Batman #39 – Tom King, Writer; Joelle Jones, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Side-eyes Batman/Wonder Woman Flirtation: Just No.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Batman #39 is the second recent storyline pairing Batman with one of the Trinity as the entire DCU reacts to the BatCat engagement. This is a clever story with a surprising amount of humor, that puts Batman out of his element and introduces a fascinating new character to the DCU.
The issue opens with Wonder Woman arriving in Gotham and summoning Batman via the Bat-signal – something that Gordon reacts to in amusing fashion. But her reason for being there is more serious – apparently, Batman and Wonder Woman made a deal with a mysterious new hero named the Gentle Man once, that they would take his place in an endless battle he fights when he needs them, and he’s called in that marker. The battle is mystical in nature, so this leads to some great scenes of Batman awkwardly clumping around in a suit of armor and Catwoman making fun of him. The latter half of the issue, though, has some really powerful scenes.
It seems that the dimension the Gentle Man fights in has a different timeframe than the main one does, so while Batman and Wonder Woman are only gone hours in our time, they’re fighting for years from their perspective against an endless horde of reptilian monsters. Meanwhile, it’s up to Selina to show the Gentle Man – who has shed his armor and returned to Gotham after what was thousands of years to him – around the city, taking him to Batburger and helping him get up the courage to reunite with his wife. We’ve only seen bits and pieces of this guy, but he’s fascinating already. Bruce and Diana, meanwhile, in their endless fight together, develop a bond that is teased as something more, but we know King only believes in one Bat-pairing. It’s odd that this is the second story I can remember where a married or engaged superhero wound up trapped for countless years in a mystical battlefield, but this one works better than the Superman/WW one written by Joe Kelly years ago. Another great issue in King’s run.
Corrina: First, the opening sequence in Batman #39 with Gordon ticked off someone has used the Bat-signal without permission only to find out it was Wonder Woman, is terrific. Batman doing his sneaky entrance thing is the cherry on top. Also fun is Catwoman making fun of Bruce’s ridiculous armor. (Perhaps King is gently poking fun at his fellow artists on the Metal event.)
I read this once and thought it was not to my taste. But I read it again and I was less thrilled.
This entire storyline reminded me of the classic tale of how Wonder Woman and Superman were trapped in an eternal war for thousands of years, with Clark remaining faithful all the while, despite the temptation of Diana right beside him.
That we’d repeat that story with Batman and Wonder Woman seems unnecessary and once again basically reduces Wonder Woman to a romantic prop for a male hero. DC, we can do better for Wonder Woman, all right?
I did like Wonder Woman and Batman flirtation in the Justice League animated series but that was an organic clash of personality. This entire storyline seems to exist to create an unnecessary romantic triangle. (See above.)
Additionally, we have seen too little of Selina’s inner life throughout this engagement storyline and that continues this issue because it’s busy developing a possible thing with Bruce and Diana. I would have much preferred Selina accompany Diana to the eternal fight. That would have been something new with characters who’ve rarely spent time together and would have avoided the cliche romantic triangle. (Unless King remembers Selina is bisexual, I suppose, which no one seems to have remembered since Genevieve Valentine‘s run on the Catwoman series.)
King always writes at a high level and Jones’ art is eye-popping, as you can see from the panels above. But sometimes he chooses concepts that I truly dislike, such as “The War of Jokes and Riddles” and now this.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.