BATMAN #49

SUPERHEAVY: PART 9 – 6.5/10

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Scott Snyder continues to build the tension as we race ever closer to issue 50 on the current run of Batman. With Bat-Gordon out of action, the table is being set for an epic showdown between Bloom’s army of mutated ‘friends’ and the original Dark Knight himself. Of course there is the small matter of Bruce Wayne’s total amnesia that needs to be dealt with first. The solution to this conundrum is presented this month via the means of a handy deus ex machina device, a high-tech piece of equipment with Batman’s memories stored on it. Bruce had originally created the device to implant his memories on to a clone army… which sounds very much like something a super villain would do, but we’ll let that slide for now.

Alfred does his best to dissuade Bruce from using the machine, firstly because the memory implantation process could prove fatal, but also because if it succeeded the new life he had created, the new man he had become, would be erased. As Alfred eloquently puts it he would be playing the part of Joe Chill, effectively killing Bruce to create Batman. However the process is not immediately successful, in order for it to work Bruce must be taken past the brink of brain death. With Alfred unwilling to cross that line it falls on Julie Madison to press the button. Just as Alfred had said, there must always be a Joe Chill if there is to be a Batman and who better to play the role than his daughter? The process is a success and the true Batman emerges ready to reclaim his city.

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This issue leant heavily towards sci-fi, which has been a continued theme during the Snyder/Capullo run. Truthfully, I would have preferred a more mystical solution to the problem as that just feels more appropriate for Batman, but this certainly got the job done. The story was punctuated with brief looks inside of Bruce’s mind during the procedure, with temporary realities created and then crumbling as the implantation process failed to take effect. Guest artists, Yanick Paquette got to have a lot of fun with the artwork in these fantasy scenarios; showing Batman as a medieval knight, a police detective, a futuristic legionnaire, the mayor of Gotham, as the leader of a Bat-team of rogues and even giving us a glimpse of Thrillkiller Batman

The issue features a lot of poignant exchanges between Alfred and Bruce. Alfred quite literally begs Bruce to let someone else fight for Gotham, you can feel his anguish in those moments and the burden of the promise he made to protect a young orphaned child. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce has been something that Snyder has continually got right, and the embrace they share before Bruce steps into the machine is just as moving as Bruce’s final goodbye to Julie. Alfred has only ever wanted a happy, normal life for Bruce and he had tasted that life with Julie. But even without his memories, Bruce Wayne is still willing to sacrifice himself for Gotham. Batman is Bruce’s destiny, it always has been and it always will be.

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This wasn’t the most exciting issue, but it was a necessary one moving towards the showdown between Batman and Bloom. It will be interesting to see what the long term plans are for Bruce, is this a full ret-con or will there be some lingering effects of his time spent as New Bruce? We will also have to wait for issue 50 to see how successful the implantation has actually been, while it certainly seems like Batman emerged from the machine will his skills and reflexes return instantly? The 50th issue is going to be big, with Snyder promising a few surprise guests. Nightwing seems like a strong probability but let’s not forget that the Joker is still running around Gotham with a loaded gun. Whatever happens, Batman is back and Mr Bloom better be ready for a fight.

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POINTS OF INTEREST

  • It was very effective writing to have Bruce and Alfred refer to Old Bruce as an entirely separate entity, with Bruce repeatedly talking about him in third person.
  • Is this it for Julie Madison? With Bruce’s memories returned and their romance over it seems unlikely that she will remain an active part of the story.
  • It seems like Bruce is heading off to find Bloom immediately, but wouldn’t he have forgotten who bloom was? The process erased all his memories up to his fatal battle with the Joker.
  • I’d definitely like to see more of some of the alternate Batmen, particularly the futuristic, white tech-suit Batman.
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