Batman #44 – Tom King, Writer; Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, Artists; June Chung, Jordie Bellaire, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Selina Steals a Wedding Dress
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Tom King takes a break from the big storylines and major crises to do a done-in-one issue in Batman #44, the lead-up to the big Batman/Catwoman wedding scheduled for Batman #50. And he’s got two of his best artists along for the ride, as this issue is split into two distinct parts. Mikel Janin does a series of gorgeous double-page spreads detailing the history of the Batman/Catwoman relationship from its earliest days, and King goes in some unexpected directions here. He seems to be going off and expanding on the Grant Morrison theory that every Batman story ever written actually happened, so Batman and Catwoman’s first meeting is heavily influenced by the Golden Age (thankfully, without the infamous “Papa Spank” line). The story chronicles Catwoman’s early days as an unrepentant thief, to her first hints of love for Batman, to her eventual reformation and the many ups and downs they’ve had since.
Joelle Jones, meanwhile, has a different kind of challenge. While Janin has to summarize a seventy-year character arc into a few spreads, Jones winds up telling a solo spotlight for Catwoman without any dialogue. This segment starts with Selina and Bruce together at night, only for Selina to sneak out in the silence for one of her trademark heists, using a depth charge to blow a hole in…a wedding boutique? That’s right, it’s dress-shopping, Catwoman style. I kind of would have liked Harley and Ivy to be here for this (and might those two have a wedding of their own to plan for soon, after the last issue? We can hope.), but King and Jones go for a minimalist approach as Selina puts her own spin on a dress and finds something that perfectly suits her and her distinctly non-committal approach to what side of the hero-villain divide she falls on. Jones does an amazing job of telling a story with only facial expressions, and the final scene between Selina and Alfred is a nice touch. As we build towards the wedding, this book continues to hit on all cylinders.
Corrina: It’s the art that is the star here, as Janin has so many gorgeous pages that I despair of ever being able to afford any of them, should he decide to sell them at cons. For a long-time Selina fan, the trip back through her history was interesting, especially his dizzying array of outfits. (It’s very good that Janin never goes full Balent during that period of her history.)
Jones, of course, kills in his silent segments.
And yet I remain discomforted by the portrayal of Selina. This is the first issue that we see from her point of view and she’s silent, for the most part. We see how the history of Bat/Cat has developed. But we still see little of Selina’s inner life and how she moved past her fear/opposition to commitment. Having read Selina for years, I’m not fully convinced that she would care at all about a big wedding and the right wedding dress but that would be a minor issue if I felt her character had been more fully realized. I hope that’s coming before Batman #50.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.