Batman #52 Reveals Bruce’s Real Motivation For Being the Dark Knight

Thursday, 12 May 2016 - 7:08PM
DC Comics
Batman
Thursday, 12 May 2016 - 7:08PM
Batman #52 Reveals Bruce’s Real Motivation For Being the Dark Knight
The end of an era has been reached, as Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's final issue of Batman, issue #51, was just released last month before the penultimate #52, the final issue before Rebirth sends the title all the way back to #1 next month. Now, Batman #52, authored by James Tynion IV, has just been released, and as it's the final issue to come from the New 52 era, it delivers one of the best one-shot stories to take place in the main Batman title over the past five years.

Tynion takes the reader all the way back to Bruce's childhood, shortly after his parents were brutally murdered in Crime Alley. Dr. Leslie Thompkins arrives at the house at the request of Alfred, as she's evidently helping the young Master Wayne with his grieving process. While there, she discusses with him a list that she's instructed him to make - a list of the things that Bruce thinks he needs to do in order to get over the loss of his parents.

This list includes a number of things, things that often seemed solely there for Bruce to punish himself with. His training, the over the top daredevil antics he did to prepare for becoming Batman - it was all a part of his list.  

Meanwhile, in the present, Batman's in pursuit of a criminal that has constructed technology that allows him to phase through material objects, like walls and people. All the while Batman is pursuing him, certain things from Bruce's childhood list keep popping up in the panel, paralleling the situations he's in. For instance, #1 on the list is "disappear," and it takes place right when Batman does one of his disappearing tricks. Likewise, #33, "make them feel what I feel," pops up right when Batman nails the criminal with a huge gliding kick.  

After a while, it's revealed that what the criminal is after the entire time is a safety deposit box, one that belongs to Bruce Wayne. The rationale is that whatever is in the box must be Wayne's deep dark secret, something the criminal can profit off of. So what was in it, in the end? The list.

As the story wraps up, Alfred asks Bruce why he decided to keep the list after all these years. He replies, "Because of the final entry…Because of number fift-two." That entry was inserted by Alfred, and it says "Remember that your parents will always be proud of you." Bruce goes on to say that "You gave me something so much harder to strive for. Something I have to work on every night…and I'll never stop."  

Tynion's story was no doubt a great way to finish off Batman's New 52 run, as it was so deeply ingrained not only in Batman's origins, but also in what keeps him fighting in the present. Batman has often been perceived as a superhero that's stuck in the past, never able to get over what happened when he was child. While that is sort of acknowledged in this story, it's ultimately his childhood list - a list meant to help him get over his parent's death - that keeps him driving forward.    

The author's parallels with the list and Batman's physical actions were also really fun to read, and it was great to see that he and the artist, Riley Rossmo, were able to incorporate a few really cool, iconic, scenes into the mix, such as Batman calling for his Batmobile and casually jumping into the driver's seat as it speeds toward him from behind. Tynion's villain, the thief Crypsis, was also really interesting and well written; it would definitely be a disappointment if readers never get to see him appear again in the future. Of course, the fact that it was #52 on Bruce's childhood list that keeps fueling his fight against crime was also a really cool way to tie the narrative to the fact that this is indeed the final issue, issue #52, of Batman.

What really shows that Tynion gets the character, however, is his decision to make this an intimate story instead of just another story about Batman tracking down and fighting a villain. DC's heroes are indeed powerful, mythological, and almost god-like beings, and when readers see Batman step into the ring with one of his enemies, they almost always know who's going to win. The stakes are nearly always going to be too low if everything's always just about the fight. Tynion's decision to make this not so much about Batman's brawl as it was about Bruce's past shows that he knows how to write the character well.   

Tynion has done really well with other one-shots in the past, most memorably in Batman Annual #3, the one-shot story called Friends. With how well he did with this story as well, it really seems that one-shots could be a speciality for him. Currently, he's set to write Detective Comics starting with Rebirth, and he plans to incorporate much of Batman's supporting cast, and especially Batwoman. If his stories continue to be as well thought out and personal as this issue of Batman, however, then the next arc of Detective Comics will really be something worth reading.
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