BATMAN #33 & #34

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[ GROUP DISCOUNT
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to bear witness to the marriage of Tom King, the writer, to Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire, the two artists. Now if anyone can see any reason as to why these three people shouldn’t be joined together in holy matrimony, please speak now, or forever read the following adventure, published by DC Comics in November, 2017. You may now kiss my ass.

TO QUOTE Michel de Montaigne: 'A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband'. 

THE REVIEW:
By now, I’m sure many of you must know how last months episode finally ended: It ended with Selina Kyle accepting Bruce Wayne’s proposal for her hand in marriage. Surprising, I know, so can you guess how his family are going to react when Alfred tells them the news? 

Well, when the adventure begins, we are presented with a scene situated in Wayne Manor, depicting Jason, Dick, Duke, and Damian, biding their time by either talking, reading a good book, or playing with Ace the Bathound. Soon enough Alfred enters the room and tells them all about Bruce and Selina’s union, doing so by filling them in on when it occurred rather than why it occurred.

Obviously, most of ‘Bruce's children’ have their own suspicions about his proposal, especially Jason Todd, who kind of half blames Duke for not being able to curb Bruce’s behavior, what with him being his current sidekick-in-training. Dick, on the other hand, takes the news slightly better than the rest. So much so, in fact, that he quickly comforts Damien when he starts to break down and cry. 

No. He doesn’t cry because he’s upset about his Dad marrying a known thief. He’s crying because he knows what his Dad and Selina are presently up to. 

And what is that exactly? Well, just like Lawrence of Arabia, these two love birds have traveled to a very rustic part of the world, named Khadym, in order to confront someone the Justice League doesn’t want them to face, namely, Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s, mother of Damien, and the Dark Knights ex. The reason for them doing this is because... uuuhhh... I’m not sure if I should really say? After all, if I did that, I would definitely spoil the ending of this adventure. So, for the time being, let me tell you that Bruce and Selina begrudgingly spend a lot of their time defending themselves against Talia’s army of henchmen, all the while Dick and Damien travel to Khadym and bump into a certain Man of Steel. 

Yes. That’s right. I’m talking about Superman. But don’t worry, none of these three intend to kick the living crap out of each other. What they do instead is acknowledge why they’re there before parting ways. Which, funnily enough, brings us quite nicely onto what I thought about these two issues of Batman: issues 33 & 34! Here, check this out...

Reason One) TYING THE KNOT:   When I first heard the news that Bruce Wayne was going to marry Selina Kyle, one of the first things that popped into my head was what happened to their original golden age counterparts. Back in the 1970s, the Batman of Earth 2 married the Catwoman of Earth 2, and together they both retired, had a daughter, partly joined the JSA, before eventually dying under very dubious circumstances. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to their current day incarnations. Although, come to think of it, I doubt anything that drastic would ever befoul those two love birds. Batman and Catwoman are a popular brand name, and I’m sure DC won’t want to do anything to tarnish their legacies.

What do you think, though, dear reader? Are you happy to see them tying the knot or do you prefer them staying single?  Personally, I’m sitting on the fence with this one. As one part of me is really enjoying what Tom King is doing with their relationship, especially in terms of dynamics, while the other half doesn’t want to see their personalities changed or perverted for the shear hell of it. I mean, if Tom ever devised a scene where Catwoman and Batman went out shopping for groceries, in my eyes that would seem as bizarre as seeing them both perform in a porno! 

On second thoughts, that might be a pretty good idea, ha! 

Reason Two) A TALE OF TWO STORIES:   Structurally both of these episodes managed to convey two divergent plot threads. One plot was firmly focused on Bruce and Selina’s mysterious quest in Khadym, where as the other plot involved the individual reactions each male member of the Bat-family had towards Bruce’s marriage proposal. 

In terms of commonality, however, I’m happy to say that both of these stories shared a jovial spirit of adventure. A good example of this can be seen in a number of sequences where Bruce stands back and allows his better half to take charge of certain situations. In many ways it’s as though they’re both acting like an old married couple, going out and doing their own thing but only if she allows it. 

Hmm. I wonder if Bruce would ever make a good henpecked husband? 

