Batman #49 Review: Old Bruce In, New Bruce Out


“Superheavy” has ostensibly been about Jim Gordon as Batman, complete with his very own arch-enemy in Mr. Bloom. At the same time, if you didn’t think Bruce Wayne was returning sooner or later, you must be new to superhero comics, and his journey back from the new life he’d built for himself has been a constant undercurrent. In Batman #49, it takes center stage in an exploration of the sacrifices necessary to make Batman a reality.

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Scott Snyder gets some writing assistance from pal James Tynion IV for what is perhaps the quintessential Bruce and Alfred tale since the New 52 began, and perhaps one of the most thorough examinations ever of Alfred’s feelings for the man he helped raise. It’s a battle of conflicting emotions and motivations, one that asks if both men are willing to set aside things that make them happy for the sake of Gotham City.

That a third character plays an important part in the final resolution shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been a regular reader of Snyder’s run on the book, as he’s got a definite talent for making supporting players feel like they’ve been around forever. He’s also never been averse to giving readers unique framing devices, and the one he and Tynion cook up here is a doozy. I’ve never really wondered what Bruce Wayne might daydream about when his brain is near death, but thanks to Batman #49, I now know.

Those scenes provide Yanick Paquette the most opportunity to stretch his creative muscles, and it must have been fun to devise so many different Batman concepts. Where regular series penciller Greg Capullo has a knack for blurring the line between reality and dark fantasy in a way that leaves you uncertain at times about what’s real, Paquette does the opposite here, grounding the sequences between Bruce and Alfred in Wayne Manor and the cave and making the portions in Bruce’s head as fanciful as possible

The lone gripe for some could come from the way Batman #49 feels almost like it’s sitting outside the “Superheavy” arc as a whole. We’re told that Bloom and his creations are running rampant in Gotham, adding a sense of urgency to the decisions that need to be made. We don’t actually see any of the danger though, and the fate of the current Batman is referenced only in Bruce saying, “He may be dead.”

He sure might, but that’s an answer we’ll get in what’s sure to be an action-packed #50. It’s hard to say Batman #49 fits perfectly within the pacing of “Superheavy,” but it’s a testament to the creative team that it’s not easily skippable either. Everyone knew Bruce would be back, and yet the way it happens is still very much worth taking in.


Three Things to Ponder

  • Wouldn’t you like to see the writers and Paquette explore some of the alternate Batmen someday?
  • Does this issue resolve the idea that Batman is going to clone himself in the future? Because some fans will probably be happy with the way that is put to rest here.
  • There’s something eloquent to be said about how the “real” Bruce Wayne must always die for Batman to live, but it’s going to take a more talented writer than yours truly to put it into words.

Favorite Moment

Even though he’s not the same man he was before and is lacking most of his memories, even this Bruce knows one truth about Batman: he’s always got a contingency plan. Always.