BATMAN #35 & #36

The other day I noticed something very wrong with my girlfriend. Well, not wrong, per se, but different, bigger, wider, especially around the hips, and I say this because she can now fit into my wife’s clothing. Now if you want to know anything else about my wife, or women in general, please check out the following story created by Tom King, Joelle Jones, Clay Mann, and published by DC Comics in December, 2017.

TO QUOTE Erich Fromm: 'Immature love says, “I love you because I need you”. Whereas mature love says, “I need you because I love you”'.

At the end of last months episode, Talia Al Ghul was able to overpower her beloved Batman, before picking a fight with his bride to be, namely, Selina ‘Catwoman’ Kyle. So obviously during this months episode we get to see them both duke it out, one on one, complemented by the usual punching, kicking, scratching, talking, and parrying their way towards victory or even defeat. 

While this is going on, somewhere nearby both Damien and Dick patiently await for the final outcome of this battle, doing so by having a fairly flamboyant discussion about removing grass stains from their uniforms. 

Ha! I’m only kidding. In all seriousness, these two sidekicks bide their time by discussing Bruce’s motivations for wanting to marry Selina, coupled with the fact as to why their mentor wasn’t able to bring himself to tell them about his union. Eventually these two partly related scenarios come to a head, and, two weeks later, or in comic book terms, one episode later, results in Bruce meeting up with a certain Man of Steel.  

Not straight away, mind you, because first these two men have to figure out who should initially contact who! Besides, Doctor Double X is currently on the loose, and together, yet apart, they incrementally take him down, one step at a time, aided and abetted by their respective partners: Lois Lane for Superman, and Catwoman for the Dark Knight. And on that note, dear reader, for the sake of spoilers I don’t want to say any more about issues 35 and 36. That is, apart from divulging the following four points. Please enjoy...

Point One) TWO OF A KIND:   Over the last couple of months people have started to speculate as to why Bruce Wayne wants to marry Selina Kyle. Some say their union is nothing more than a scam set-up by DC Comics in order to boost sales, where as others imply that neither of them will ever make it to the church on time, simply for the sake of preserving their own hard boiled legacy's. As for me, however, well, I don’t agree with either of these two opinions. Although I do kind of agree with what Dick Grayson said, particularly those statements he calmly made in issue 35 of Batman.

You see, according to Dick, he believes that Bruce is a fairly lonely individual who wants to find true happiness in a world that has given him nothing but darkness and despair. Damien, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care about his Dad marrying someone other than his Mother. In fact, the only thing that he seems to be concerned with, is that he has to maintain being Robin while his Father has to maintain being Batman. Ironically enough, both Bruce and Selina appear to partly mirror Damien’s sentiment. Not tonally, of course, or practically for that matter, but spiritually they do come across as a mixed-matched couple who share a similar outlook towards adventure and justice. 

But what do you think, dear reader? Do you think their wedding is a sham or something we will definitely see in the near future? Also, where their motivations are concerned, who do you think is spot on about their reasons for wanting to tie the knot? Although, come to think of it, can anyone be truly right or wrong when it comes down to love, emotion, or a full on commitment towards the person of your dreams? I don’t think anyone can, not really, and to me that’s why I loved reading this issue so much.

In many ways it was more of a character driven piece than a full-on action adventure, and generally it seemed to favor dialogue over plot. Saying that, though, a good portion of this episode was dedicated to a lengthy battle between ‘Bruce’s two Women’, despite the fight in itself seeming more like an excuse, a narrative excuse, for people to express themselves about their own origins, or alternatively, what they thought about our newly appointed lovebirds. 

Point Two) MEN OF ZEAL:   Coincidentally I can say exactly the same thing about issue 36. In this case, however, rather than the focus being centered on Bruce’s relationship with Selina, the focus is centered on Bruce’s relationship with Clark Kent, otherwise known as Superman.

Now in some respects this narrative formula could seem rather repetitive, lazy even, keeping in mind that Tom just used it in the previously aforementioned episode. But no, not to me, not completely, anyway, as I found it very charming indeed, and acted as a reclassification of sorts. After all, since Rebirth it’s never been quite clear what the status is between these two heroes. Do they like each other? Do they hate each other? Or is their relationship a mutual one at best? Saying that while taking into account that Clark isn’t the same person he previously was when this reboot was first established. Now though, well, now we know precisely who they are: They’re two stubborn men who can’t pick up a telephone and make a simple call. 

