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Batman is about to burst into movies once again in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Bruce Wayne is once again donning the cowl. Scott Snyder marches towards the end of his run on Batman with guest artist Yanick Paquette as Bruce goes through the process of restoring his memories. ComiConverse contributor, Sam McCoy, reviews Batman #49.
This issue begins with Alfred pleading with Bruce that there is nothing behind the clock in Wayne Manor. After Bruce tells Alfred that he knows he is Batman, the two head to the Batcave. Alfred is adamant that the machine that will restore Batman has been destroyed, but Bruce claims there must be a way to bring back his memories, and that the city needs Batman to stop Mr. Bloom. The computers in the cave begin to activate after hearing Bruce’s voice. Bruce initiates the Alfred Protocol, a complete backup of the memory archives which can restore Bruce’s memory. After activating the machine, Bruce’s fiancée Julie Madison makes her way down to the cave and tells Bruce that Gotham City is in trouble. Julie presses the button that completes the memory restoration and in the process eliminates the man that she loved. After Bruce’s body achieves brain death due to the restoration process Bruce rises and declares it is time to go to work.
Interspersed throughout the issue is a look at other possible Batmen who would have been created if Bruce’s plan for the machine, and the plan for him to always be Batman through cloning and programming, had failed.
Definitely one of the most interesting issues of the entire Scott Snyder run, as this felt very much as harkening back to the Grant Morrison era, in particular Batman 682 & 683 and 700 & 701. Those issues detailed how Darkseid was intending to use the mind of Batman as his ultimate weapon by placing it into the minds of his Parademon army during the events of Final Crisis. In the process, it is revealed that the mind and pain of Batman were too much for the parademons to endure and the clones destructed before ever being useful. Issues 700 and 701 detailed stories of the three Batmen from Morrison’s tenure on Batman (Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Damien). Also of interest with issues 700 and 701 is that they also helped to tell the tale of Bruce Wayne returning to his Batman persona after his apparent death at the hands of Darkseid and the Omega beam. This, in a way, parallels the other Batmen we see in this tale.
I’m not entirely sure that Final Crisis is in continuity, or what aspects of that Morrison run are present since the second volume of Batman Incorporated published in the New 52 had lots of contradictions with both old and new continuity. There is also the more recent DCYou initiative where continuity seems to be lax to put it lightly.
The idea of Bruce using this plan of Darkseid’s as a way to keep himself as Gotham’s protector forever is a fascinating notion. I always thought Darkseid’s plan of using Bruce’s mind to power his Parademons was a great Morrison idea and Snyder doing the reverse is very interesting as Darkseid and Batman have often been looked at as inverses of one another. This duality goes back to Cosmic Odyssey (and possibly before but I can’t remember a specific instance off the top of my head).
It was nice seeing Scott Snyder out of his comfort zone and doing what is easily his most mind bending and emotionally resonant work. The core story which only includes Bruce, Alfred and Julie Madison is particularly stellar in a sequence that is one continuous scene. Beginning outside the entrance to the Batcave, Alfred and Bruce must go on a journey down to the cave, an underworld of sorts, to recover the soul of Batman that resides in the computers of the Batcave. In a lot of ways, this comic reasserts the inevitable nature of Bruce being Batman and the central role the Batcave has always played in his transition into that persona.
As with any resurrection, a price must be paid. In this case, Bruce’s relationship with, and engagement to, Julie Madison is sacrificed. What is most interesting is that Julie understands that Batman is bigger and more important than the relationship that she and Bruce had and knows that he must return as Batman to save the city.
The weak link of the issue is the Elseworlds-style visions we see of other Batmans from different eras created by the machine. They are fabulously rendered but they all feel hollow and like they will never have much of an impact on the book in the future.
Like issue 44 earlier in the Superheavy story, Greg Capullo has a fill-in artist, this time Yanick Paquette who previously worked with Snyder on Swamp Thing during the New 52 launch. Paquette is fantastic and does a great job with everything he’s given. This is a dialogue driven issue and he makes every panel interesting. Conversely, the glimpses of the other Batmen allows Paquette some creative freedom to imagine different kinds of Batmen.
With only two issues left after this one, Scott Snyder is really building to what should be an exciting finish to his run Batman with Greg Capullo. This issue, while light on action, was necessary to bring a greater sense of loss and emotionality to the book. This addition is much needed if this installment is to achieve the success of previous story arcs in the run. With regards to the DC universe as a whole, its exciting to see Bruce return as Batman as most writer’s have had trouble writing the Gordon Robo-Bat. It will be nice to have this somewhat painful era in the other Bat-books come to an end.
Sam McCoy is a Contributor for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @realcactussam
After being out of the cowl for months Bruce Wayne returns to his rightful place as Batman in Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette’s great, mind-bending tale. With allusions to past and possible tales, this issue further provides the thesis that Bruce Wayne is the one and true Batman.