By Tom King, Lee Weeks, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Clayton Cowles
Batman #52 is the second issue in the the Cold Days arc. So far, this run is a beautiful homage to noir Batman stories like The Long Halloween, and Tom King’s script is right at home. Bruce Wayne is called to jury duty, and he’s the one vote stopping the case from coming to a close. Just about the entire issue is Bruce filibustering and his co-jurors arguing about Batman’s morality. That on it’s own is worth the entry price, but this issue would be worth the buy even without all that. Lee Weeks, Elizabeth Breitweiser, and Clayton Cowles play the hugely important role of setting the tone and atmosphere, and they do it well. Weeks’ eye for direction and reliance on shadows immediately pulls you into a gritty mindset. Colors from Elizabeth Breitweiser contrast those shadows, especially in backgrounds. When you feel the emotion on the page, it’s probably because of her colors.
Clayton Cowles’ lettering binds all of this together. Tom King’s word heavy script might be a hindrance to the visuals in some cases, but here it’s a perfect fit. Cowles breaks the words apart into balloons that follow the momentum of the art; he dodges in and out of spotlights and skirts through Gotham alongside Batman.
Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors follow right along with them. She uses a really selective palette that shifts tones subtly, but consistently. In a comic that takes place in Gotham, especially a noir Gotham book, it must be difficult as a colorist to shine through so many shadows, but Breitweiser makes it look easy. The most memorable pages of Batman #52 are black with one or two colors that electrify the scene. When she makes bold color statements, it’s clear, purposeful—and stunning.
Lee Weeks’ style is the perfect choice for Cold Days. He draws realistic figures, and absolutely black as night shadows and backgrounds when we see the city. Those elements combined establish an ominous tone that’s inescapable. His lines are thick, but varied, so each character looks a little rough around the edges. The nine panel grid works great with these. We see the wrinkles in a face and the nuance he puts into each expression.
Any Bat-fans who had qualms with Tom King’s Batman need to read this book. It’s a total change of pace from what critics might’ve disliked. Despite that, King stays true to himself by combining the classic noir elements with a plot that gets at the core Batman’s self-image. Throughout the entire issue, you’ll be jumping the fence over whether Bruce is right or wrong, making it exciting and dramatic in the best ways.
Batman #52 is exhilarating. The callback to older Batman stories is great for older readers, but the step away from wedding build up means it’s an opportunity for new readers, too. Every creator on this book is a rockstar. Buy this issue, buy the last issue, and buy every issue of Cold Days.
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