Jury duty has come for Bruce Wayne, and the Gotham City philanthropist has never been one to skip out on public service. The trial is against one Victor Fries, aka Mister Freeze. He was arrested for the murder of three women and brought to justice in an uncharacteristically brutal fashion by the Batman. Can the Caped Crusader be objective and fair about this, or is this just a chance to make sure Victor gets his jail time?
As is to be expected, Batman #51 is in part the fallout of #50. Bruce Wayne is in a dark place once again, and it appears he took it out on Mister Freeze on a Gotham rooftop.
Tom King’s Batman stories often succeed best when they are relatively tight and small-scale stories about the Dark Knight. This qualifies as such. It’s Bruce dealing with an especially bad break-up and the mistakes he’s possibly made in this emotional state.
I use indecisive language here not to leave out spoilers but because the comic itself leaves it a little vague as to whether Batman essentially beat Victor into a murder confession. It is entirely possible that Victor is guilty, and this is an especially elaborate ploy on the part of Bruce. I deeply hope that is not the case. That would be extraordinarily dull. Give me the fallible man over the super-genius bat any day.
Lee Weeks gives this comic a gorgeous treatment. Weeks’ style leans towards the gritty and severe, and that fits this Batman story especially well. It serves the sequencing in the front half well too, where scenes of the fight are mixed in with the court proceedings to create an unnerving and disorganized sequence of events. Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is pale, faded, and, well, cold. Needless to say, it looks good and fits the comic’s tone near-perfectly.
Batman #51 brings me back to why I’ve grown to like King’s series. When it needs to get personal, emotional, and use misery for a purpose beyond misery itself, it’s a damn compelling book. I may not have liked #50, but #51 earns a recommendation with ease. Check it out.
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