DC closes out the New 52 era of Batman with the Epilogue collection, gathering the remaining one-off stories from the run.
The entry from the Futures End event sees a possible Batman from five years in the future, physically broken, risk his life to ensure the endurance of the Batman mythos. The Batman Annual features Bruce Wayne, still unencumbered of the Batman baggage, returning to Wayne Manor and facing down a threat to his family home. The final Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo issue sees a rejuvenated Batman take to the streets during a blackout, while contemplating what Gotham City means to its inhabitants. Batman takes on a bank robber after a crucial piece of Bruce Wayne’s past. And finally, the Batman Rebirth special tees up the character for his next phase.
As a collection, Epilogue isn’t cohesive, but that’s the nature of an odds and sods collection like this. The writing comes from some combination of Snyder and James Tynion IV (with contributions from Ray Fawkes and Tom King). While there’s no logical connective thread between these stories, taken individually, they can be quite enjoyable. The Futures End story is more or less a “what if” moment, but a contest of wills between Batman and Lex Luthor will always be worth reading. The final Snyder/Capullo issue will be a sentimental favorite for a lot of fans, providing a surprisingly optimistic coda to the often dark New 52 years. The Rebirth special, where Snyder smoothly hands the reins to King, isn’t plot-intensive, but does a nice job of piquing interest for King’s run. Throughout, the writers have a strong read on Batman/Bruce and his key supporting characters, so that even if there’s no unifying plot, readers are getting interesting character studies that explore different shadings of the venerable hero.
The art is all over the place. Capullo’s swan song is a decent capper to his time on the book. By the end, the artist has developed such a strong take on Batman that fans can only hope he returns to the character at some point. Mikel Janin produces some promising work on the Rebirth issue, turning out some impressive imagery that bodes well for the new era. Of the handful of other artists that contribute, Aco is probably the most memorable, his scratchy, paranoiac ethic a fairly strong fit for a dystopian Batman story.
Batman: Epilogue isn’t really essential and probably doesn’t make sense unless you’ve already consumed the rest of the New 52 run. For established fans, it’s a decent transitional collection between creative regimes.