BATMAN #43 & #44

Knock-Knock! Who’s there? Ivy. Ivy who? Ivy good mind to pick-up the following two comic books created by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and published by DC Comics. It’s April, 2018, and it’s time for another double review.

TO QUOTE Lao Tzu: 'Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage'.

Within the last week, Poison Ivy has managed to use her plant-based powers to control, manipulate, and possess, every single living creature roaming around Gods green Earth. This includes heroes, villains, men, women, plus you’re regular everyday person that tries to mind their own business.

Although, to be fair, there is one notable exception! Or should I say; two notable exceptions? Those being the costumed vigilantes, Batman and Catwoman, who both smartly evade her grasp before coming up with a fairly cunning plan. A plan, I hasten to add, that involves Batman waking up Harley Quinn at the exact same moment Catwoman knocks out Ivy, Ka-Pow, with the hope that the former can talk some sense into the latter (if you catch my drift!) 

But can they do this? And if they can't, how will this affect our two lovebirds? After all, they’re both going to get married soon: The Bat and The Cat / The Vigilante and The Thief / The Bride and The Groom. Two closely linked individuals, one male, the other female, who’ve both evolved over the years, in temperament, in style, in personality, and in attitude. The thing is, though, when will their joint evolution eventually stop evolving? Would it be when they finally reach the altar or never in a million years? To find out, please pick up issues 43 and 44 of Batman today. But before you do that, here, check this out...

Part One) HARLEY AND IVY:   By and large I’d like to say that issue 43 of Batman was a pretty topsy-turvy affair. On the one hand, the artwork was amazing, the story-line was simple to follow, plus I particularly enjoyed how it was concluded in a fairly original fashion. That said, however, on the other hand, it never felt like a complete adventure, per se, because certain plot-points weren’t clearly defined and it came across like a sequel to a story-line I’ve never, ever, read.

No. I’m not alluding to that sequence where Ivy mentions her involvement with ‘The War of Jokes and Riddles’, because that particular plot-revelation was a nice little touch, up to a point, and kind of made sense, which is something you can’t really say about her motives for taking over the entire planet! Well, let’s face it; committing one crime to absolve another isn’t a done deal, especially when the crime you are currently committing is considerably worse than the first crime you allegedly committed. But then again, she is mad, stark raving mad, so I suppose on some level most of this can be explained away... ish.

Anyway, what I was initially referring to has to do with the number of scenarios this episode lined-up without revealing where they originally came from! For one thing, when did Pamela Isley and Harleen Quinzel first become lesbian lovers? Is this a new development or something that’s been alluded to somewhere else? I know for a fact that their sexual orientation hasn’t been featured in the pages of the Suicide Squad, that’s for sure, because on that book Harley has been pining over people like Rick Flag, Floyd Lawton, and of course, her beloved Mister J. And as for Pamela, on the other hand, well, she’s always been infatuated with Batman, hasn’t she? Either him or Doctor Jason Woodrue! Now though, well, now these two women have each other, in part, and in many ways, it kind of makes sense considering the amount of problems they’ve both had with the opposite sex, wink-wink! Insert outdated joke here! 

Something else that wasn’t properly defined would have to be how Pamela initially became so powerful! I know that I asked this question last month but I was hoping someone would be able to answer it for us this month! But no, nobody has. Not even the writer, Tom King, which in my eyes comes across as pretty bad storytelling because I was hoping that someone of his caliber would be able to tell a complete story that stood on its own two feet. But in this case, no, unfortunately not! The whole thing felt kind of flat and rushed as a concluding chapter, even though it did show some heart. 

Part Two) THE BAT AND THE CAT:   Now, talking about heart, all in all, I’d say Catwoman’s relationship with Batman has evolved quite a lot over the years, and this can be clearly seen in the way she’s been presented decade by decade. For example, during her first appearance in Batman #1, circa 1940, Selina was depicted as being a femme-fatale who smartly orchestrated her crimes by using a gaggle of clumsy henchmen. Two issues later, however, she decided to get a bit more hands-on with her chosen profession, doing so by committing these crimes herself, one on one, while sporting the first of her many outlandish costumes. 

Some of these costumes comprised her wearing a cape, a pair of gloves, and a facial mask, complemented by a color combination that ranged from red and yellow, green and red, purple and green, and grey and blue. Then years later she came up with a more streamlined close-fitting costume that focused on one specific color, like green, grey, black, and purple, etc-etc-etc. 

To coincide with her evolving style Selina’s attitude has also evolved as well. During her early years, she was presented as a fairly demure and aloof figure who somehow evolved into a manic and harder-edged thief that had a tendency to break character, people’s hearts, and the law. When that finally ran its course, though, she then came across as the person she is today: That being a very high spirited thief with a heart of gold.

