Review – BATMAN #53

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SYNOPSIS: The Eisner Award-nominated team of Tom King and Lee Weeks reexamine the relationship between hero and foe, as Batman relives not just that one violent night when he took down the King of Cold, but every time the two have come to blows.

In my review of issue #52, I wondered if Bruce Wayne’s appearance on a jury deciding the fate of Mr. Freeze was for justice or therapy.

As “Cold Days” concludes in BATMAN #53, we discover it was both.

Three dead women. A beating by Batman. A confession to the cops. Bruce’s fellow jurors have made their decision, but Bruce knows he messed this one up. As the lone holdout, he has earned their ire… but he’s also gotten their attention.

As the pages unfold, Bruce confesses his history and identity as Batman to 11 Gotham City citizens without their having the slightest inkling that it’s happening. Writer Tom King delivers this admission as a beautifully composed and tragically told rumination on religion; Bruce declares Batman his God with sincerity and nary a hint of sacrilege. But who saves the savior? Whatever form salvation takes in the aftermath of his failed wedding to Selina Kyle, we do get the answer by issue’s end…and it’s pretty awesome.

RELATED: BATMAN #52 Review

Given that Bruce is the only one in the room who actually knows what he’s talking about, Lee Weeks (pencils and inks) and Elizabeth Breiweiser (colors) effectively streamline Batman’s history emotionally and efficiently. Her clever use of specific colors in the villain montage is stunning; their use of shadow to create subterfuge and atmosphere is striking. From sprawling views of rooftops to the everyday intimacy of filling up a cup from a water cooler, every panel engages. (Especially the one with the clouds. You’ll know it when you see it.) Letterer Clayton Cowles earns high marks as always for making a wordy and weighty script a breeze to read.

We’ve seen Batman deal with loss so many times before, but this story is wholly original and genuinely unique. A big part of me still thinks an actual wedding would have been more challenging and interesting, but as long as the stories are as strong as this one, I’m all in. – John Bierly

GRADE: A+