Published on: 4/27/2016
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia
So, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are ending their outstanding run on “Batman”. This is issue 51, their last goodbye before they depart, never to tell the tale of Batman again—until Rebirth when Scott Snyder starts his run on “Detective Comics”. But now is the time to look back and feel a fond nostalgia for all the achievements, all the moments, all the exquisite torture we had to endure as Scott Snyder wove his tale of the Dark Knight… except for Zero Year, that was a garbage story for garbage people.
I remember back to the start of New 52. Jim Lee had given all the Justice League terrible new costumes, Aquaman was weirdly popular, and “Stormwatch” was a book. It was during that turbulent time that Snyder’s Batman launched onto the page, punching all the inmates in Arkham. There was so much action and fighting yet it was balanced with intrigue, a dark and sinister plot creeping its way into Gotham. It was such a compelling read from the very first panel and 51 issues later the book was pretty consistent—except for Zero Year which I would like to remind you was a garbage story for garbage people. And that’s why this issue meant so much. Scott Snyder accomplished the impossible for me. I adamantly do not care about Batman and yet I couldn’t get enough of these stories. And after the climactic finale of issue 50, it’s time for Snyder and Capullo to do a victory lap.
The issue opens with an old Bruce Wayne getting dressed as a new Batman—this one’s kind of hard to explain. Pretend Bruce is an old laptop and they had to activate RestoreIt. So he’s suiting up, ready to take up the mantle of Batman once more after the tenure of RoboBat—also hard to explain but Gordon had to wear a Batman robo suit to fight a giant flower while Bruce was dead—also hard to explain but it involved the Joker who came back after he died—at this point it may be better if you just take my words at face value and we move on. But the take away I got from this scene was a reset, taking it back down to zero to let a new world unfold for Batman. Though there was one other takeaway from this scene—Alfred got his fucking hand back!
One thing that I’ve loved about Snyder is he is one who loves consequences. When Bruce escaped the court of owls it initiated an attack on Gotham. When Joker revealed Batman’s dirty secrets in “Death in the Family” it caused the whole of the Batfamily to ostracize Bruce. And when Alfred had his hand cut off he was missing one of his fucking hands! It was such a heavy symbol for the book, this was collateral damage directly caused by Batman and it personally affected him. It was a permanent reminder that the cowl is a burden to not just Bruce. And then issue 51 opened and Alfred was practically doing Jazz Hands! So all the magnitude, all the guilt and pressure Bruce had to shoulder just fluttered away with nothing more than a line of dialogue about hand surgery. If something as severe as dismemberment can be washed away with the blink of an eye, what emotional impact does anything have? Batman already has this problem with death but now there’s no stakes to any fight Bruce gets pulled into. Not only will Bruce come out untouched but all his friends and family get a free pass as well.
Overall it was a good issue though. Yeah the action was a bit light but what it lacked in fighting it made up for in wistfulness. There were mentions to things from the very first issue like the Whisper Gang and the labyrinth from the Court of Owls. But it’s not just a run through memory lane but an examination of how Gotham has grown. “Invincible” had something very similar with its reboot. Mark had to relive his early years as Invincible, redoing every critical moment of his life. It was this opportunity to see how Mark did as a super hero and maybe see how he could have done better—which was kind of a dick move by the time travel alien because of course things are gonna be better the second time around.