Review – Batman #52: Bruce vs. Batman

Batman #52 variant cover, credit to DC Comics.

Batman #52 – Tom King, Writer; Lee Weeks, Artist; Elizabeth Breitweiser, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: The other great Tom King comic dealing with trauma and the unhealthy ways people react to it, Batman #52 is essentially a locked-room mystery, as Bruce Wayne finds himself in a jury room with eleven random Gothamites who he has to convince that Batman beat a false confession out of Mr. Freeze. Essentially serving the role of prosecutor against himself, Bruce finds a highly unfriendly audience – he’s trying to sell them on a known maniac’s innocence, and the majority of them are avid Batman fans who view Bruce as a rich dilletante keeping them from reaching a verdict for his own amusement. The twisted identity games Bruce must be going through in his head are fascinating to think about – this is one of the best uses of the dichotomy between Bruce and Batman that I’ve seen in a long time. Batman is ultimately a detective, and I think King is using that to better effect in this arc than he has over his entire run, where Batman tends to go up against larger than life threats. In only twenty pages, Bruce manages to dismantle all the evidence presented at trial and propose alternative theories. The issue is, does anyone care?

Batman vs. Freeze. Credit to DC Comics.

To get political for a moment here, I’m highly skeptical of the American jury system. When you have twelve people who don’t want to be there debating a complex issue, they’ll often go to the easiest narrative, and that’s largely what happens here. Mr. Freeze bad, Batman good, Mr. Freeze guilty. We only get snapshots of most of the jurors, with several of them getting personal moments with Batman in between deliberations. However, the character who seems to be becoming the antagonist is an old woman, who believes in Batman more than anyone there. Batman never wanted to become a beloved figure, but now it’s coming back to bite him at possibly the worst moment – when he was unambiguously wrong at one of the lowest moments of his life. The issue doesn’t quite get across exactly what Batman did after his beating of Freeze, but the implication there is that the evidence might have been tampered with. I was a bit skeptical about stretching this arc out to three parts, but the slow unfolding of Bruce’s case for Mr. Freeze is fascinating. I wish we had seen a bit of Dick as Batman again this issue, but this is one of the most compelling issues of this Batman run, and Batman is barely in it.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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