BATMAN #51 [Review]

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BATMAN #51/ Written by SCOTT SNYDER/ Pencils by GREG CAPULLO/ Inks by DANNY MIKI/ Colors by FCO PLASCENCIA/ Published by DC COMICS

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s iconic run on Batman comes to close with issue #51, and what a perfect sendoff it is. Since DC’s New 52 relaunch in 2011, these two gentlemen have delivered five years of perfection. Five years of brilliance in re-imagining and revisiting what Batman is to his city, to his fans, and to the character himself. Scroll through the 50 issues that precede this closing statement and everything you see is some of the best work anyone has ever done with the Dark Knight.

This issue as a whole is a love letter from the two creators to not only Batman, but to us as readers and lifetime fans. Bruce Wayne came back and was better than ever in Batman #50, reclaiming the cowl and taking down Mr. Bloom. In this book, we see the Caped Crusader patrolling a quiet city, investigating a power outage that turns out to be nothing more than a natural occurrence. Bruce visits some old faces just to be safe before discovering there is no foul play or impending attack on Gotham.

The tour includes Gordon, criminals contained in Arkham, the Court of Owls, and a trio of villains plotting something in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. This really serves as a highlight reel of Snyder and Capullo’s legacy over the 50 issues prior; while also tying up loose ends and setting up future drama for Gotham. Readers also get an explanation for why Alfred won’t be running around with just one hand.

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The “Gotham Is” column, writer-narrator device is a strong choice, allowing Snyder to speak almost directly to every reader picking up the book. The message is clear: this guy loves Batman as much as any of us and was honored to have been given the chance to write him with the kind of freedom he was allowed. There is an emotional weight to every page from beginning to end that really makes this sendoff mean something more than just another finale before DC relaunches their entire universe.

Capullo gives readers a great sendoff as well – and a bad-ass new Batmobile. This must be the easiest Batman book for Capullo to draw, as there’s a lot of empty space on these pages but not for any reason other than serving the story. What fills those empty black spaces are the reader’s emotions, knowing that this is the end of an era. That darkness also serves as a connection to how Batman himself feels on this rare, quiet night in Gotham City. The final page of Batman #51 will go down as one of the most memorable pages in Batman history, a perfect accent piece to accompany Snyder’s heartfelt thank you to Batman and his fans. The future of Batman in DC Rebirth is in the hands of exciting artists, but Capullo has set the standard for what fans should expect going forward.

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Emotions aside, there is nothing I could find about this issue that wasn’t exactly what it should have been. These two will likely work together again – it would be a travesty for them not to, and DC is in no position to change things that work. Their run on Batman is untouchable and will be remembered as one of the best eras for Batman comic books. As this issue serves as a thank you to Batman, Gotham, and all of us fans… let this review serve as a personal thank you to both Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

Rating 5

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