Home Comics Batman #51 – An Ode to Gotham City

Batman #51 – An Ode to Gotham City

written by Jordan Cobb April 29, 2016

Batman #51 represents the end of an era and that is no exaggeration with the end of the much beloved and well received run of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Their high quality stories and also the biggest feat of being the most consistent creative team throughout the entirety of DC’s New 52.

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Part of what makes this run memorable was Gotham City itself as a character, and said character is the central focus of our issue. Back off of bringing down Mr. Bloom and returning to the cowl, Bruce Wayne goes out for a night of patrol as Batman, but finds things relatively quiet.

It’s not Batman taking down the latest shenanigans of the Mad Hatter, saving the GCPD from a takeover by Poison Ivy, or whatever crazy plan Scarecrow has concocted, its about Gotham. Snyder has perfectly crafted Gotham into a living thing ever since he started on Detective Comics. He made the city a character and got to the heart of why it’s this place Batman and Bruce Wayne care so much for. Its what helps set his writing apart in that its just more than our hero’s location.

Gotham has a rich history behind it and throughout Snyder’s time on Batman, be it here or Detective Comics, its fully explored and integrated into the story that’s going. It all perfectly works and that’s the case here as Bruce is not only getting back to being Batman, but he’s further getting in touch with his home.

The issue does kind of play like a greatest hits album of Snyder and Capullo and that is well deserved. Its plays out perfectly into the story and what Gotham is to Batman. His visit with Gordon, visit to the Asylum, and moment with the Court of Owls are all completely earned here and don’t come of as self-indulgent in anyway. A most powerful moment came early in the issue with Bruce and Alfred getting ready for the night and how much the events over the past five years has done a lot to their relationship. It’s movingly touching and resonates so well with fans and the creators themselves in how much Alfred is Bruce’s father. How Alfred wishes he could sometimes fight Batman to free Bruce from him. Not gonna lie, got a lump in my throat as I looked on. I dare you not to get one when you read it. Go ahead, I dare you.

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The night out all leads to a confrontation with a minor character all the way back in the Court of Owls storyline and what changes he’s made since coming into contact with Batman. Their conversation strikes a cord as Batman realizes how big a difference he does make upon Gotham and its citizens and the last few pages resonate that with great narration from our minor character as he talks about what Gotham City is. What it is to him, to Batman, to all of its citizens.

This also leads me to why else this run has been great; it makes Batman human again. A core characteristic I believe DC Comics has been forgetting ever since the Grant Morrison run. Now I highly enjoy Morrison’s run for the most part (If anyone has made sense of Batman R.I.P., please alert me in the comments), but he really amped up the plan ahead part of Batman to a ridiculous level to me. He became a walking deus ex machina to a level of parody that is still going on now. Now I enjoy me a good laugh at Batman from that, it’s not what I want to read in my Batman comics. Snyder did that with Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne and it worked splendidly.

Snyder realizes that Batman is that, a man. A man who doesn’t want to let someone else be overtaken by the depression and darkness he feels from when his parents died, a man who wants to truly protect his home and make sure no one can corrupt it. One reason as to his connected family of fellow heroes is so he can stop them from being like him and that he can rely on someone since he can’t do it alone. Now there were a couple of silly BatGod moments such as the Kryptonite gum (yes seriously) but for like a good portion, it’s a grounded Batman that still knew how to play with the more fantastical elements.

Every character involved was properly explored and it says something for such a wide cast of characters this book had that Snyder had time to fully focus on them and he deserves a standing ovation for that.

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Now to focus on the other hugely important part of what has made this run amazing, the art team. Greg Capullo’s pencils are smooth, they are electric, they are perfect. Capullo’s angular look to characters and designs have led to some of the most memorable looks in the seven-decade history of the Caped Crusader. From the Batcycle and train chase in issue 2, the labyrinth from issue 5, to his Joker from Death of the Family and Endgame, it’s all just incredible and he further brings it for his swan song.

Gotham still looks and feels alive through his art with Gotham City itself being given a distinct look that lends itself to the story no matter what location is being used within it from issue to issue. Pacing is also something Capullo excelled at with flying colors as well helping to move the story at the right pace it needed it to be. His action also is dynamic. He makes ever punch feel hard, every kick like the wind just got knocked out of you, and the drama in it. With such a muted issue like this he still manages to make everything felt. The way characters move like Gordon looking back to see if Batman was still there, the speed of the Batmobile, and how Batman glides. It’s brilliant.

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Also the new costume looks ace. Which speaking of the other two members of the art team where a huge success to this. Colorist FCO Plascencia and inker Danny Miki have been essential to this book. They help to further give great detail. From the very vibrant color pallet to the dark and effective inking. Both have complimented each other well and give the book a standout look among the other offerings on the shelves today. Just beautiful.

All good things must come to an end and thankfully is a great ending to what will always be remembered as one of the greatest Batman runs ever done. Well done team, you deserve all the praise.

5 out of 5 columns about Gotham City.

Batman #51 can be picked up at your local comic book shop, from our handy dandy Amazon widget above or digitally at Comixology.

Did this ending live up to all expectations? Did it disappoint? Let us know in the comments below!


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