Writer: Tom King/Artist: Lee Weeks/DC Comics
The time spent after a tough loss is typically spent focused inward. In Batman #52, Bruce Wayne takes that to a completely different level.
In the past two issues of Batman, which are part of a story arc entitled “Cold Days,” Bruce Wayne has been the lone voice of contention in a jury for Mr. Freeze’s murder trial. Coincidently—or maybe now— Batman played a major role in the investigation and arrest. While all of the evidence was clearly working against Freeze, the jury has mostly been convinced to send him away for a long time. (Or however long it takes for him to typically break out of prison.)
The conflict of this arc started out as Bruce wondering if there was a chance Batman may have gotten things wrong and eventually evolved into his examination of Batman’s existence as a system for justice. What was once an examination of the evidence became an examination of his own soul and intentions as if he were the one on trial.
A powerful moment comes when Bruce calls out the jury’s possible bias towards Batman by asking everyone whose life had been saved by the caped crusader to raise their hand. Everyone did, himself included. Add that to the evidence.
The rest of the issue sends him deep into his own life, even if his fellow jurors don’t know it, as he questions every single moment that’s led him up to this point. On the surface, he’s challenging all that is Batman. But it’s soon revealed that this entire introspective episode is a result of his tragic heartbreak.
Have you ever experienced painful rejection? I mean the kind that leaves you frozen in time, playing that moment and every one before it on a constant loop in your mind? That’s essentially what Bruce is going through, except with much higher stakes.
By its end, “Cold Days” was something completely different than expected. Which is refreshing, because Law & Order has always been predictable and Law & Order + Batman would probably be no exception.
Per usual with both comics and Tom King’s run, the best-landed punches are saved for the final pages. Those won’t be spoiled here, but it is a great segue into issue #54 where Batman pairs up with Dick Grayson again for some good nostalgia.
Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.
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