Review – Batman #54 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Artwork: Matt Wagner
Colours: Tomeu Morey, Brennan Wagner
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 5th September 2018

Nightwing stops by to check in on Batman following his breakup with Catwoman and they team up against some of his zanier foes in the process. We also take a look into the past of the dynamic duo when Dick was still a child taken in by a millionaire playboy.

Tom King continues his deconstruction of Batman following on from the trial of Mr Freeze, but this time it is Grayson’s turn to peel back some layers. In the last two issues we saw something very important, Bruce admitting he was wrong for letting his emotions take over when taking down a super villain. This issue we are treated to some flashbacks of young Dick Grayson and the lengths Bruce had to go to in order for him to open up to him and allow himself to feel and eventually heal. We now see a bit of a role reversal with Bruce trying to stay calm and focused while Dick does his best to make him smile – something which would be a real challenge at the best of times.

Since the beginning of Rebirth and Tom King’s involvement in the series we have borne witness to the a more humanised Dark Knight. That’s not to say he isn’t every bit as formidable, though. We have now watched a deeply flawed and hurt vigilante having his heart broken, beating a villain almost to death and then being forced to question his motivations and methods. If you get to the end of this issue and don’t feel a little pang in your heart even just for a second, I will be very surprised.

Matt Wagner takes over on pencils this issue and does a great job of presenting to us recognisable facsimiles of our main cast. The artwork reminds me a lot of the Batman animated series and does a good job of really bringing King’s words to life, whether that be Dick joking around or Batman dramatically posing mid fight.

Tomeu Morey and Brennan Wagner work wonders this issue  with the colours. The contrast between the night and day sequences, the past and present are presented as total opposites, the past bright and hopeful while the present day is shrouded in darkness. It really does feel that we are viewing the events through Batman’s eyes and feeling his emotional state of mind.

As ever it’s hard to fault King and his creative team as they continue to present to us a Batman who is not quite as infallible as we previously though. His portrayal of a person going through a tough time emotionally and having to push on with his life is something I think we can all appreciate and relate to. It brings the Bat into line with everyone else, and hell, if Batman is allowed to feel pain and make mistakes maybe its okay for the rest of us to do the same thing?

This issue is an easy recommendation for those invested in Batman and readers who want to see how far he has come as a character. It is about as perfect a story as anything you will ever read and its not just because of Batman, but also his supporting cast and how they are affected when he is going through emotional turmoil. This is easily one of the best books on the shelves today and this issue is one of the finest to date.

Rating: 5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato

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