Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Bat's New Paramour

Batman #33-35 (DC, December 2017 to January 2018, $2.99)
I've been enjoying Tom King's writing in Batman, and these issues start the storyline "The Rules of Engagement," which opens up a new direction for Batman and Catwoman.

Drawn by Joelle Jones, #33 opens with the two traveling across a desert on horseback. The first five pages are very slowly paced and quietly presented, giving the new couple a brief moment of comfortable togetherness. The counterpoint scene in Wayne Manor is also quiet and homey—affectionate and joking before Alfred informs Damian, Jay, Thomas, and the others ("The mansion, like this family... is as large as it needs to be.") about Bruce Wayne's illegal mission to Khadym.

With the help of the tiger king of Kandahar and "a little girl," Batman gets past the guard in the desert appointed by the Justice League of America. Soon, he'll meet again the "daughter of the demon."

Following #33's slow pace and gentle unfolding, #34 offers an alternative approach. Batman and Catwoman face "a lot" of enemies, the silent soldiers of the pit, as well as a very angry ex-girlfriend. The three-page fight scene is clever and brisk. "The bounce of their jaws on my knuckles. It's off. They don't have tongues." After telling Talia al Ghul why they're there, Batman falls to her sword. She then faces the Bat's new paramour, the Cat.

While Damian waits outside for his parents with Richard, Talia meets Selina. Their conversation is more important than their combat, although that's cleverly presented, too. "As much as I want him to love me, I'll always be second to a child's idiotic fantasy." All in all, their journey to Khadym ends well.

I'm quite impressed by how lovingly and tenderly these three issues unfolded. King has a real affection for the characters, and they have a real affection for each other, as complicated as the world of Supermen and Misters Terrific might be.

Availability: These issues of Batman have yet to be collected. The most recent Tom King collection is Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles. And Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years collects some of the better Catwoman stories over the years.

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