Mr H. and Alex Discuss: Batman #50

Batman50What started as Mr H and Alex talking about their Batman #49 minireviews quickly evolved into a full blown discussion about Scott Snyder‘s entire run on Batman from the outset of the New 52 all the way through to the fiftieth issue. Originally conceived as a single post, they quickly realized something: Mr H and Alex love Batman.

Yesterday (which was actually Tuesday), we finished talking about Superheavy, but neither of us had read the 50th issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s iconic run on Batman.

Today (actually Wednesday), we both picked up the 50th issue. An issue that actually started the whole Discuss idea after we had spent an evening gushing over Snyder and Capullo‘s run. As always, there will be spoilers from here on out. We’re talking about the entire issue in detail, after all.

Alex: Well, Mr H. It’s finally here… You ready?

Mr H: Yes.

Alex: When we left off yesterday, you made a very poignant point that; that in order for Batman to live, then Bruce Wayne has to die. It’s a heartbreaking moment in issue #49 as Alfred, who for all intent and purposes is (as you said) Bruce Wayne‘s dad. Here is a man who has to watch his bloody son give up any chance of happiness in order to save a city. It’s a heartbreaking moment, and a sacrifice that Bruce Wayne willingly makes

The joy I felt when I saw Batman looking back at me from Bruce Wayne‘s eyes was almost entirely cancelled by the knowledge that he would likely never know the happiness that he fights so hard to ensure the citizens of Gotham will have a chance at. That he had with Julie Madison.

Needless to say, I have been counting the days down until I finally had this physically solid comic in my hands (price tag be damned). Was it worth the wait…?

Mr. H: To answer simply put: yes. This issue was fantastic. I loved how we opened with Jim in peril and Mr. Bloom actually felt menacing this time around. All that abruptly ends when we get Bruce Wayne now as Batman again landing on the bat signal thrashing one of Blooms thugs. He utters the single greatest line in Snyder‘s writing history “Hello Jim, who died and made you Batman?” Right then and there should be some lightning from the sky proclaiming the true Dark Knight Returns. The panel which Bruce shows off his new updated Batman costume is just plain magic. He seemed so lively he’d pop right off the page. Absolutely spectacular. I love the inclusion of yellow back in the Batman costume but what was really cool was the bat symbol is the reverse of Jim Gordon‘s. It’s visually striking. It doesn’t look bulky or heavy. Next thing within a few lines of snappy dialogue Batman and Jim Gordon are back right side by side. The ultimate reunion.

Alex: I honestly felt the issue didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sold comic, but it’s not the best in the arc (issues #44 and #49 hold that title for me), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. The opening sequence, with Jim being ambushed and Batman rising from the shattered bat signal was visually stunning, but what really got me was the monologue at the beginning of the issue; the line “give them the Batman they deserve,” was fantastic, especially when you realized just who was saying it about whom.

Mr. H: To me this issue was quite the experience not only did it have so much hype and expectations but it wasn’t afraid to go into new territory. Having a fully healed, mentally competent and confident Bruce Wayne back in the cowl was a joy to watch. I say watch because I felt as if while I’m reading it was a blockbuster movie. It had street level drama, blythe comedy and over the top action sequences. Like I said I like how Mr. Bloom seemed formidable in this issue, like a giant gangly walking nightmare. He was truly terrifying. Bruce just jumps in the fray though like, I’m Batman and I’m ready for you.

What’s great though, is Bloom doesn’t cower, he actually revels in the challenge. The downside about his characterization though is his powers are so vague that he can do just about everything without nary an explanation. It was almost too much at times, but still an improvement upon his earlier appearances.

Alex: Yeah, the exponential growth of Bloom and Batman‘s spangly new mech-suit were the low-lights this issue for me. While the action scenes were great, I’d have preferred to see that as the new Batsuit verses normal-ish sized Bloom, but I don’t think the impact of Batman returning would have so immediately felt if he wasn’t 40 odd foot tall.

It also made the first full reveal to Gotham’s people that much more epic. The homage to Detective Comics #27 with Batman swinging in to grab Duke was so cool. It was one of my favourite panels in the book, honestly, because of what it meant to me. So I get why Snyder had another mechsuit for Batman, but it wasn’t a highlight for me personally.