Yet, having said all that, what issue 44 of Batman try’s to imply, quite cleverly I might add, is that, as characters in their own right, both Catwoman and Batman are the type of characters that constantly evolve so they can fit into the environment they currently inhabit! It’s in them, plain and simple, and they can’t help it no matter what they feel or do. Although, that’s not to say that they still don’t maintain a semblance of who they really are, deep inside! After all, the Cat will always be the Cat and the Bat will always be the Bat. But once meshed together, well, what will they be then? Will they still be the same person they’ve always been but with the added bonus of having a loved one by their side? And if this is the case, will their love change them in such a way that they can be both positively and negatively affected?

Either way, it looks like exciting times are ahead for the cast of Batman, and in a very subtle fashion, issue 44 alludes to this fact by presenting us with a fractured account of Catwoman’s history with her beloved beaux. An issue, I hasten to add, that was boldly illustrated, a pleasure to follow, and was told from a very unique perspective. Catwoman’s, while she’s stealing her custom-made wedding-dress. Lovely. 

Part Three) COLOR ME HAPPY:   I’ve been a fan of Mikel Janin’s artwork ever since I first saw his illustrations plastered onto a comic book page. Well, what’s not to like? Every time he puts pen to paper he always seems to come up with some beautiful stuff. So much so, that I can’t help but feel disappointed whenever he skips an issue. With all due respect, of course, because I wouldn’t want to offend any of the other artists assigned to draw this book, especially Joelle Jones, who does an exquisite job illustrating issue 44. But then again, I am what I am and so is Mikel, which is most probably why I appreciate his work on issue 43.

You see, from my point of view, the key to being a great artist all boils down to drive, ambition, skill, and knowing your own limitations. For a start, you have to be a dedicated person and practice your chosen craft, day in, day out, for as long as you can. But in so doing, you also have to acknowledge what you can do as well as what you can’t.

Case in point, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mikel Janin doesn’t like drawing peoples hairstyles. Not all the time, mind you; because he can draw hair and he’s quite good at it too. Yet, on the odd occasion, I have noticed that his approach to drawing hairstyles can seem somewhat muted and flat, and that’s probably why he overcomes this obstacle by passing the buck onto somebody else, namely, the colorist: June Chung

Now there are many examples of this featured throughout each issue, most notably when June magnificently constructs the shape of Poison Ivy’s hairstyle. Somehow she shapes it as if it were a flowing entity onto itself, shimmering about in the breeze like a shape-shifting puddle of red wine that moves in accordance with her emotional state. June’s pastel-colored shades have also been used to enhance the look of a scene, like Ivy’s new-age environment, for instance, or the sterile confines of Wayne Manor, each time managing to merge her muted color-palette into the background just enough to complement a sequence without being too distracting for the eye. 

Come to think of it, artists like Mikel and Joelle have also had a lot of help in producing their artwork from the very sandbox they’re both currently playing in.  After all, the Batman Universe is a very vast universe and has so many things on offer. This ranges from Ivy’s sentient plants, Gotham’s gothic abodes, Selina’s sexy attire, as well as a large array of characters that either wear tight-fitting clothing or free-flowing gown‘s. Out of curiosity, what do you think of Mikel and Joelle’s drawing ability and what do they draw the best? Batman? Catwoman? Action scenes? Those more intimate moments? Or something else entirely? Whatever the case, please let me know in the comment section below.

The first song I wanted to musically match-up with these two issues was a fairly obvious one. It was the Frankie Goes to Hollywood power-ballad, ‘The Power of Love’. But on second thoughts, no, sod that. That would be obvious, way too obvious! So why not Dick Shawn’s hippy themed jamboree, ‘Love Power’, as featured in the 1967 Mel Brooks comedy classic, ‘The  Producers’.

At the heart of these two episodes, we can blatantly see what it means to be in love with someone. So, if the cap fits, why not wear it? Hence, my reasons for comparing these two comic books to love

At the end of issue 44, Alfred catches Selina hiding something in her bedroom closet. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what that something is? Could it be...

  1. Her Leather Thong.
  2. Her Swag Bag.
  3. Her Collection Of Novelty... coff-coff... Toys.
  4. Her Ego.
  5. Her Long Lost Daughter.
  6. Her Custom Made Wedding Dress.
  7. Her Bullwhip.
  8. Her Pussy... Cat.
Nuff said.

BATMAN #43 & #44 BATMAN #43 & #44 Reviewed by David Andrews on April 19, 2018 Rating: 5

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