By Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Yanick Paquette, Nathan Fairbrian, Steve Wands
Technically, Batman #49 is considered a side-story. You always know when Snyder is doing a side-story when Tynion IV is also credited as a writer. Capullo is also missing, using this time two work on the final issues of their run. Despite Tynion and a replacement artist, have no fear. This is easily one of the best issues of Snyder’s entire work on Batman. The issue picks up where #48 left off. Batman needs to get down to the cave, which Alfred very reluctantly allows him entrance. This is a powerful scene. Alfred gets down on his knees and begs him to leave the life of Batman behind, often calling him “my son.” You can call me sappy, but it’s always a little emotionally overwhelming when Alfred refers to Bruce as his kid.
In order for Bruce to become Batman, he must use some machine in the Batcave to revert his brain back to status quo. This machine has been seen in past Snyder Batman works such as Detective Comics #27 and Batman’s Futures End issue. The idea is that this machine can be used to imprint memories onto Bruce clones so that Batman can always be there when needed. The entire concept sounds a little goofy (these are superhero comics, people), but it happens to tie in nicely to Snyder’s overall theme of mortality and legacy.
We don’t want to get into too many spoilers, so let’s just say that things become predictable and go right back to status quo. Despite its trite nature, Snyder/Tynion IV have just enough tricks and writing ability to make it all feel fresh. While connected to the machine, Bruce has visions of all sorts of “what if” scenarios, including a bright and regal-looking Batman that has a friendly Joe Chill on his payroll. These glimpses are very interesting and it’s a shame that Snyder doesn’t appear to have any plans to explore them any further.
On the art side of things, Yanick Paquette fills in as the “fill-in artist.” Actually, that’s not accurate enough. Perhaps “fill-in genius” is a better description. Yanick Paquette is a phenomenal talent whose past work for DC is beyond words. Paquette is always great at yanking emotions out of the reader. The alternate Batmen each have their own style, some hopeful and bright, while others are more sci-fi and star-filled. It’s a callback to Batman’s past and is a prime example of how Batman is the most adaptable character in fiction. Throw him in any story and he can work. Paquette has always had a knack for telling stories that go beyond the written word.
Most comic fans are reading Batman. If you’re not, then I really don’t know what to tell you other than you are completely missing out of one of the best modern takes on the character. This issue is near the top of the list of best Snyder comics.