Batman #53 // Review
Through Bruce Wayne, author Tom King commits deicide in Batman #53, with the dismantling of “The Bat-God.” Concluding the trial of Mr. Freeze, the Lee Weeks-illustrated, Elizabeth Breitweiser-colored issue shows Bruce Wayne convincing the jury of Mr. Freeze’s innocence. The crux of his argument stems from the position that Batman is human, fallible, and had committed an error in his judgment of Freeze.
In an allegory framed around a person’s path to atheism, Bruce Wayne illuminates the jury on his loss of faith in the omniscient figure of Batman, and how they too should stop deifying Gotham’s protector, arguing that Batman is as mortal and imperfect as they are. Unbeknownst to the jury, Wayne’s soliloquy belies his existential crisis, which stemmed from Batman being left at the altar by Catwoman, and first manifested in his unchecked assault on Mr. Freeze.
A dialogue heavy issue, focused primarily around Wayne’s speech to the jury; the action shown is limited, with the artwork emphasizing Bruce’s emotional plea and the reactions of those witnessing it. Beyond pages focused on facial expressions, Weeks and Breitweiser’s exceptional work is demonstrated in shadowed panels showcasing Batman and other renowned Gotham figures in their natural nocturnal habitat, and most notably, in a pair of three-paneled pages showing Batman embattled with some of the most notorious members of his rogues gallery, in colorful yet muted shots reminiscent of the artistic stylings of classic Batman creator, Tim Sale.
Delving further into Bruce Wayne’s psyche, Batman #53 does a terrific job exploring what the symbol and moniker of Batman means to Bruce Wayne, why Wayne has devoted his life to embodying that figure, and how deeply he’s begun to question his actions and who he is following his recent emotional turmoil. In his continued deconstruction of Batman, Tom King brings the Dark Knight back to basics by the issue’s end, and paves the way for redefinition of the character in subsequent issues.