Previously in BATMAN, Gotham City’s DA was in the process of prosecuting the notorious Mister Freeze for the murders of three women. Freezes’ confession, as well as the women’s manner of death, initially made it seem as though his conviction was a lock. However, one man on the jury surprised all when he declared that Victor Fries was in fact not guilty. That man was Bruce Wayne. Now, in BATMAN #52, the trial of Mister Freeze continues as Bruce Wayne attempts to prove Victor Fries’ innocence to a jury of his peers.

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BATMAN #52 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

A Plea For Innocence

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the jury does not react positively to Bruce Wayne’s, not guilty-vote. Despite that, Bruce reaffirms his case. When the Gotham City Police Department initially discovered the three women’s bodies, they did not notice the subzero temperatures of their bodies.

However, Batman did.

Thus, Bruce cannot understand how the police missed something Batman eventually discovered himself. So, Bruce deduces that the women did not die by the hand of Mister Freeze. Rather, he believes they died of clots while someone else tampered with the temperature of their bodies at a later time.

Mister Freeze Is Put On Trial In BATMAN #51

Unfortunately for Bruce though, his peers remain unconvinced. They believe Batman would never make a mistake in an investigation. To this, Bruce Wayne explodes. He’s disgusted by his peers’ belief in Batman’s “infallibility.” Bruce goes on to highlight some of Batman’s greatest faults, particularly his inclination towards violence.

Bruce believes that Freeze confessed to the murders because Batman was beating him to death, and as a result of the beating, Mister Freeze was willing to say anything to stop his torment. One of the highlights of BATMAN #52 is the distinction writer Tom King establishes between Batman and Bruce Wayne.

In this particular issue, Bruce Wayne expresses great disappointment in his alter ego. He is afraid that the loss he has recently experienced will change the nature of Batman forever. Thus, BATMAN #52 succeeds in the manner of its predecessor. It presents a complex deconstruction of Batman, one that will pave the way for the rest of King’s run.

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BATMAN #52 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of BATMAN #52

Once again, Lee Weeks hits it out of the park with his unique, artistic style. He establishes an intimate closeness throughout the issue’s panels. You can feel the claustrophobia of the juror’s room through the way Weeks closes his shots in on the characters’ faces. Through this method, you can feel the pressure they are experiencing in regard to the gravity of the case.

Now, the most powerful image of BATMAN #52 lies in the sequence that depicts Batman’s brutal beating of Mister Freeze. Though Batman’s face is mostly obscured, of course, Weeks still implements rage in his appearance. You can sense his exhaustion from the loss he has just experienced as well as the anger he is releasing deep from within.

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Ultimately though, the most powerful aspect of this sequence is the blood that slowly fills the page. Weeks portrays the escalation of violence in such a poignant way, capturing Batman’s total loss of self-control. Each subsequent panel depicts more and more blood that eventually obscures Batman’s face completely.

Batman becomes so engulfed by his anger that it ultimately blinds him from understanding the hero he is supposed to be. He loses sight of his limits, and it almost costs him Batman’s purpose as a whole.

Thus, this sequence is truly a gorgeous sight, abundant with detail that maintains a respect to King’s narrative.

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BATMAN #52 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

What Lies Beyond

BATMAN #52 is an intense, thrilling drama that challenges readers’ expectations once more. Bruce Wayne is not in the best state. However, he is arguably not as lost as Batman currently is.

Therefore, the state of Batman as a hero is in question. We do not know if and when Bruce Wayne will recover from the events of BATMAN #50. Thus, many changes lie ahead for The Dark Knight. The question is, how great will those changes be for a hero we thought we knew?

BATMAN #52 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Elizabeth Breitweiser
BATMAN #52 is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, one that maintains captivating drama, unexpected twists, and a new look at Batman himself.
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