BATMAN #50

SUPERHEAVY: PART 10 -8/10.

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Many people have taken up the mantle of the bat over the years; Dick Grayson, Jean-Paul Valley, Terry McGinnis, and most recently Jim Gordon. However there is and only ever will be one Batman and his name is Bruce Wayne. There were those who considered it somewhat premature for Scott Snyder to bring Batman back in issue 50; perhaps this was another case of a publisher losing their nerve after killing-off an established hero to boost sales? But nothing could be further from the truth. The finale of Endgame was never intended to ‘kill-off’ Bruce Wayne instead it set both he and Gotham on a path of metamorphosis that concluded in the finale of Superheavy. Batman’s return isn’t a case of ‘same old, same old’; it is the dawning of a whole new era.

The battle for Gotham’s soul reached an explosive crescendo as Batman rose like the nocturnal phoenix to take back his city from Mr. Bloom. This was a landmark issue for the current run of Batman that also drew the Superheavy saga to a satisfying close. Say what you want about Jim Gordon’s time as Batman but he was just as dedicated to the city as Bruce Wayne ever was. Despite severe internal injuries, quite literally at the hands of Bloom, he still refuses to stop fighting. As Julia tries to get him to the hospital they are attacked by Luscious Precious on top of the police building, his body mutated by Bloom’s seeds. Gordon is unable to fight him off in his weakened state but is saved at the last moment by a fully healed and restored Batman.

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Batman races to confront Bloom, who is syphoning energy from his followers into the collider to create a new sun that could devour the city. Even worse, he has somehow managed to seize control of the Bat-Mech suits and is using them to attack anyone who would try to oppose him, including Batman. While Bruce and Gordon fight Bloom, Duke finds himself caught up in battle with Daryl miles above the ground in the Bat-Blimp. Daryl reveals to the young Robin-wannabe that not only has he taken one of Bloom’s seeds, it was him who created them in the first place. Bloom was one of Daryl’s experiments gone wrong and now he intends to rectify it, however the seed has twisted both his body and his mind and Duke is forced to pacify his friend.

Bruce seizes control of a giant Bat-Mech suit and he, Gordon and Duke launch a three-way assault on Zoom’s titan form. Batman is able to remove the super-seed from Bloom, destroying his ability to control his followers and rescuing Duke from the crashing blimp in the process. Inspired by the sight of their returned saviour, the people of Gotham proceed to remove Bloom’s seeds from their body which weakens him even further. Finally, in one last act of sacrifice, Gordon proves that he truly was worthy to wear the metallic cape and cowl when he sacrifices himself to save the city. He uses the Batmanium (worst name ever) to syphon the energy out of the collider and back into Bloom, destroying the monster and nearly killing himself in the process.

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Gordon wakes up in hospital, having been saved by his mech-suit and pulled out of the wreckage by Geri Powers. She informs him that she is closing down the Batman Programme for good and offers him his old job back as commissioner, naturally he accepts. The newly moustachioed Gordon isn’t the only one to receive a job proposition; Duke receives a visit from Bruce Wayne who offers him the role of Robin in a more permanent capacity. Batman pays one last visit to Gordon and the two old friends share an optimistic conversation about the city. He thanks Jim for keeping Gotham safe in his absence, Gordon feels bad about pulling him away from a life of contentment but Batman reassures him that that life was only a dream; he is and always will be Batman.

This really was a strong finish for the Superheavy storyline, everything paid off in a hugely satisfying way and it featured the perfect balance between Bruce, Gordon, Duke and Bloom. Snyder has managed to reinvent Batman once again, as this version of Bruce feels very different from any other version we have encountered since the launch of the New 52. The Dionesium healed his body, the memory transplant restored his mind, but putting on the Batsuit has restored his soul. He cracks jokes and fights with a renewed confidence and it will be interesting to see how Batman 2.0 develops in whatever Snyder has in store for us next. This was a hugely optimistic ending, with Bruce and Gordon drawing inspiration from the city that they have sworn to protect.

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Snyder is one of the best writers in the game today and the pairing of his vision with Greg Capullo’s artwork continues to pay dividends. Like many others the idea of Bat-Gordon was something that didn’t appeal to me as a concept, however I was forced to eat humble pie as the Superheavy storyline has been hugely enjoyable. In fact there were times when its only weak link was Bruce Wayne. Far from being a tacky gimmick, Gordon’s time in the armoured Batsuit added huge nuance to what was already a wonderfully textured character. It also played off of the fact that it takes more than one man to protect the city, but only one man can wear the mantle of the bat. So we have a new Batman, a new Robin and a new story ahead of us. Where do we go from here?

POINTS OF INTEREST

  • While this issue seemed to bid a solemn farewell to Julie Madison I doubt this will be the last we see of her. She shares far too much history with Bruce not to return at some point.
  • Duke has most definitely earned the title of Robin and it’s nice to see it all linked back to the Future’s end timeline.
  • Capullo’s Gordon looks an awful lot like Bryan Cranston towards the end of this issue. Maybe he agrees with the rest of us that Walter White would make a perfect Jim Gordon.
  • Am I the only one who desperately wants to see more of the resurrected Joke? Hopefully he will play a part in the upcoming storyline.
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