Review: Batman #52

The jury in the Mr. Freeze trial is hopelessly deadlocked because one man won’t vote guilty-and that man is Bruce Wayne. Freeze’s defense is that Batman used excessive force, making his arrest illegal, and Bruce is the one man who actually knows for sure what went down between Batman and his ice-cold nemesis. And if Bruce is right, that means everything he’s devoted himself to as the Caped Crusader is a lie; he is hurting more than helping. With Dick Grayson putting the Batsuit back on to keep Gotham City safe while Bruce is sequestered, could this be the out Bruce needs to discard the cape and cowl forever?

One of the events in my life that had an impact on me was my not just sitting on a jury but being the foreman for one. It was a murder trial, just like the one Bruce Wayne is experiencing in Batman #52. While some details are fudged as far as process, the courtroom drama writer Tom King focuses on is riveting and brings me back to that trial almost a decade ago where we had to decide the fate of a man who murdered his wife. Unlike our case, the one Wayne must debate isn’t a 100% lock. Instead, he begins to question what Batman has done, going through the details as if he has never thought about this end of the process before. Batman is the judge and executioner in many ways, but the jury part is a role he often seems to skip. The rogues he deals with, he’s convinced of their guilt, and he’s usually right. But, there’s times maybe he’s wrong in his actions and it’s possible this is the case.

We get to see the duality of Batman in this issue as Wayne breaks down the evidence as if he’s not just there to convince the rest of the jurors but himself as well. Is he making a case to them or is this his justifying his actions?

The issue is writer Tom King‘s continuation of his examination of Batman that began with Rebirth and becomes evident as the issues get into the 40s. With each arc he is writing about one facet of the character, examining it and making us question what we know. Can Batman be happy? What drove the character towards justice instead of revenge? Can he be fallible?

The art by Lee Weeks is memorizing turning what is an issue set within a jury room into a tense drama. The focus on certain characters in panels, the detail of body and facial movement, it all comes together for a story that feels like a dramatic play acted out on the printed page.

Having been on a jury, the arc is hitting me a bit more than I’d expect without that experience. Like Wayne and those around him, the role is a tough one as you decide the fate of an individual and possibly condemn them to death. Luckily, the guilt in mine wasn’t in doubt just if it was an pre-determined act. Still, this issue, and the last, have gotten me to think about the decisions we made and whether we debated everything properly. It’s a fascinating piece of work that shows that even without the cowl, Batman works at an entertaining and amazing level.

Story: Tom King Art: Lee Weeks
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review