SYNOPSIS: “DREAM OF ME” part two! Batman is on a quest in the desert, far from his Gotham City home. His friends and allies think he’s gone crazy, and his mission puts him far outside the law. Waiting for him at the center of the chaos is an old enemy…and plenty of old demons.
Action! Adventure! Intrigue! Humor! Heart! Romance!
BATMAN #34 has all of these things in all kinds of combinations, as Tom King and the fabulous art team of Joëlle Jones (pencils and inks) and Jordie Bellaire (colors) deftly deliver part two of "Rules of Engagement."
Selina Kyle answered Bruce Wayne's marriage proposal in issue #32, and now they're on a journey through a blistering, sunbaked desert with danger at every turn. Once again, I know some of you are reading this in trades. If she said "Yes," do they need to settle something before they can move forward? If she said "No," is he taking her on a trip to change her mind?
Either way, they're in big trouble.
Issue #34 begins with pages upon pages of MAD MAX-level melee against a multitude of marauders, broken up by King's charming dialogue between Catwoman and Batman. (They love each other the most, and King delights in letting us know it.) Jones and Bellaire bring lots of energy and variety to the action, breaking it up with a handsome rendering of a member of the Justice League who warns Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne that they can't follow in their father's footsteps.
Because, you see, Bruce and Selina have penetrated one of the most forbidden places on the planet, where no man (super or otherwise) can enter. Dick's solution is beautiful, and it's exactly what Damian needs, with King smartly using the bookends of the Robin legacy to add yet another stellar layer of emotion to a story that's already bursting with it.
Back at ground zero, Batman and Catwoman stand bloodied and exhausted, but victorious. Until, of course, they find themselves face to face with another combatant -- Talia al Ghul. I've always felt it was a disservice to refer to her as the "Daughter of the Demon," and Tom King clearly agrees. The writer and his artists depict Talia as a devil in her own right, culminating in a chapter stop that made me say out loud, "No! Put that thing down!"
The climax also reveals what's behind Bat's and Cat's mission, and I kicked myself for not realizing it sooner. It's a seed that King planted a long time ago, and it's yet another reminder that even after 78 years, a Batman story can still be full of surprises.
King is writing this thing like his life depends on it, and Jones and Bellaire make every character look appropriately and impossibly awesome. I say it every issue, and I'll say it again: Batman doesn't get any better than this. - John Bierly
John Bierly still can't believe he gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.