Review – Batman #51: The Unraveling of Bruce Wayne

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Batman #51 cover, credit to DC Comics

Batman #51 – Tom King, Writer; Lee Weeks, Artist; Elizabeth Breitweiser, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: Coming off the devastating wedding issue that ended with Batman being left at the altar (well, rooftop), Bruce Wayne is not in a great mental place as Batman #51 opens. And what’s the one thing that’ll make everyone feel better? Jury duty! Bruce shows up to do his civic duty alongside the regular citizens of Gotham, and doesn’t try very hard to get excused despite the fact that it means he’ll be sequestered for the duration of the several-week trial. It almost feels like he’s using this as an excuse to decompress, be forced to take time off from Batman – for good reason. Flashbacks show that he brutally beat Mr. Freeze in their last encounter, nearly killing him – and it’s just his bad luck that the trial of Mr. Freeze, over the murder of three young women that he confessed to under duress by Batman, is the trial he’s been assigned to serve as a juror. This puts Bruce in a massively complex ethical position, as he can’t exactly tell the judge why he’s biased.

Batman #51 interior page, credit to DC Comics.

While Bruce becomes engrossed in the trial, questioning his own judgement as the attorney for Freeze grills Commissioner Gordon about Batman’s role in the investigation, Batman is still out there – with a different person under the mask. It’s great to see Dick Grayson back as Batman temporarily, as I always liked his energetic, youthful take on the cowl. He appears briefly here, beating up Killer Croc and calling Bruce to check up on him. Bruce isn’t answering, and King makes very clear just how damaged he is right now. The scene where he rips a urinal out of the wall in the courthouse is amusing, yes, but it shows how deep his rage goes – something that’s much less amusing when shown in the terrifying scenes involving Mr. Freeze. Ultimately, this issue seems to be about Bruce figuring out just how far he’s gone, and confronting the fact that his pain and grief is making him unable to operate as Batman. The ending, which puts Bruce in a classic 12 Angry Men position with the jury, sets up a fun second part of this arc. However, the bigger story here – Bruce picking himself up from one of the worst blows of his life – is just getting started.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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