It was supposed to be the wedding of the century, the event that would change Batman’s life forever. Except, it became the event that would never come to pass. Batman and Catwoman’s monumental breakup in BATMAN #50 has become one of the most memorable and divisive comic book events of the year. However, despite its impact, BATMAN #51 is incredibly distinct from its predecessor.

Establishing a self-contained story, writer Tom King only refers to the repercussions of Batrimony’s collapse in subtle ways. The focus of the story is entirely on Bruce Wayne’s isolation in a period where he needs support. As a result, we witness a Bruce Wayne we haven’t seen lately: a man coming to terms with his purpose.

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BATMAN #51 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

 

Victor Fries v. The People Of Gotham City

The narrative of BATMAN #51 revolves around Bruce Wayne serving jury duty for the trial of Victor Fries, who has been charged with the murders of three women. As a result of his service, Bruce Wayne must be sequestered for the duration of the trial. As a result, he can no longer spend his nights fighting crime in the streets of Gotham City for the time being.

So, that is why BATMAN #51 presents a Bruce Wayne who is entirely lost. He has become separated from the major part of his identity. He must also experience an intense state of isolation during a time he does not necessarily want it. Throughout the issue, we witness Bruce’s struggles in connecting with those around him. He is constantly quiet around his fellow jurors. However, we do know that he wants company, even when he doesn’t exactly know how to express that need. We witness him call Dick Grayson, just to check in. Unfortunately, though, Dick doesn’t respond.

The Comic Book Event Of The Century Is Here In BATMAN #50

As the trial continues, Victor Fries is eventually put on the stand. He attests that he did indeed confess to committing the murders to Batman. However, he only did so because he feared for his life. Fries states that when Batman confronted him, he was a totally different man. Allegedly, Batman nearly beat Fries to death that night in a fit of rage.

So, when the jurors gather to decide on their verdict. All but Bruce Wayne affirm Fries to be guilty.

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BATMAN #51 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

 

Guilt is a Man’s Best Friend

After the overwhelming nature of BATMAN #50, it is nice to see King take a step back in BATMAN #51. The issue is certainly simple, yet it gives Bruce Wayne plenty to work with. He’s a man in pain, a man who is unsure how to express his pain without Batman as an outlet. Though when he does assume the role of Batman, he exemplifies a brutal method of justice, one that contradicts who Batman has always been.

Additionally, it appears as though the consequences of his pain have translated into his decision on Fries’ verdict. Perhaps Bruce feels responsible for Fries’ actions. Perhaps he feels responsible for many more of the things that have happened in Gotham City. Either way, Bruce Wayne is trying to understand Batman’s purpose, particularly when his role as Batman cost him his wedding. Thus, Bruce is trying to come to terms with his relentless pursuit of happiness.

Is Bruce Wayne destined for misery forever? Has Batman truly done any good for Gotham? These are the questions Bruce has come to ponder, and he isn’t even close to answering them.

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BATMAN #51 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

 

The Many Hues of BATMAN #51

Ordinarily, Lee Weeks’ art wouldn’t appeal to my taste. However, his execution works perfectly for this story. Firstly, it is a refreshing deviation from previous installments. Week’s style is vastly different from that of Mikel Janín’s. However, they both excel in their own unique ways.

For example, Weeks continuously sets Bruce Wayne apart from his surroundings in each and every panel. In some sequences, darkness shrouds Bruce Wayne. This ultimately parallels his own darkness that has overcome his psyche in addition to the darkness he feels during his period of solitude.

Other sequences portray Bruce existing in his own world. He doesn’t seem engaged in the trial or the conversations amongst his fellow jurors. Thus, the events of BATMAN #50 are haunting Bruce Wayne, and that is a tragic aspect that Weeks implements throughout this issue’s imagery.

A Retrospective on BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN

Now, my absolute favorite artistic moment in this issue is the one in which Bruce Wayne releases his bottled up emotions for a brief moment. At that moment, he rips a urinal off a wall and throws it as he lets out a great yell. Again, it is a brief moment, yet it is one in which Bruce Wayne is actually engaged in his world.

BATMAN #51 constantly depicts a numb Bruce Wayne within its art, a Bruce Wayne who doesn’t wish to engross himself in his reality. Because when he does engage with his reality, pain becomes his only companion.

What Lies Beyond

BATMAN #51 is what the series’ readers need right now. It doesn’t directly revisit the events of its predecessor nor does it remind us of what happened. Rather, it explores the consequences of those events in addition to the introduction of a new arc. Thus, BATMAN #51 is a fantastic issue that places Batman at his lowest point.

BATMAN #51 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
BATMAN #51 presents a solid, simple tale that sets the stage for a new era of the Bruce Wayne we thought we knew.
85 %
a satisfying palate cleanser
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