Batman #149: It's all change in an emotional issue that sets up a new status quo for the Caped Crusader

Art from Batman #149
(Image credit: DC)

In some ways Batman #149 - published yesterday by DC - feels like an epilogue to the entirety of writer Chip Zdarsky's run on the comic. Loose ends are tied up and a new status quo is established, one that promises a brighter future for the Dark Knight. 

At the same time it's a pleasingly small scale story, one that never loses sight of the unexpectedly human drama at its center. It's finally time for Bruce to confront the clone of himself created by Zur-En-Arrh, but rather than that taking the form of a grand battle, much of the issue is simply two versions of the same man talking - and it's wonderful. 

Pages from Batman #149

(Image credit: DC)

Spoilers for Batman #149 ahead

The issue opens two weeks after Batman's defeat of Failsafe. There's a new vigilante in Gotham - the evil Robin created by Zur-En-Arrh, a little older than when we last saw him, but still trying to bring brutal justice to the streets. Batman has been tracking him and finally confronts him - with some inevitability - in Crime Alley, quickly besting him. Bruce takes Clone Bruce back to the brownstone where he is quickly able to help clear his mind of Zur's programming. Unfortunately one thing is clear - the clone is aging fast. He was designed as a short-term solution to a problem and while he thinks and feels like a real human, he only has weeks to live.

As Batman tries in vain to save the life of the clone, he also starts to regain the memories he lost while under Zur's control. He uncovers one of his evil alter-ego's hidden lairs and, returning to Wayne Enterprises for the first time in a long time, he discovers that after several years running perilously low on cash, he is a billionaire once more. He hopes that he can use this money to save the clone Bruce's life, but it's clear that he is running out of time. Not only that, but the clone has had his right hand amputated and preserved - the implication being that the real Bruce may be able to have it grafted back on to replace the hand he lost back in Batman #134.

Pages from Batman #149

(Image credit: DC)

Bruce spends much of the next few weeks alone with the clone, keeping him company in his dying days. As he reaches the end, the clone expresses a need to visit Wayne Manor to see it with his own eyes, even if it does now belong to Vandal Savage. The two visit and take it all in with the clone saying finally, "It's a good life. A life of helping and being helped." He passes away peacefully with Bruce Wayne - his "father," enemy, and ultimately his friend - by his side.

In the wake of all this the real Bruce is reinvigorated with a new purpose. He sets out to put his money to good use by buying up a new home, the derelict Lohmuller Mansion. Bruce intends to renovate it and make it a home for the Bat-Family, renaming it Pennyworth Manor in honor of Alfred, while also burying the Clone Bruce in its grounds. 

As a further sign of his willingness to re-engage with his mission, Bruce also purchases the surrounding blocks with the intention of transforming them into affordable housing space for charitable organizations. "If there's one thing I've learned from being in the brownstone," he says at one point, "It's that we belong in the city, as a part of it."

Pages from Batman #149

(Image credit: DC)

It's a touching and hopeful end to the issue and one that feels very much like a clearing of the decks as Zdarsky perhaps nears the end of his time on Batman - he will at least be writing #150 and the issues that take part in the Absolute Power arc, but we don't know what the core book will look like from #153 onwards just yet. Or perhaps he's not going anywhere and this is simply setting up the next phase of what's been a fun, weird, challenging, at times frustrating, but always interesting run of comics.  

Most importantly it gives Bruce Wayne some hope once more. We know that big and likely traumatic events are on the way with Absolute Power looming but the Batman who will face them is no longer an isolated loner but someone with friends and family - he even gets a sweet reunion with Selina Kyle here, their first moment together since the end of the Gotham War. After spending the last few years fighting clones, evil backup personalities, and android versions of himself, Batman #149 leaves you with the sense that - finally - Bruce Wayne knows who he truly is once more.

Batman #149 is out now from DC.

Chip Zdarsky recently talked with us about his story in Absolute Power: Ground Zero.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.