WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Batman #51.
Fans of Batman wondered how DC Comics could possibly follow-up the spectacle and excitement of Batman and Catwoman's wedding in Batman #50. Obviously, there was only one thing they could do to top that event - send Bruce Wayne off to serve jury duty!
Many people view a court summons to sit on a jury as a petty annoyance, given the need to remove one's self from their routine for at least a day while they are interviewed regarding their suitability to serve. This disruption can go on to last for several weeks, if one is assigned to the jury for a long-running trial. Nevertheless, the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers is one of the hallmarks of a modern society and serving as a juror is a responsibility that the civic-minded Bruce Wayne clearly takes seriously.
Despite the fact that one can plead ineligibility to a variety of factors, such as being too essential to their employer to be allowed to leave work for an extended period, we do not see Bruce Wayne attempting to use his position as CEO of a major company to get out of his responsibilities as an American citizen - much to the astonishment of his fellow jurists!
Though Batman #51 reveals nothing of Bruce Wayne's thoughts as the action of the issue unfolds, it's possible he didn't think there was a chance he would be selected to serve, given his reputation as a law-and-order minded philanthropist who lost his parents to violence.
Wayne is briefly questioned about his previous associations with Batman as part of the jury selection process - presumably a nod to the events of the Batman Incorporated series, in which Bruce Wayne revealed that he had been secretly financing Batman's activities for years before establishing a publicly-traded company to assist crime-fighters around the world. It is something of a shock then when Bruce Wayne is selected to serve on the jury trying the case of Mr. Freeze - one of Batman's most notorious enemies!
The trial which follows offers a fascinating look at how the legal system might function in a world with superheroes. Mr. Freeze's defense attorney, knowing that her client is unlikely to elicit much sympathy from the jury given his record as a known killer, focuses his case on the fact that all of the evidence connecting Mr. Freeze to the murders of which he is accused was gathered by Batman. Though police investigators later confirmed all of Batman's findings, the fact that Batman is not officially licensed by the Gotham City Police Department to perform autopsies or act as a CSI should throw all of that evidence into question, if not make it entirely inadmissible in a court of law.
It doesn't help matters that while Mr. Freeze made a full confession, this followed a beating at the hands of Batman. One oddity that arises is Mr. Freeze's insistence that the "Batman" who beat him into confessing was not the same one he had fought with so many times before.
While this makes little difference to the court or the rest of the jury, it is certainly a matter of great concern for Bruce Wayne, who now has to worry about an impostor Batman and the possibility that Mr. Freeze might be innocent of the crimes of which he's been accused.
Batman #51 is now available from DC Comics.
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