Subway Shorts – Batman 51

Tom King’s remake of 12 ANGRY MEN starring Bruce Wayne begins here!

Batman 51
Written by Tom King 
Pencils and Inks by Lee Weeks 
Colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser 

With all the hubbub over Batman’s attempt at marrying Catwoman dying down (for now), Tom King takes a break from the romance to take a look at the effects of being left at the altar (or the random rooftop, as it were) by putting Bruce Wayne in possibly the worst position possible. The richest man in Gotham City gets called for jury duty. And to make things worse, he’s selected. And to pile on, it’s a case involving Mr. Freeze, who is using Batman’s excessive force against him as his defense.

You’d think this would be open-and-shut, right? Freeze is a bad guy, Batman is Gotham’s protector. Just send the ice man back to Arkham Asylum and be done with it.

That’s exactly what 11 members of the jury want to do as they begin their deliberations. The foreman calls an informal vote and only one member of the jury is unsure of Freeze’s guilt: Bruce Wayne.

During the trial, Wayne started to recall what happened the night he nabbed Freeze, which came after Catwoman ditched him. Maybe he realizes he was a little too harsh on the criminal. Maybe the world’s greatest detective realized that he missed something because of his emotional state. I’m sure King will delve more into Bruce’s state of mind as the story continues, but this was a great kick-off point to what will surely be an emotional arc inside his overall story.

While Bruce is on jury duty, sequestered away from the manor and unable to put on the Bat-suit, he tasks Dick Grayson with being Batman for a few days. It’s always fun to see how different Bruce’s young ward is as Batman. And we get another great scene with Dick being called to the roof of police headquarters to speak with Commissioner Gordon. I love that Gordon knows instantly that it’s not the original he’s dealing with.

My favorite part of the issue, though, was the colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser, who frequently collaborates with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips on their books, most recently KILL OR BE KILLED. She compliments Weeks’ art perfectly and adds that sense of realism with her colors that enhances the story, just like it did with Kill Or Be Killed and THE FADE OUT before it.

This was easily one of my favorite issues of Tom King’s run so far, right up there with the double date issues with Lois and Clark. It has a lot of potential to be one of the best arcs he’s produced.