan’s perspective was simply to see what Tynion et al were capable of and how their run stood to fare. After this instalment it seems sensible to approach that Rebirth renumbering with some caution.
This was not out and out a bad issue at all. In fact, it had some very interesting elements such as the splicing of Batman’s current life with his childhood introversion following the death of his parents. Seeing the two play out side by side did a lot to inform the motivations of this character, though that is not something the audience really needs to be told about due to writer’s propensity to revisit the formative years of The Caped Crusader. Still, it did a lot to take Bruce Wayne from those petulant early stages of his journey all the way to this new stage of his life where is seems to have been afforded some clarity though not any reprieve from his self-sacrificing lifestyle. That journey involves crossing items off of a list detailing how to cope in life, each one more destructive than the last until he finally reaches the cathartic entry penned by Alfred in the hopes of saving him as a child.
All of this is going on whilst a very minor plot plays out in Gotham where Batman is chasing down a low level bank robber who can walk through walls. The robber, Crypsis, is a rather goofy looking character who would be more at home in a carnival. He offers precious little in the way of drama or entertainment value but he does facilitate Batman’s complete journey which began with Snyder’s issue #1 way back when.
The writing itself is perfectly good as one would expect from a creator as talented as Tynion. He has turned in some amazing work through collaborations on this very series with Snyder and with his excellent miniseries pairing Batman with the Ninja Turtles. So despite the lack of spark in this issue it is still easy to believe that the series is in good hands going forwards. It will be key that Tynion uses more dynamic villains and impactful stories than the ones on display here though. It must be said that the way in which he moved Batman on from being a broken wreck of a man to one who is a touch more contented and at peace with the loss of his parents was masterful and incredibly difficult to pull off.
Moving on to Riley Rossmo and Brian Level who have taken over the art from Greg Capullo. Those were some pretty big shoes to fill and sadly this pairing just couldn’t manage it. The drawings are weirdly angular and just jar too much with the sleek, stylised designs of before. Yes, they needed to put their own stamp on the title but this feels like the wrong way to go about it as even Batman doesn’t look as crisp as he did. The action is far less fluid and the settings do not carry the same sense of foreboding or oppression that Gotham should always hold. It’s far from the worst art around but it really leaves a lot to be desired.
Truly this series should have ended with #51 as it was the perfect way to sign off on the New 52 Batman. It was stretched to #52 for obvious reasons but that should be deemed a mistake as this proved to be an unnecessary entry. It did nothing different from Snyder’s last offering except to do it all slightly worse than he did. The future for Batman could still be very bright indeed but Rebirth will need to bring with it a complete change in direction.
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