Review: Batman #50
Batman #50 is an epic capper on the ten part “Superheavy” arc that closes out Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s almost five years on the title as Bruce Wayne returns as Batman and with the help of Jim Gordon, Duke Thomas, and even Geri Powers banishes Mr. Bloom and the people he has infected from Gotham City. In the issue, Snyder reiterates the theme of a family and community approach to heroism that has echoed throughout his run from Batman’s mistakes in “Death of the Family”, his growing relationship with Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth in “Zero Year”, and finally in “Superheavy” where it’s the aging, dying ex-police commissioner, who saves the day using the literal power of the people, and not the superhero at the peak of his powers. (This is because the dionesium that revived Batman healed all his scars and wounds from his crime fighting career in a clever bit of plotting from Snyder.)
Basically, rugged individualism gets you someone like Mr. Bloom, who in trying to make Gotham a better place for the disenfranchised, ends up literally twisting the people he wants to save. Newly energized, Batman tries to do everything himself early on in the issue, but fortunately, Gordon overrides his command, and a simple command for his “rookie” suit that was used early on in “Superheavy” ends up turning the tide. A Yanick Paquette drawn epilogue hints at a more teamwork friendly Batman working closely with the GCPD (who is being supported financially by Geri Powers) as well as training Duke Thomas as the new Robin. It will be interesting to see what the new Batman team does with this new status quo as Gotham tries to bounce back from Bloom’s attack, which crippled Gotham’s willpower and electrical power.
The art team of Capullo, inker Danny Miki, and colorist/Why hasn’t he won an Eisner extraordinaire FCO Plascencia give Batman #50 an air of bombast, horror, and triumph with a side of tragedy while Snyder furthers characterization and themes through his novelistic narration and dialogue that has been a hallmark of the series. Everyone is at the peak of their powers from an early double page spread where Batman quickly takes out some of Bloom’s goons in a hail of fire, steam, and blood as Alfred quips about him having some new wounds to stitch up even though he is fresh for now to a pretty frightening sequence where Bloom overrides the various Powers Corporation Batmen and gives them the faces of various Batman villains, including the Joker.
But it’s not all explosions and robots as Capullo and Miki do an excellent job of showing the physical and mental punishment Jim, Julia Pennyworth, Batman, and Duke Thomas take on this long night of the soul. And their depictions of Bloom’s victims are incredibly creepy, especially when Duke finds out that his cousin Daryl is behind the program, which went horribly wrong and is a powerful conclusion to his subplot throughout “Superheavy”. This is the trauma that causes him to fight back and take the final step in his journey to become a hero and Robin in his own right. He gets to a drive a blimp too, which is cool and reminded me of when Carrie Kelly saved Batman from the Mutant gang in The Dark Knight Returns with the help of the Bat-tank. Duke is a living embodiment of what Jim Gordon says in his speech about Batman teaching the people of Gotham to save themselves and become heroes in their own right.
Batman #50 is both an action packed and a thematically resonant conclusion to the “Superheavy” arc and Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and FCO Plascencia’s Batman epic. There are a lot of moving parts and MacGuffins flying about in this double sized, definitely worth your $5.99 issue, but Snyder ties it all together through a powerful speech from Jim Gordon about the power of ordinary human beings working together to fix things, like poverty, inequality, and crime. But Batman can only be Batman, and Paquette shows this in the heartbreaking final pages as Julie Madison rebuilds the daycare center that an amnesiac Bruce Wayne built and sadly can’t be a part of any more.
Story: Scott Snyder Art: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and Yanick Paquette
Colors: FCO Plascencia and Nathan Fairbarn
Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy