BATMAN #51 & #52

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[ FACE TO FACE WITH CASH
Whoever said, ‘It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all’, was either drunk, a git, or someone smart enough to have read the following story created by Tom King, Lee Weeks, and published by DC Comics. It’s August, 2018, and it’s time to see a bat cry.

TO QUOTE Norm Crosby: 'When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty'.

THE REVIEW:
For many, many, years, Batman has been fairly successful when it comes down to capturing criminals and sending them off to prison. Well, that is until a few days ago when his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, was asked to attend jury duty that’s connected to one of his most recent cases.  

You see, sometime back, Batman managed to capture Mister Freeze after he mysteriously killed three women. In doing so, however, he also started to realize that the validity of his own actions may have been hindered due to his sudden emotional split from Selina Kyle.

So with that in mind, we have to ask ourselves, what is Bruce going to do next? Will he try to defend Mister Freeze or will he go against him? After all, he's fully aware of each different side of the story: Batman's side, the Police's side, as well as the side of the accused! So all he has to do now is to connect the dots, see the bigger picture, and then convince his fellow jurors that Victor Freeze is completely innocent. Want to know more? Then please check out issues 51 and 52 of Batman today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) CASE DISMISSED:   Now if you think about it, dear reader, each genre of story possesses a number of positive and negative attributes. For instance, an action-adventure can sometimes be strong on thrills, spills, and chills, yet weak on plot, narration, and character development. Whereas something like a costumed melodrama, on the other hand, can be high in style and history yet low in variation and relatability. That said, however, there is one specific genre of story which seems to have it all! It can showcase drama. It can feature crime. Plus if we’re lucky, it can also possess action, pathos, horror, passion, and a nice warm personal touch!

Yes. That’s correct, my friend. I’m referring to a courtroom drama, which, in many ways, is one of my most favorite genres of story! Heck, even as a kid, I just loved watching crime based TV shows such as Matlock, Law and Order, Perry Mason, Ally McBeal, and Jake and the Fatman, to name but a few, simply because each and every one of them highlighted a story within a story that could be great one week and even better the next.

Well, let’s face it, apart from the comic book and sci-fi medium, what other sub-genre can feature multiple good guys, multiple bad guys, hope and despair, along with different people, different personalities, and a different way of looking at things, each and every week? After all, perspective is the key to all good murder mysteries and character-based adventures' -- which, come to think of it, is precisely what a courtroom drama is all about! It’s about stories, stories told by many different people, and how they can all join together to form an intricately detailed tapestry within a canvas both big and small. Sometimes certain courtroom dramas can be focused on illegal transactions, whereas at other times they can be based on a morality tale or a need to serve justice. Either way, a story is told, and more often than not it’s captivating, thought-provoking, and generally worthwhile.

Fortunately, this point brings me quite nicely onto the current multi-part story-line, entitled, ‘Cold Days’, which I must admit, is a really great multi-part story-line to read. The artwork was amazing, the story was simple to follow, and most importantly of them all...

Part Two) TRUTH OR DARE:   ...the basic narrative made us question who was in the right and who was in the wrong! I mean, should we applaud the jurors for blindly backing the Batman? (A man they each have good reason to trust!) Or should we defend Bruce Wayne for questioning his own motives? (Motives which may be hindered due to his current emotional state) Better yet, is there another way of looking at things, a third way, which would either justify or contradict each side of the story? 

Personally, I like to think there is a third way, touch wood, saying so because of something mentioned during issue 52. Well, at one point in their discussion, Bruce and the jurors started to talk about a slight, yet notable, time discrepancy, in regards to discovering how each of the three victims died. When the coroner initially examined their bodies, no, he found no dubious cause of death. But then, when Batman examined them, yes, he found something, and so did the coroner too, not so long thereafter. So with that in mind, we have to ask ourselves, isn’t it entirely possible that someone planted evidence to frame Freeze in between the first and second examinations? Someone who works in the Gotham City Police Department, perhaps? Or someone else, closer to home?

