For the last 10 issues, Jim Gordon has been taking over as Batman while Bruce Wayne suffered a brain death that completely erased his memory. For those 10 issues, Bruce built himself a normal life, helped out with an orphanage and even got engaged. Meanwhile, Mr. Bloom developed a seed technology that could give anyone superpowers, while also terrorizing the city and Batman himself. And with the last issue, Bruce Wayne restored his own Batman memories with a mind backup as the city descended into absolute chaos, sacrificing the memories of the happy life he built for himself. That’s where this issue picks up.
Batman 50, written by Scott Snyder, is a fantastic double-sized issue loaded with action, great dramatic moments and a satisfying conclusion. The action itself feels big as Mr. Bloom’s true intentions, and the possible ramifications if it follows through, are fully revealed. The action is epic in scope, involving not only two Batmans, but a bunch of hacked Batman mechanical suits, civilians fighting each other while powered by seeds, a dramatic fight between two Robins over a personal tragedy and Jim’s own potentially fatal wounds that he received in the last couple of issues. What’s great about this issue is, as glorious as Bruce Wayne’s return is, this is still Jim Gordon’s story, and he’s integral to the solution.
The aftermath is very well written, with Jim reflecting on why he took up the Batman identity in the first place, and how Bloom is a thematically unique villain in the Batman mythos. Everything ends up tying together quite well by the end. There’s an element of tragedy as the loss of Bruce Wayne’s new life is explored through some of the images drawn by Greg Capullo and Yanick Paquette.
Speaking of Capullo’s art, it’s fantastic. You can feel the scale through the well detailed backgrounds alone, as Bloom’s antics cause so much damage in the core of the city. Facial expressions perfectly convey emotions, whether it’s Jim’s determination despite his injuries, the anger in the eyes of one of the Robins and the sense of awe when civilians caught in the chaos see Bruce Wayne’s return. The panels towards the end of the fight taking place in the black sun are particularly beautiful. Paquette hands the epilogue art, which beautifully captures undamaged parts of the city at day, Jim relaxing in his hospital room in the aftermath, and the sadness in the eyes of Bruce’s once fiancé, who he may or may not have any memory of. The colouring is mostly handled by Fco Plascencia, with Nathan Fairbairn colouring the epilogue. The colouring throughout is well varied, fits the intense mood of the fight and only makes the city in the epilogue that much more beautiful.
From start to finish, this is a fantastic issue and among the best in Scott Snyder’s entire Batman run. That’s saying a lot. With one more issue to go before Snyder leaves the Batman series, I know I’ll miss his work on my favourite DC superhero. With the exception of Death of the Family, his run has been utterly fantastic from start to finish, and even Death of the Family is ok, just not great. Batman fans should make sure to check this run out if they haven’t already.
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