It's an end of an era for Batman comics. The dynamic duo that is writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have finally moved on from DC's flagship title.
Though Snyder will still be involved in the adventures of the Dark Knight in the coming months via the publisher's upcoming Batman: Rebirth and Detective Comics, it's simply never going to be the same.
That much is clear in Batman #52. Writer James Tynion IV has the unenviable task of following up Snyder's work with a one-shot issue before the series is taken over by Tom King, at which point, the Batman comic will revert back to issue #1. What Tynion IV and artist Riley Rossmo deliver here in this standalone story isn't terrible; it just feels way too on the nose from what fans of Snyder's run are accustomed to.
For example, everybody knows that Bruce Wayne became Batman as not only a way to avenge his parents, but also as a way to move on after their deaths. The persona and mission of Batman serves as an all-consuming distraction for the pain Bruce feels inside after watching his family gunned down.
Like I said, this is kind of universally-accepted. Batman is Bruce's therapy. In case that wasn't abundantly clear to you, Tynion IV drives the point home this issue time and time again. It's a tale of a young Bruce Wayne traveling the world, training to become Gotham's Caped Crusader. Early on in the issue, we see a conversation between Alfred and a therapist who has been working with Bruce to help him move on after the deaths of his parents. She advises him to list simple tasks in a journal and then accomplish those tasks as a means of helping Bruce realize he still has control of his life. Bruce, as he is known to do, takes this idea to the extreme.
From there, the issue is largely a training montage of a pre-Batman Bruce. It's nothing you haven't seen before, only this time, while Bruce is training as a ninja or skydiving in Yugoslavia, he is carrying a journal that explicitly says, "How to Move On" on the cover. The comic focuses in on the journal during each and every flashback.
It's about as subtle as a freight train. These flashbacks are broken up by a heist in the present day, in which a wall-phasing villain has stolen that same journal from Bruce Wayne's security box at a local bank. Why Bruce felt the need to lock up his journal at a local bank and not simply throw it in a drawer somewhere in Wayne Manor isn't really explained, but it does help the comic come together at the end with a heartfelt conversation between Bruce and Alfred.
Batman #52 is a weak end to an otherwise legendary run, but this isn't truly the finale. The real end of Snyder and Capullo's run came last issue and was nearly perfect in every way. This is simply a filler comic meant to hold fans over until the arrival of DC's Rebirth, and it shows.