Only two titles have kept my attention throughout the whole of the New 52 – this and Batgirl. Of the two, Batman is more consistently good and when it needs to, it has moments of sheer genius. Scott Snyder not only gave Bruce Wayne a powerful story, but he turned Gotham City itself into a character of sorts. A lot of people found Death of the Family lacking, sure (and that includes me), and there were moments when I didn’t like the Year Zero storyline, but Court of Owls, Endgame and Jim Gordon’s stint as Batman all deserve their place in history as great Batman sagas. And with today’s Batman 51, Snyder’s New 52 Batman run has come to an end.
After a very intense, double-sized Batman 50, it’s nice to have a relatively quiet issue. What really makes this issue work though, in contrast to other issues in this series, is the sense of hope. After a power outage blacks out the entire city, Batman goes on a quest to investigate all the major players to find who caused it, even though several allies suggest that it might be naturally caused. Most of Batman’s famous enemies are behind bars, secure even in the power outage. Others aren’t planning anything big, and even one potential break-in turns out to be a reformed criminal trying to use a portable generator to finish writing a column. That last point brings a great conversation between the reformed man and Batman that also references an awesome moment from early in Snyder’s run. Their conversation gives perspective to the issue as a whole. The issue is also framed by the column itself. It really does feel like the perfect way for Snyder to cap off his run, with a sense of hope for the city.
The art by Greg Capullo is great. The opening shows off the Bat cave in great detail, with several floors of equipment and various items on display. The environmental detail only gets more impressive as Batman heads into Gotham City, whether it’s the forest complete with grass, trees and rocks on the side of the road, or the city itself with a variety of blacked out buildings in the background, only illuminated by the moonlight. The montage toward the end, showing various citizens enjoying the power outage and treating each other with respect, further emphasizes the feeling of hope. The last page spread of the power coming back on, with Batman watching the city from atop a gargoyle, is the perfect closer. Fco Plascencia’s colouring is fantastic. The bat cave is well-lit and colourful, as are Batman’s villains stuck in prison, while the rest of the comic features hues that add to the calm atmosphere.
If there is a better way for Snyder to cap off his Batman run, I can’t think of it. His run may have had its ups and downs (far more ups), but from Endgame on, it’s been an utterly fantastic run. And I know that he’s working on All-Star Batman for DC Rebirth, but for the foreseeable future, this is the last time he’ll be working with Greg Capullo. Batman fans should make sure to read Court of Owls, Endgame, Year Zero and Jim Gordon’s stint as Batman, whether in solo issues or in trade.
In case the creative team happens to read this, thank you for such a great Batman series.