Mr. H: Yes all those scenes had the subtlety of a Michael Bay Rom Com. As long as we are talking disappointments, for me it had to be the reveal that Duke‘s buddy Darryl was originally trying to be Mr. Bloom. It was supposed to be personal for Duke (who may be the first African American Robin) but it didn’t have weight to it. Not the emotional weight it was supposed to have at least.

Alex: Yeah, the Daryl as Bloom felt shoehorned.

Mr. H: Now back to the good. Jim Gordon. Yes, yes, 1000 times yes! This was his shining moment. Jim was his own stubborn self and ignored Bruce’s instructions for his safety. He got to be the true hero of the day. Even with his internal bleeding, he came through. I smiled at the scene where he commandeered the mech bat suit and lit up a cigarette. We got the idea that it was the end of the world and he was going out guns a blazing. Plus my good buddy (The incomparable Jonny C) pointed out to me the dialogue chosen for the final scene where Gordon says “One last time, until we say goodbye ” was really Scott and Greg‘s way of saying farewell to the readers. I thought that was a classy touch.

Alex: Bloody hell, I missed that! You know, while this issue was, in the most cynical sense, about restoring the status quo of Gordon and Batman, I did enjoy how Snyder did it on his own terms. The Jim Gordon monologue at the end was genuinely emotional, and I actually thought, for just long enough, that Gordon wouldn’t survive. I could see the poetry in Bruce replacing the man who tried to be Batman after the original’s supposed death after Gordon sacrificed himself for Gotham. It would have been a nice circle (but I’m glad it didn’t happen).

New Suit BatmanI think that one of the best things, and hopefully the longest lasting change, to come from this arc is the new suit. I know we’ve both got a ton to say on that suit, so do you want to start?Mr. H: I was right with you there sir! It reminded me of that scene in Saving Private Ryan with the pistol and the Panzer Tank. I actually thought this was Jim‘s swan song. I am however so relieved it wasn’t. Just a great dramatic moment in comic book history there.

Now the suit! That wonderful suit. It to me is the perfect amalgamation of the original Batsuit from Detective Comics #27 in 1939 and the revamped Batsuit from the new 52 relaunch. I really like the purple lining on the inside of the cape, and the much less armored appearance. It has more of compression sportswear look to it, with the exception of the gloves and the boots. So very glad we got the color yellow back too. Batman has been too dreary for a long time. We needed a splash of color. What a stunning artistic achievement by the guru of the pencil, Greg Capullo.

Alex: Oh absolutely. I was really impressed with the symbol, too. Like you’d said before we started this, it’s an inverse of the colours of Jim‘s, which is a brilliant way to acknowledge Jim‘s legacy as Batman going forward. That’s a great tribute by Batman to one of his oldest friends who in many ways the brother he never had. Jim knows who Batman is, has probably always known, just as I’m sure Bruce knows that Jim knows. But they don’t mention it to each other because it’s never mattered before. But now, with this is a stronger, faster Bruce Wayne who is so much more than he was, we will see an added layer to their friendship as not only is Jim now aware of what Bruce does for Gotham, but Bruce also has a deeper respect for a man who tried – and honestly succeeded – to become a new Batman, and the suit reflects that brilliantly.

Mr. H: What else can be said other than these two creators get Batman better than anyone who has ever touched the character. The groundwork they laid here if done correctly can provide for decades of great storytelling. I am sad they are leaving but glad they are doing so at the top of their game. They gave me everything I wanted from Batman and then even more I didn’t know I wanted but now I’m so glad we got it!

People say superheroes teach us to be better than ourselves but I’ve always disagreed with that sentiment. Now most will point to a certain fictional Kansas native as the standard bearer for that (I have my own special Midwestern inspiration, but like most best things I’ll keep it a secret) but I like how Snyder is telling us through Jim‘s dialogue at the end, it’s not the superheroes that inspire us. It’s the every day good people of the world that give the heroes the inspiration to bring out the belief in ourselves. Like they said. Mr. Bloom could have been anybody, a lost soul that went down through the cracks. However not just anybody can be Batman because Batman doesn’t exist as one person not what he stands for at least. What I’m trying to say in the end, if we live our lives right and give our best to achieve the utmost potential, we ALL get to be Batman.

And that’s a fantastic place to end today. Next time on Discuss, Mr. H and Alex are going to be talking about a new move that came out this week. You may be able to guess which one. So join them on the same Bat-channel, at the same Bat-time and find out just how much they have to say about a movie!