Along similar lines I can also say the same thing about the reactions of Dick, Duke, Damian, and Jason. Seriously, everything they said and did was a right blast to read, ranging from Jason having a tough time with Ace, Duke putting Jason in his place, and of course, seeing Damien cry put a great big smile on my face

OK. Scrap that last one. I’m in a rhyming mood at the moment and couldn’t think of another word that ended with ‘ace’.

Anyway, as I was saying, both of these episodes were really enjoyable and fun, plus I particularly liked the larger scope of the ‘Khadym’ story-line, as opposed to the warmer feeling I got while reading ‘The Boys’ story-line.  On the whole I’d say Tom King has a really nice touch when it comes down to defining the interpersonal relationships between the characters, such as Dick and Damian‘s paternal bond, Jason and Dukes’ sibling rivalry, plus Bruce and Selina’s turbulent affection for each other. In fact, he’s so good at doing this, that...

Reason Three) CAMEO COUNSELLING:   ... he's pretty much crap at doing everything else. Well, with all due respect, my main problem with this multi-part story-line, is that it felt pretty hollow in terms of plot. Essentially Batman and Catwoman set out on an epic quest, while Bruce’s sidekicks try to come to terms with his engagement to Selina. Yep. It’s as simple as that, really, both of these issues summed up in a nutshell, and could easily be condensed into half a book at best.

Please, don’t get me wrong, as I’m not trying to say that I didn’t enjoy reading these two issues. It’s just that the adventure itself was pretty sparse in design and was superseded by the characterizations depicted throughout its telling.

Now, while I’m talking about the characters, as much as I liked the numerous cameo appearances featured in each episode, such as Superman and the Spyral agent, Tiger, unfortunately I never felt they added anything to the actual narrative, apart from justifying one scenario and insinuating another. Again, not a massive flaw, but a flaw nonetheless. 

Reason Four) I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU PEN AND PAPER:   All in all Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire did a pretty good job at providing the artwork for both of these episodes. Overall I’d say their illustrative style is very expressive and cartoonish by design, and what I liked about it the most, was how well they worked together when it came down to handling two different parts of the same adventure.

One of my personal favorites would have to be those sequences which depicted Khadym, saying so because I felt they both captured the regal majesty and vast landscapes this type of location normally exhibits. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about, because in the past I have visited places like Egypt and Morocco and seen first hand how spacious they truly are. Generally they would sport dusty environments or rustic abodes, chock full of intricately detailed bric-a-brac or literally nothing at all.

In the same breath I have to also applaud how Joelle and Jordie illustrated the expressions etched upon each of the characters faces. No word of a lie, every time someone spoke or omitted an emotion, like a smile, a frown, or a sigh, these two artists illustrated an appropriate response in a very clean and expressive manner. Great job, ladies! Please keep up the good work.

THE MUSIC:
While reading this story, a melody popped into my head which I thought would suit it to a tea. Thematically my musical choice would have to be something romantic, exotic, adventurous, and slightly Mediterranean with a touch of boyish charm. You know, something like the main theme tune heard in the 1962 classic, ‘Laurence of Arabia’. Here, check it out, courtesy of the BBC




THE COMPARISON:
Even in the best of circumstances, it’s never, ever, easy, meeting up with an ex, especially while you’re with your current partner. Some would say that it’s like sitting in between a rock and a hard place, whereas I would say it’s as confusing as the picture provided. 

An ex. I’m comparing these comics to an ex. 

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of issue 34, we finally find out why Bruce and Selina would want to track down Talia Al Ghul. So, out of the following eight scenarios, can you guess what's their main motivation? Could it be because...

  1. Bruce is secretly married to Talia and he requires a divorce before tying the knot again.
  2. Selina is desperate to know where Talia buys her swords and crop tops. 
  3. Talia has kidnapped James Gordon and they want to save him so he can be their best man.
  4. See the first answer for more details, but replace the phrase, ‘requires a divorce’, with the phrase, ‘wants to kill the bitch’.
  5. There’s nothing good on the TV and it gives them something to do. 
  6. Talia is safeguarding Selina’s old friend, Holly Robinson, and they need to get their hands on her so she can clear Selina’s name!  
  7. Bruce thinks he’s in with a chance of having a three-way.
  8. Seagulls.
Nuff said. 

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