By Cat Wyatt
Batman #52 has an interesting title, to put it lightly. You know something interesting or confusing it about to happen with a title like: Batman vs. Bruce Wayne. Obviously we have a pretty good idea of what will happen, based off the events of the last issue, but still…should be interesting.
To recap really quickly: Bruce Wayne is part of the jury in a trial for Mister Freeze. Mister Freeze has been accused of killing three women. It’s very important to note that Batman is the one that found the evidence indicating to the murder, and he’s also the one that brought Freeze in. He also beat the snot out of Freeze first. Seriously, it was a brutal beating.
That brings us to today. While the rest of the jurors are willing to consider Batman infallible and convict Freeze on the evidence given, Bruce Wayne is having second thoughts. And there’s very good reason for that.
The arguments for Freeze’s innocence don’t really cover upon the most obvious point: confessions that stem from torture are not accurate. End of story. While Batman didn’t technically torture Freeze, he did beat him horrifically, and that’s enough to lay question on anything Freeze said after that point. Fear of pain can make people say and do anything, and while it’s easy to forget, the truth of the matter is that Freeze is still a person.
There are some facts that Bruce Wayne is harping over, and frankly there’s reason for it. First there’s the question of the evidence that led Batman to go after Freeze. The reduced temperatures in the deceases women’s brains. The coroner didn’t find any evidence of that, while Batman did. Additionally Gordon says that this man is one of his best…so it doesn’t seem likely that he’d miss evidence like this.
Bruce posits that this means somebody altered the evidence (bodies) in the time between when the coroner finished and when Batman arrived. This sounds reasonable. The question is: why? Bruce believes that Freeze is getting set up, which is a fair theory.
There’s another theory he’s overlooking. Freeze could have been the one to do something to the bodies. While he may not have actually killed the women, there’s no reason we can’t theorize that he was still involved somehow. Perhaps he wanted to run an experiment – it’s well documented that Freeze will do just about anything for a chance to get his wife back, so experimenting on cadavers isn’t too far stretched. Yes, it’s still illegal, but it isn’t murder. But we’ll move on from that theory for now.
The second piece of evidence being used to convict Freeze is the fact that he was geared up when Batman went for him. According to his probation – yes, apparently supervillians get probationary rules – Freeze wasn’t allowed to touch or use anything of the sort. So by the mere act of getting gussied up he violated his parole. But again, that isn’t murder.
There are also a couple of potential reasons for him to be dressed so – reasons that wouldn’t necessarily indicate towards him killing those women. Option one: Freeze claims that he was tipped off about Batman coming after him. So him getting his weapons could be self defense – it’s not like Batman ever shows up just to chat, especially not when he’s in a mood.
Option two: he was wearing his suit and carrying his weapons because he was the one experimenting on the cadavers. Again, this theory wasn’t actually covered, but it proves that there’s actually quite a lot of room for reasonable doubt, which is the whole point of Wayne arguing right now.
The third evidence being used against Freeze is the confession itself. This comes the closest to covering the obvious fact we were discussing earlier. Freeze made a full confession to the police, while Batman wasn’t around. Is it reasonable to assume that his fear of Batman would extend so far? Given the extremes a person can be made to go to for the sake of fear, it actually holds up.
Look at Freeze’s past, for example. Everything he has ever done was not for Nora, but for himself. He’s too terrified to lose her, so he does everything in his power to keep her in her frozen state, in the vain hope of finding a cure for her. It all comes back to fear. Freeze seems like an emotionless android, but the fact of the matter is he is very much human, with human flaws and weaknesses. That’s what makes him so interesting.
So yes, it is absolutely reasonable to question the validity of his confession. Freeze’s fear very well could go past the bounds of Batman’s physical being, following him into the precinct and right into the interrogation room.
There’s also the chance that he’s using us all. He could have killed those women – again, he would literally do anything to get Nora back. He’s a brilliant man, and he would certainly be smart enough to realize he could potentially throw in room for reasonable doubt by trying to negate his confession. If the ploy worked it could even throw doubt on Batman’s actions - that alone would make this whole thing a success in his books.
The one problem with this theory is the fact that Freeze did confess to the crime, which just doesn’t seem like him. There are only two reasons he’d do this. One; he was afraid. Two; there was something to be gained from him doing this. Which one is more likely, given the circumstances?
This is one of those plots that really makes you sit down and think. There are so many potential reasons and reactions to everything going on that the truth has become almost perfectly obfuscated. We’re left grasping at crumbs. Even the great Bruce Wayne/Batman doesn’t know the truth.
And that’s the other brilliant move in this issue; Bruce Wayne has been forced to question his own past actions. There’s no point in denying it: Wayne was so blinded by his own emotions that he missed obvious and real concerns about this case. It resulted in him missing evidence, jumping to conclusions, and getting a man sent to trial before he truly concluded his investigation. In short, it was sloppy for, especially for Batman.