“Batman” #51 is the swan song of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s flawless Bat-run. Both writer and artist gift us with a quiet issue that encapsulates the magic behind why this has been one of the best monthly book for the last five years. They continue, up till the very end, to make this book uniquely their own.
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Greg Capullo
Batman has battled everything from the Court of Owls to Mr. Bloom to the Joker, but how does he handle a quiet night in Gotham City…?
Every issue of the dynamic duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Batman” has mixed deep emotion, heart, and intelligence to make a bombastic and wildly imaginative run. “Batman” #51 serves as their swan song and final farewell as they exit the world of the Caped Crusader (for now). Scott Snyder may be continuing his time with Bruce as “Rebirth” arises, yet the work he did with Capullo will be remembered as one of the best “Batman” tenures ever. Their final issue serves as the coda to one of the best comic book runs, period. The passion and love they have for Batman, Gotham City, and the book’s readers is palpable on every page of this final quiet issue.
For “Batman” #51, Snyder writes a powerful one-shot story to end a string of long epics. It ties into the very first issue and the entire run beautifully and movingly, proving why Batman is such a beloved character. Stripped of all the theatrics and trappings we come to expect from this hero, Snyder simply shows us a man who has a well-deserved “night off” from doom, despite his ever-vigilant mindset. Although villains may scheme and a city may be blanketed in the darkness of night, hope and devotion emanate to and from a man who loves his city and his friends. This is a tale of redemption for both a hero and the people he has vowed to protect. As Batman discovers yet again in this issue, even the seemingly hopeless of people can rise again to fight their demons.
Aptly titled ‘Gotham Is.’, Snyder and Capullo touch on the various qualities that make up Gotham City. From its rich history evoked in ‘The Court of Owls’ to the most recent ‘Superheavy’ arc, Snyder and Capullo have shown us a complex urban wonderland that is both frighteningly real and yet surprisingly comforting in its darkness. “Batman” #51 brilliantly expresses this sensible paradox and subtly reminds us of Snyder and Capullo’s consistent mission statement: to bring us into a world that is not only wondrously fun, but also relatable through its conflicts.
Snyder, in a very touching way, allows the city to write a love letter to its hero. The narrator’s story could be the voice of Snyder, Capullo, the tight-knit Bat-family, or even us readers who have taken this journey since the New 52 began. The touch of a great writer can be seen on each page as Snyder recaps Batman’s journey while whetting our appetite for more adventures that are clearly on the horizon. The final page emphasizes this future in one of the more stunning pieces by Capullo. Like the majority of his pages, it is a work of art fit for a museum.
Capullo puts so much of what made the creative marriage with Snyder so successful into “Batman” #51. There is humor, subtle facial expressions that betray emotions such as love and concern, and crowd-pleasing moments that do not require extra trimmings. He allows scenes to breathe, with this particular issue imbued with feelings that combine the epic and personal into his elegant panels and layouts. The interaction between Bruce and Alfred in the opening pages conveys visceral and fierce love between “father” and “son.” The panel with just Alfred’s eyes and the words within that panel bring a lump to the throat. Both men also playfully rib each other, expressing a comfort with one another that is moving in its complexity and sincerity.
Crowd-pleasing moments are also here in “Batman” #51, but expressed with less urgency than previous issues. We simply get to observe Batman in his element, whether confronting villains or gliding over the city. The mixture of darkness and pure fun is gleefully and slickly conveyed by both Capullo and inker Danny Miki. Both men allow for the dynamic nature of the characters and the darkened city to lie starkly naked before us. This is a superhero book that artistically portrays truth and provokes thought within the trappings of a superhero story. Whether it’s the Batmobile or the Bat-signal, Capullo and Miki lend truth and reassurance to the power of symbols that are essential parts of this iconic character’s being.Continued below
FCO Plascencia, who has been the colorist extraordinaire since the very first issue, uses a much darker palette than usual in “Batman” #51. Yet the hints of color, such as the new purple hue added to Batman’s cape, accentuate the light so inherent in Batman’s mission. Despite the darkness, Batman is a symbol of hope and inspiration. Plascencia contributes to the book’s complexity and beautifully mixes shadow and light to illuminating effect.
“Batman” #51 is a perfect finale to Snyder and Capullo’s first of hopefully many more runs with this character. It was heartbreaking, thrilling, mysterious, joyous, and many more adjectives too numerous to conjure in one review. This series was not only critically acclaimed, but it also touched many Bat-fanatics (like this reviewer) and readers who may have been new to the character. When a series can cause fierce devotion toward a writer and artist duo, then they must have succeeded in their artistic endeavor. Snyder and Capullo were not only a success, but cemented themselves in the hall of fame of Batman scribes.
Final Verdict: 10.0 – Hyperbolic language is deserving of this coda to an entire “Batman” run. Warning: it may cause your eyes to leak.