Batman #36 – Tom King, Writer; Clay Mann, Artist; Seth Mann, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Corrina: Best Friends Should Talk.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: You never know what you’re going to get with King’s Batman. We’re coming off one of the most brutal, intense arcs of the series, followed by a desert adventure arc. And now we get in Batman #36…what’s essentially a romantic comedy involving the couples of Batman and Catwoman, and Superman and Lois Lane. Seems that Batman and Superman haven’t talked since the engagement – they both know, and Superman is happy for Batman, but neither one has picked up the phone and called the other, because they’re both stubborn idiots. The issue unfolds as a series of side-by-side conversations, as Superman and Lois Lane investigate a case involving a mysterious nuclear-powered supervillain, while Batman and Catwoman tackle different angles of the same case from a street-level perspective. The action segments are strong, showing the different ways Batman and Superman operate, and Clay Mann’s art is fantastic.
The plot is almost incidental, though, to what’s some of the best work involving the Batman & Superman friendship I’ve ever seen. The dialogue is fantastic, with Lois and Superman coming off as partners working a case together, and Lois’ prodding coming off less like nagging and more like persuading (this may be the best Lois I’ve seen in Rebirth). Meanwhile, King’s Batman and Catwoman are clearly the starring attraction of the series, and their partnership is still growing but it’s fascinating. Selina manages to get under Bruce’s defenses like no one I’ve ever seen. The issue builds to an emotional reveal of exactly what’s holding these two back – and then ends with a hilarious ending segment that promises a great next issue. Who knew King had such a handle on the lighter side of Batman? I’m hoping for a lot more issues like this.
Corrina: I prefer this more open Batman that King gave us glimpses of early on in his run with his tutelage of Gotham and Gotham Girl over the grim, driven and suicidal Dark Knight that appeared in later arcs. Perhaps we had to go through them to get here, though I could have done without the “War of Jokes and Riddles.”
As I noted over in the review of the DC Holiday Special, this is the second use of the split-screen narration for Batman this week except, in this case, it’s more of a four-way narration, as Selina and Lois definitely make their presence known.
But I’d rather leave the storytelling, good as it is, to talk about the art, which made me wish I could frame every page, from Clark’s encounter with the locomotive in the beginning (more powerful than a locomotive!) to the smaller touches like Clark’s fedora and the image of Lois and Clark in the sky in front of the Daily Planet symbol.
Meanwhile, Selina, as always, makes herself perfectly comfortable in Bruce’s home, as cats tend to do. It’s a nice personality motif, especially since cats tend to pick their people, rather than the other way around, and Selina had definitely picked Bruce, and she sees his true self. I had to laugh at her dismissal of Gordon “he doesn’t know who you are…” (Arguable but dead-on there.)
And, yes, this is an excellent Lois, a fully-rounded person who is also emotionally supportive of Clark.
The only niggle I have is that the setup falls under the cliche of women having to do the emotional work of relationships, even when this is truly between Clark and Bruce.
But I cannot wait for the four-way team-up next issue.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.