Review – Batman #53: One Angry Bat

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Batman #53 variant cover, credit to DC Comics,.

Batman #53 – Tom King, Writer; Lee Weeks, Artist; Elizabeth Breitweiser, Colorist

Ray – 9.5/10

Ray: Tom King’s Batman run has always been about trauma, but that’s never been as clear as in Batman #53. This arc, Cold Days, takes place only days after the failed BatCat wedding and finds Bruce Wayne in a jury room, trying to convince eleven other Batman-loving Gothamites that Batman beat a confession out of Mr. Freeze in a fit of rage. It’s not an easy sell, and tensions are already rising high when the arc begins. One thing that’s a standout about this story is the way King manages to humanize random characters who we’ll likely never see again, as Bruce encounters them in the men’s room, on the lunch line, etc. This issue focuses on Missy, the strong-willed older lady who has been one of Bruce’s primary opponents in the trial. Bruce quickly picks up that she’s a woman of faith, a devout Christian, and opens up to her about his own religious background. He specifically mentions that his father was a Christian, a slight note to the fact that Martha very much wasn’t – she was Jewish, something I would love if they acknowledged openly.

Batman bares his soul. Credit to DC Comics.

This issue goes into depth about exactly what faith means to Bruce, the way he lost it after the death of his parents. He went searching for something, anything to give his life meaning again – and he found Batman. Lee Weeks does some amazing, minimalist pages showing off Batman’s war against some of Gotham’s rogues, done in brilliant two-color style. He argues that he came to rely on Batman as his equivalent of God, and he makes the case that so much of Gotham has done the same. This doesn’t quite feel like Twelve Angry Men so much as it does an extended therapy session – Bruce has corralled this jury to work out his issues with him, and the reveal that he bribed his way onto the jury to fix his own mistake is really the most Batman thing ever. Batman is not infallible, but he’ll never let his mistakes simply stand. This issue has a lot of references to the Book of Job as Bruce picks himself up from one of the most painful moments of his life and begins anew – with a new costume with fewer memories. As the second half of King’s Batman run begins, I see no reason to believe it won’t be just as exceptional as the first half.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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