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Review: Batman #53

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?

There is something that few will discuss that have been on a jury, the fact you get to play god with someone’s life. Whether it’s letting them walk free, be behind bars for a time period, or decide on taking their life through the death penalty, as a juror, you have to make a decision that will make or break the future of the accused. I’ve sat on a jury for a murder trial, I was the foreman, and I can’t deny this concept crossed my mind on a few occasions during the few weeks of my experience.

Writer Tom King takes this head on but expands it to Batman as a whole who we are reminded is just a man, a fallible man. He’s not the god-like being that so many in Gotham has made him out to be since he has saved so many of their lives. And this case is made through the words of Bruce Wayne. Batman #53 is the conclusion of the story arc focusing on the arrest of Mr. Freeze and whether Batman made a mistake in doing so. But, there’s a bigger picture. It’s Bruce Wayne coming to grips with Batman, what he means in his life, and the recent event of being left at the altar. This is the closest we’ve gotten Bruce to confess to his reality in a while and it’s a heartbreaking one that’s worthy of a confession to a Priest. King has been deconstructing Wayne and Batman and by issue’s end we’re at square one going back to basics.

King is helped by artist Lee Weeks and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser whose art gives us an arc that feels like a classic play in look. Taking place in the jury room, everyone discusses the case and their thoughts with panels focused on each character and their every movement. It’s the details here that stand out, like a cross around the neck. The coloring is limited with a style that reminds me of some of the classic Batman stories like “The Long Halloween.” Lettering by Clayton Cowles emphasizes keywords as if noting to the actor were to deliver the emotional punch.

This entire arc feels like a play with actors taking on roles and delivering an emotional punch. It’s a story that helps define Batman not as a god who is always right, but as a man who makes mistakes. It’s a realization of reality by Bruce. This is one hell of an arc and a story that I can go back to over and over to pick out the tiny details. A fantastic ending that launches both Batman and Bruce Wayne in a new direction and a dose of reality.

Story: Tom King Art: Lee Weeks
Color: Elizabeth Breitweiser Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review