Ha! Seriously though, I have a sneaking suspicion that we shouldn’t really take this story at face value, what with the two main female characters behaving a lot more mature than their two male counterparts -- Marge Simpson style. But having said all that, are we truly supposed to believe that Bat’s and Supe’s would replace their common courtesy and common sense with their own pride and their own egos? Now up to a point, yeah, I can partly believe that Bruce would behave in such a snarky manner, but as far as Clark is concerned, no, I can’t see him behaving this way, not one little bit.  Superman is the ultimate wholesome persona who puts people first, way before ego, and as much as I did like following the interactions with their female counterparts, in the same breath, this parallel nuance did seem slightly annoying at times, bordering on the ‘Women’s Lib’.

Yes. I do know that Selina is an expert thief and Lois is an award winning journalist, but let’s not forget that Bruce is a well trained detective and Clark has seen things none of us can ever remotely comprehend. So of course, picking up a phone and making a simple call must be like a walk in the park for them both!

BRUCE: ‘Hi, Clark, it’s me, Bruce. I just want you to know that I’m going to get married to Catwoman’.
CLARK: ‘Oh! That’s nice. Congratulations. Would you mind me telling Lois?’.
BRUCE: ‘No. You go ahead and tell her, and I’ll see you at the Watchtower later’.
CLARK: ‘Bye’. Click...

See, how hard was that?

Point Three) FUNNY:   Something else these two episodes have in common is a shared sense of humor which is really, really, funny. There are many examples of this scattered throughout each issue, ranging from Dick poking fun out of Damien‘s 'I am Robin' declaration, Bruce commenting on how many cucumber sandwiches Alfred has made, Talia’s appraisal of Selina being Bruce’s new partner, and lets not forget, the observation Catwoman made in regards to how Clark hides his secret identity.

Honestly, these humorous interactions really made these two issues stand out from the crowd, and in someway absolved them both for their lack of plot. I wonder what inspired Tom King to do this though? Add this satirical element! Is this just his way of commenting on his own work? Or did he watch an episode of The Simpsons and thought he would do the same thing here? Either way, I’m glad that he did, even though I’m not entirely sure if this was keeping in sink with each of the characters personalities. I mean, Bruce trying to be funny does seem a little bit far fetched, yet that’s not to say that he shouldn't try from time to time.

Point Four) HAND OF FATE:   If you’ve checked out my last couple of reviews, then you must know how much I really love the artwork provided by Joelle Jones and Clay Mann: Joelle for issue 35; and Clay for issue 36. In my opinion they both have a really expressive style that’s easy on the eye and even easier to follow. Plus, from a stylistic point of view, their bold illustrations reminds me of two other artists who’ve previously worked on the Teen Titans title, namely, Mike McKone and Khoi Pham, and I say this because they each share very similar attributes. This includes being able to draw very expressive characters, having the ability to compose well paced and well choreographed action scenes, plus they each seem to have a cartoonish quality that somehow manages to have one foot in reality.

Funnily enough, as I’m on the subject of appendages, did any of you notice the reference to an old battle between Batman and Ra's Al Ghul? If not, please allow me to explain. In issue 35 we saw Selina catching Talia’s sword between her two hands, before edging it back towards her and then kicking her in the face. Now, for those of you not in the know, this exact same sequence happened previously in a fight between Bruce and Ra’s. Although, in that instance, it was Bruce doing the catching and the kicking! Unfortunately I can’t seem to recollect the issue number where this event took place, but if you can think of it, please feel free to include it in the comment section below. Many thanks.

One of the central themes running throughout these two episodes focuses on the evolution of a previously established partnership. So with that said, how could I not musically match them up with the 1975 classic, ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’, as sung by War?

Continuing this train of thought, and I now have to compare these two books to the legendary double-act, Laurel and Hardy. They began their union with a pretty professional working relationship before it transformed into a full on friendship, especially when they went on tour together in the 1950s. 

Comparison made. 

At the end of issue 36, Bruce, Clark, Lois, and Selina, each decide to have one humongous gang-bang. Ha! Only joking. What they do instead is decide to go out and have dinner together. But where do you think they could go? Could they have lunch at...

  1. KFC: After all, it is finger licking good!
  2. A Sushi Restaurant: Well, Selina is a cat, and cats just love fish. 
  3. McDonalds: Let’s hope that the Hamburglar doesn’t show up and cause a ruckus!
  4. Pizza Hut: I wonder if they have a kryptonite topping?
  5. The Ritz: Bruce can pay.
  6. Noodle bar: Now who doesn’t like a noodle?
  7. Starbucks: Lois is a journalist, and as we all know, most journalists love drinking gallons of coffee. Both journalists and teachers. 
  8. A local all you can eat buffet: Clark can pay.
Nuff said. 

BATMAN #35 & #36 BATMAN #35 & #36 Reviewed by David Andrews on December 20, 2017 Rating: 5

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