Come to think of it, isn’t it also entirely possible that Bruce is fully aware that he isn’t thinking properly, not totally, anyway, and that’s why he’s now questioning himself? He knows that there is something wrong with this case, he just can’t figure out what that actually is yet! But maybe next month, eh? Otherwise, Bruce is going to have to do something that, well, is better left to mention at a later date. 

See? Didn’t I say that this story was a fascinating read? As it’s one of those stories which is hard to predict and that is why it’s so, so, good! What do you think, dear reader? Did you like it? Did you hate it? And do you have any idea how it’s going to play out next month? Either way, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Bless.

Part Three) HE’S NOT WEAK, HE’S LEE WEEKS:   Now the first time I came across Lee Weeks’s artwork was when he was drawing a previous iteration of this series. No. Wait a minute. That isn’t quite right! Maybe it was another bat-book, like ‘Detective Comics’, for instance, or even ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’? Although, on second thoughts, I’m sure he also drew ‘Daredevil’ for Marvel as well! Anyway, whatever book it was, as soon as I saw his work I knew nigh on straight-away that he was going to be an unforgettable artist.

Ha! Sorry, folks. I couldn’t help myself with that silly joke. So if you can forgive me, let me start off by saying that I really love looking at Lee’s scratchy style of art, as I’m able to appreciate the atmospheric quality he brings to the table. Go on, check out some of the pages provided and you can see first hand how he bathes his visuals with a style that’s one part Film Noir, one part Art Deco, and one part Joe Kubert.

Yes. That’s right. I said Joe Kubert, the legendary artist behind such characters as Sergeant Rock and Hawkman, among others, before setting up an art school which Lee aptly attended. So yeah, some of that must have rubbed off on him, eh? Plus where the Art Deco and Film Noir styles are concerned, over the years these two have become very, very, popular, and it makes visual sense to include them to this breed of adventure. 

Well, let’s face facts. An adventure of this caliber requires a number of visual enhancements in order to make it work, both on an emotional and a visceral level. This includes expressive art for those character-based scenes, dynamic art for those action scenes, as well as atmospheric art for those scenes that seem to linger. Which, thankfully, Lee is able to draw and compose to the best of his ability!

Now a good example of this can be seen throughout both episodes, ranging from: (1) That scene where Bruce grabs a wash-basin and rips it off of the wall; (2) Those tepid, almost sterile sequences, that emotionally depict the jurors discussing the trial; (3) The numerous flashback scenes featuring Batman's fight with Freeze; And (4) Those elegantly composed splash pages which fracture the narrative and highlight Bruce’s interactions with each juror

Seriously, all in all, I'd say Lee has done a great job and I sincerely applaud his efforts. In fact, I’ve enjoyed his collaboration with Tom so much, I’d be genuinely sorry to see him leave when it’s over. In the meantime though, so far, so good, and please keep up the great work.

THE MUSIC:
In very simple terms this adventure is focused on two distinct topics: Perspective and being left out in the cold. So with that in mind, what better song can I musically match it up with than the Dean Martin classic, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’!




THE COMPARISON:
Have you ever watched the 1957 courtroom drama, ‘Twelve Angry Men’? If not, you should definitely check it out, as it’s about a group of jurors trying to figure out the validity of a crime they’ve been presented with. It was directed by Sidney Lumet, and stars Jack Klugman, Henry Fonda, and Lee J Cobb, among others. So go on, have a look, and then you can see why I’m comparing it to these two issues.




THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of issue 52, Bruce Wayne is left with no other choice but to prove to his fellow jurors that Batman is... what? What could it be?

  1. Left-handed?
  2. A Mexican?
  3. Incompetent?
  4. A Republican?
  5. A Radish?
  6. Noisy in bed?
  7. Smelly?
  8. A transvestite?
Nuff said. 

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