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Batman #51

Review by Paul Bowler

In the wake of recent events Batman #51 sees the Dark Knight facing a new challenge. Batman has battled so often to protect Gotham from his deadly rogues gallery of villains over the years, from everyone to the Joker, the Court of Owls, and now Mr Bloom, so how will Batman deal with a quiet night in Gotham City..?

Scott Snyder has written for three different characters who have worn the mantel of the Bat, including Dick Grayson during his initial stint on Detective Comics, to Bruce Wayne on Batman, and Jim Gordon in the recent Superheavy arc. Now as Scott Snyder’s incredible run on Batman with artist Greg Capullo concludes in Batman #51, we can reflect on how their collaboration on this title has transformed it into a modern classic, and their tenure in Gotham is sure to down in history as including some of the finest Batman stories ever told.

Now that Mr Bloom is presumably pushing up daises somewhere, Batman #51 presents the Dark Knight with an unusual challenge – a seemingly uneventful evening in Gotham City! Scott Snyder’s final story in this run is a clear love letter to both the character of Batman and the fans themselves as past and present become one. Centred around the powerful resonance of a small life-styles piece in the Gotham Gazette, Gotham Is delves into the world of Batman and the Gothamites he has vowed to protect in a way quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. From the wonderful opening scenes in the Bat-Cave featuring Bruce and Alfred, which Snyder makes both emotionally moving and brilliant fun; wounds old and new are simultaneously healed via a patchwork quilt of new developments, before Batman races away into the night on a clear road to Gotham in spectacular fashion!

Of course, we all know there’s no such thing as a quite night in Gotham City, or is there? A sudden power outage soon brings with it some more pressing concerns and a new threat to the city. Scott Snyder’s dazzling writing style and excellent characterization makes Gotham Is an absolute joy to read, we are treated to a wonderful scene with Jim and Batman next to the Bat-Signal, there’s an intriguing mystery right at the heart of the story for Batman to solve, and plenty of our old Arkham favourites are on the loose as well!

Batman #51 Cover 1

Needless to say, Greg Capullo’s artwork for this issue of Batman is as stunning as ever. From those stylish and fun moments in the Bat-Cave, to the dramatic face-off in Arkham, Capullo channels the narrative of Gotham Is across a wondrous montage of interconnected scenes that beautifully addresses elements from previous arcs, and sets everything up for a glorious final page that will simply take your breath away. Danny Miki’s inks brilliantly highlight every nuance of Capullo’s work, but it is in those shadow swathed scenes during the blackout, on the rooftop of GCPD, then deep below ground, and high over a silhouetted Gotham skyline where Danny Miki really excels. FCO Plascencia’s colors infuse this issue with an uncanny blend of vibrant and muted tones throughout, with flashes of bright purple enhancing the inside the new cape while the vivid yellow of the new Bat-Insignia on Batman’s chest that skilfully blends the old with the news almost leaps off the page at you, and that stunning final scene… Quite frankly, this issue looks incredible!

Featuring a stunning regular cover by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO (Which, incidentally, I think would make an brilliant poster, please make this happen guys!), as well as a terrific variant cover by John Romita Jr. , Batman #51 concludes in the most fan pleasing way imaginable, as Scott Snyder rounds off the narrative of his previous story-arcs in fine style, and effectively brings his tenure with Greg Capullo on Batman full circle in the most heartfelt, exciting, and moving way imaginable. It’s a thoughtful, funny, intense, dialogue-heavy issue, and to say more would spoil it, but suffice to say I enjoyed every single moment of it – even though my enjoyment was tinged with a little sadness that Batman #51 is Snyder’s and Capullo’s final issue.

DC’s Rebirth event has initiated a major wave of change throughout the DCU that is going to herald some big developments in the Bat-Universe. Even though Scott Snyder is indeed moving on from DC’s flagship Batman title, he isn’t leaving the Dark Knight behind completely; in fact, Snyder will now be fronting the brand new monthly series All Star Batman that will also feature art from some of the finest talents in the industry: including John Romita, Jr, Jock, Sean Murphy, and many more. With its epic storyline All Star Batman allows Snyder to use some of the villains that he never got to focus on that much before, such as Two-Face, Mr Freeze, and Catwoman, together with a rotating roster of superstar artist, and back-up stories featuring Duke Thomas. Meanwhile, Greg Capullo will be busy over the next six months working on an uber secret project with Mark Millar, and that’s certainly something that we will all be looking forward to as well. Scott Snyder has also confirmed that he will be working with Greg Capullo again on a new project for DC Comics in 2017 at some point, and I’m sure we will all be excited to see what that will be.

So, as we say farewell to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo with Batman #51 and their brilliant run on Batman with Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia, there’s still Batman #52 written by James Tvnion IV to look forward to before this current volume of Batman ends and everything changes in the Rebirth event. With Tom King taking over on Batman, while James Tynion IV helms Detective Comics, with Tim Seeley on Nightwing, and with Scott Snyder writing All Star Batman, these are certainly exciting times for Batman fans!

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing nearly every issue of Snyder’s and Capullo’s run on Batman. Their take on Batman got me back into reading comics regularly again with Batman #1 (2011). Actually, I was still recovering from badly injuring my left hand at the time – a glass broke while emptying the dishwasher and sliced right though my middle finger, palm, and thumb – but their amazing storylines helped inspire me though that particularly dark time, and now I’m writing and reviewing comic books and stuff here on my blog, and on other sites now as well. So, thank you Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for your legendary run on Batman, because thanks to you guys, for me, and I’m sure for many others besides, Gotham Is: “Batman, fan, forever.”

Publisher DC Comics / Writer: Scott Snyder / Art: Greg Capullo

Inks: Danny Miki / Colors: FCO Plascencia / Letters: Steve Wands

Cover: Capullo / Miki / FCO / Variant Cover: John Romita, Jr.