Top Ten Highlights From The New 52’s Batman
After the Flashpoint story arc in 2011, DC did a total reboot of their entire line of comic books. The result? The New 52. This reboot completely altered the years of continuity that was built into DC's main universe - a decision that definitely left many comic fans with a bad taste in their mouths. However, the New 52 has allowed DC to breathe new life into their characters and put new spins on established heroes and villains. Starting over with a clean slate meant unlimited possibilities for the histories and futures of DC's most beloved characters.
One of the great success stories of the New 52 is undoubtedly Batman. While its titular character has been the star of multiple ongoing comic series such as Detective Comics and Batman Eternal, the 40 issues (plus 3 annuals) of The New 52's Batman that have been published so far have earned their place in the spotlight. Written by award winning author Scott Snyder, and pencilled by the masterful Greg Capullo, Batman has featured some of the most interesting storytelling and gripping illustrations that modern comics has to offer.
With each series beginning completely new story arcs after the Convergence event, there's no better time than now to remember some of the greatest moments featured in the adventures of the caped crusader over the last three years. Here's ten of the brightest highlights from the New 52's Batman.
10. Batman Teams Up With the Bad Guys
If the Batman should ever die, his enemies have a secret pact to shine the Bat-Signal upside down in order to alert the others that it is time to meet at Ace Chemicals to "mourn" his death. In the latest Batman arc, Endgame, Batman has to fight to save the city from one of Joker's most maniacal plans yet. Almost all of Gotham is infected with a new strain of Joker toxin that causes people to attack the objects of their affection before eventually succumbing to death. There's no way that Batman and his team can reach the Joker through so many "jokerized" people, so they shine the inverted Bat-Signal, drawing all of his enemies to one place. The Bat convinces the Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze that they must work together to do what must be done to save the city. After all, even the bad guys go out of business if Gotham perishes, right?
9. Bruce Before Batman
Who doesn't love to read stories about Bruce's adventures before Batman? The Zero Year: Secret City arc featured a closer look at Bruce's time away from Gotham, which included bringing down a cop killer in Rio De Janeiro, learning ways to escape seemingly impossible situations from a man named Sergio, and battling an endless hoard of fighters until no other warriors would dare step in the ring with the future Dark Knight.
8. The Introduction of Lincoln March
In the Court of Owls/City of Owls arc, Lincoln March is introduced as a mayoral candidate of Gotham. He then reveals that he was raised to believe Martha and Thomas Wayne were his parents, and that his real name is Thomas Wayne Jr. The story provides quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that this story is true, though some doubt still remains. The last time he is seen in the Batman series, he goes down fighting the Dark Knight. Though attempts to find the body were made, it was never found.
7. Mr. Freeze's New Secret Origins
Mr. Freeze was always a particularly sympathetic villain. He became a villain as a result of an accident that occurred while he was trying to put his terminally ill wife into cryo-stasis - an accident that also resulted in his wife's death. However, the Mr. Freeze of the New 52 is just a bit different. In the City of Owls arc, it is revealed that Victor Fries murdered his disabled mother during childhood, and that Nora, who was already in cryo-stasis, was not his real wife (even though he insisted she was). This new backstory is an interesting change-up and emphasizes the more psychotic, less sympathetic, side of Mr. Freeze.
6. The Riddler Takes Over Gotham
Mr. Freeze isn't the only villain in Batman's gallery of rogues whose backstory underwent major changes. In the New 52, Ed Nygma starts out as a strategist for Bruce Wayne's uncle, who was head of Wayne Enterprises while Bruce was away. When Bruce's uncle decides it's time to kill Nygma, he quickly discovers that the Riddler is always one step ahead. His last words to Nygma are that he is an "empty question mark": a nobody whom no one will remember. In the Zero-Year: Dark City arc, the Riddler disproves this notion by overtaking Gotham City and ultimately trying to murder its inhabitants. Of course, Batman saves the city in the nick of time, but not before solving some of the Riddler's greatest puzzles.
5. The Joker Ups His Game
What's Batman without his greatest foe? The Joker has been the main villain in two of the six main story arcs thus far in the New 52. In the Death of the Family arc, the Clown Prince of Crime puts new spins on the first "jokes" he ever played while wearing a mask made out of his former face (he had his face removed by the Dollmaker in the Detective Comics series). His final joke in the story is an attempt to kill all of the members of the Bat Family after first convincing Batman that he had cut off each of their faces, like his own. In the Endgame arc, the Joker returns with one of his greatest jokes yet. Using a liquid similar to those found in the Lazarus pits, he tries to convince Batman that he is an immortal enemy similar to Vandal Savage and Ra's al Ghul. In the end, the Dark Knight sees through the clown's charade, and the joke's on him.
4. The Revelation of a New Enemy
"Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time. Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them, or they'll send the Talon for your head!" Bruce Wayne grew up hearing that nursery rhyme, as did the rest of Gotham City. In the Court of Owls story arc, it is revealed that a young Bruce Wayne first thought that this mythical Court was responsible for his parents' death. However, he soon stopped believing in their existence - which is why it's such a surprise to him when they attempt to take over Gotham. The New 52 introduces this new enemy, made up of wealthy Gothamites who "rule Gotham from the shadows." The Talons - the Court's team of highly trained undead warriors - are their most fearsome assets. The Caped Crusader takes on these new foes in the very first story arc of The New 52's Batman.
3. Justice League Takedown
Who doesn't love a good throwdown between Batman and Superman? In the Endgame arc, Batman is faced with a situation that requires him to incapacitate certain members of the Justice League. While wearing his "Justice Buster" suit, Batman is forced to fight Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Superman. But there's a twist - these heroes have been infected with the Joker's new toxin, causing them to attack with no restraint. Batman takes them down one by one, using plans he set in place just in case he ever had to go up against any member of the League. This fight is undoubtedly one of the coolest moments yet of the Batman comic series.
2. Birth of the Batman
The Zero Year: Secret City arc is basically the New 52 equivalent of Frank Miller's famous Batman: Year One, as it puts a new spin on Batman's first year fighting crime in Gotham. Several of the most historic Batman moments are recreated in this arc, such as Bruce deciding to become Batman in his father's study or a certain member of the Red Hood Gang slipping into a pool of acid at Ace Chemicals. It also offers a good explanation as to why no one ever seems to accuse Bruce Wayne of being Batman. But don't think that the Secret City arc is just some cheap knock-off of Year One. Ultimately, it is a spectacular retelling of Batman's origins and his first experiences fighting crime.
1. The Death of Batman
Without doubt, the biggest moment of the New 52's Batman so far is the death of Bruce Wayne. Though comic book characters rarely ever stay dead, Batman died beside his greatest rival at the conclusion of the Endgame arc (the most recent issue to be published). Though killing off one of the most beloved superheroes of all time created quite the stir among fans, there could not be a more fitting end to the great tragedy that is the life of Batman.
So there you have it. Batman #41 hits shelves on June 10th, beginning a new arc after the death of Bruce Wayne. Now's a good time to start reading; though the upcoming issue may not feature its titular character, you can be sure you won't want to miss what Snyder and Capullo have in store next.