We’re a few issues away from the big wedding with Batman #50, but there are still obstacles that are set to challenge the romance between the Bat and the Cat — whether it’s one man’s faithfulness to his one true love or the search for that perfect wedding dress, they’re explored in this latest volume of Tom King’s phenomenal Bat-run.
However, taking a step away from the central romance, the opening issue takes a look at the concept of Batman itself, specifically the tragic angle. When Bruce Wayne meets a young rich boy, who is currently suffering over the death of his parents, Batman investigates these murders as well as several others that follow a similar pattern. Drawn by Travis Moore, who can illustrate a well-crafted detective story, this story shows King is good at mirroring the similarities between the hero and his villains.
The previous volume included the two-part Superfriends story arc, which showcased the dynamic between the friendship between Batman and Superman (while never negating the importance of Catwoman) in what was the closest we’ll get to a Bat rom-com. Issues #39 and #40 returned to the Superfriends formula and spotlighted the Batman/Wonder Woman dynamic as the two characters joined forces to stand in for the Gentle Man, a warrior who has been battling a never-ending horde of monsters. And this is where the obstacle of one man’s faithfulness to his better-half comes in.
Along with Jordie Bellaire’s colors, Joëlle Jones’ art continues to look bright and distinct compared to what we usually see in Batman comics and certainly the presence of Diana Prince really does brighten things up, as displayed in a stunning splash page where Commissioner Gordon sets his eyes on the colorful Wonder Woman standing next to the Bat-Signal on a rainy day in Gotham. Although this isn’t as cutesy as the double date-night from the previous Superfriends arc, King works best when he’s writing more about character than plot as Batman and Wonder Woman see themselves as respected colleagues that could’ve been more so than that, while Selina pairs up with the Gentle Man, who wants nothing more than to be her true love, something that the former understands.
Speaking of Catwoman, she takes part in the action in the next arc where she and her husband-to-be fight against Poison Ivy, who seemingly has taken over the world, including the Justice League. It seems surprising that for a guy who has no superpowers, Batman always finds a way to take down his more powerful colleagues and, in this arc, some of the situations are a bit of a stretch, most notably the Cat taking down three Flashes. However, the hyper-realistic art by Mikel Janin is a sight to behold in how he illustrates a wide range of DC’s most iconic characters, specifically Poison Ivy, who is surrounded by the ever-growing green that is enhanced by June Chung’s colors.
In recent years, DC has tried to retcon the character of Pamela Isley from the videogame Arkham Knight to her issue in Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman. Despite her villainous history, Ivy sees herself an eco-warrior who believes her violent acts justifies her purpose of saving the planet and yet based on her brief appearance in The War of Jokes and Riddles, we see how she was wrongfully driven to this path. Although the resolution is rather corny, King sets up a nice reunion of the Gotham City Sirens, evoking a piece of DC history prior to the New 52.
I’ve commented before that DC Rebirth suffers from constantly looking back on the publisher’s history, instead of crafting new stories. However, there are a few exceptions and for the most part, this title succeeds as evident in the concluding issue featuring Selina’s pursuit for the perfect wedding dress (drawn by Joëlle Jones), while flashing back to the numerous interactions between the Bat and the Cat from the Golden Age to present day (drawn by Mikel Janin). As with the Rooftops arc and Annual #2, this issue celebrates the romance with great art featuring Jones’s beautifully designed wedding dress and Janin’s renditions of Selina’s numerous cat-themed costumes.
Although this isn’t as refreshing as the more character-driven arcs from the previous volume, Bride or Burglar is another fine addition for Tom King’s Batman, showcasing the great art team and storytelling that finds new shades in the history of the central romance.