Batman started a brand new story arc centered around Mr. Freeze. Unlike other Batman stories “Cold Days” is actually taking place after Batman has already captured Mr. Freeze and is now on trial with Bruce Wayne as part of the jury. Though this may seem to make it an easy open and shut case as Bruce knows everything about Mr. Freeze’s latest crime Batman #51 ended with Bruce questioning all the evidence presented during the trial. Now with Bruce putting himself against his alter ego there are a lot of questions created as to how things will go for Mr. Freeze moving forward in this trial. Let’s find with Batman #52.
Writer: Tom King
Art: Lee Weeks
Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In their meeting the jury go over how Batman found the cause of deaths linked to Mr. Freeze, captured the villain and Mr. Freeze signing a document that he killed the three women. Everyone asks Bruce if that is not enough for him to convict Mr. Freeze of his crimes. Bruce says it does not and asks for no more than two hours to go over the facts so everyone is on the same page. The rest of the jury agrees.
The jury first goes over how the three dead women’s body by means of cold. Bruce mentions that Commissioner Gordon the GCPD coroner team did not find anything in their initial report. He then goes on to say that it Batman discovered something that was missed a few hours later even though Gordon said his team were highly skilled. Bruce questions why GCPD’s coroner of experts missed something Batman easily found hours later and brings up how the body temperature wasn’t there when the initial report was done.
After a short break the jury then talk about how Batman found Mr. Freeze in his armor and gun, something he is not supposed to be seen using in his house arrest terms. Bruce says this is likely because Mr. Freeze felt like he had to defend himself. One of the jury calls bull on that as he believes an innocent man would not break the terms of his house arrest just to defend himself for something he didn’t do.
Bruce brings up how Batman has fought Mr. Freeze numerous times in order to help the GCPD arrest him. This ends up leaving Mr. Freeze with a deep fear of Batman. He then mentions how someone likely tipped Mr. Freeze with how all the evidence of the murder pointed to him and that Batman was coming after him. This along with his fear of Batman led Mr. Freeze to believe that Batman would not want to talk and had to defend himself somehow.
The jury question if Mr. Freeze was actually tipped off. Bruce states it is to big of a coincidence that right when Batman found Mr. Freeze that he was already in his armor ready fight.
They then talk about the confession and how Mr. Freeze signed the initial confession without Batman around and only said he wasn’t guilty several days later. Bruce mentions that it is odd for someone to spend days admitting he committed the murders only to change his story to how he didn’t do it.
Bruce then talks about his life, how his parents murder left him scared and that as he has gotten older he’s enjoyed the top with great friends and love but also has lost things during his time which reminded him of the scared ten year old. He admits that he is scared and would do anything to let go of that fear. He goes on to say that Mr. Freeze must of felt the same way after all the beatings he’s received as confessing was his only way to be protected from Batman.
The jury then question if Bruce wants them to believe that, with everything he said, Batman was wrong and isn’t the hero Gotham City thinks he is. They ask if Bruce can prove that. Bruce says he can. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #52 is a major change in focus of what fans have come to expect from a Batman comic. Though we still see Batman in action this is a Bruce Wayne story. After everything Bruce has been through this focus has opened the door for more question as to what the future of Batman will be.
With this issue Tom King does put into question if Bruce should continue on as Batman. Bruce is clearly shaken by his broken heart. Even if that is not something that Bruce will admit to himself or those around him, he is not the same guy that King started writing. Throughout Batman #52 King does a very good job showing this fact through Bruce’s dialogue. Each thing that Bruce says is carefully picked so Bruce does not actually talk about current state of mind after having his broken heart. Instead it is all implied, making the dialogue stronger as Bruce questions who Batman is.
What makes this analysis better is that Bruce is literally forced to question himself as he is holding Batman responsible for how the Mr. Freeze case is being handled. In doing so King is able to bring up questions as to how Batman’s methods can be questionable since he is not an official GCPD member. In Mr. Freeze’s case we see how that created an opening of a few hours where Batman came up with a different result than what the coroner’s reported. With how Bruce talked about the case it does bring into question how Batman’s method of doing things in shadows and waiting can cause these difference to be seen as an error.
This also led to how it is not always smart for Batman to go after who he figures out who was responsible without the GCPD around. That is the case that we see with Mr. Freeze as Batman confronted the villain without looking into the case further or consulting the GCPD. And with his current state of mind being one driven by rage it shows that Batman is even more dangerous when he has tunnel vision on a case he is working on.
What makes the way Bruce puts this all out there is the fact that he is arguing against a jury that does hold Batman on a pedestal. Batman has built up such great credibility with Gotham City that going against him is a tough uphill battle for Bruce to successfully argue right away. This pedestal that everyone holds Batman on makes how King had Bruce tear Batman down even more intriguing. It all led to a strong hook ending as we get more of a tease that Bruce is about to break who Batman is and how he is perceived in the public.
Lee Weeks once again delivers artwork that helps elevate King’s dialogue. Even with how dialogue heavy Batman #52 is Weeks is still able to standout with the emotion he brings out of every character in this issue. The tension inside the conference room was felt throughout Bruce’s argument. It was clear through Weeks’ artwork that everyone except Bruce wanted to end this trial by turning in their verdict so they can go home.
Weeks also does a good job giving a different aura to Batman. Weeks got across how aggressive and tunnel vision Batman is currently operating. The rage in Batman’s yes when he was beating the hell out of Mr. Freeze made you fearful for whoever gets in Batman’s way right now.
The Bad: As much as I enjoyed Batman #52 the heavy dialogue that is the issue’s strength is also its weakness. With how much Bruce and the rest of the jury talked it would’ve added to the issue if there were moments without any dialogue. With King giving Weeks several pages to draw Batman in action it would’ve added to the weight of the story if there was no dialogue in a few of these scenes. The dialogue with Bruce introduction to the rest of the jury specifically felt like filler material that could’ve been taken out and just let the artwork tell the story.
And with how we already saw Batman’s beating of Mr. Freeze we didn’t need to see that all again. It would’ve been much more effective we got a shot or two of Mr. Freeze in his holding cell. This way we could at seen who Bruce was arguing for as he was making the case for the villain being innocent.
Overall: Batman #52 is not a perfect issue. There are some minor problems that keep it from reaching that point. But even with those minor problems Tom King still tells a powerful story centered around Bruce Wayne tearing the idea of Batman down while Mr. Freeze is put on trial. It all helps to progress the fascinating narrative King is telling during his Batman run. Having Lee Weeks along to draw the Batman #42 helped elevate this Mr. Freeze story so that the strengths outshine any problems that briefly pop up.