SYNOPSIS: I'm so in love with the way this issue ends, and, as it always is with King at the helm, I can't wait for the next installment. For now, I'll leave you with the same closing I always use: BATMAN doesn't get any better than this.
When DC began its big "Rebirth" initiative, Jett kindly offered to take over reviews of BATMAN so that I could follow Scott Snyder to ALL-STAR BATMAN if I wanted to. But having reviewed Snyder's entire run from "The Black Mirror" onward, I was ready for a change... and I wanted someone else to enjoy the challenge of trying to find new ways to say "Snyder's awesome" every month.
The only thing I'd read by incoming writer Tom King was THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON, a title deeply steeped in the unforgiving and unpredictable world of the war in Iraq. King's experiences as an ex-CIA officer informed every primal panel, so I expected his Batman run to be equally grizzled and gritty. I was wrong. Now deep into its 30s, King's BATMAN has been a revelation from the beginning: heroic, heartfelt, and hopelessly romantic. It humanizes Bruce Wayne in a way that no writer has ever done before, but not in a way that ever compromises Batman's presence or power. King's unique way of tapping into Bruce's heart and Batman's soul has only made the Caped Crusader stronger in my eyes, and each new issue knocks me over in all the right ways.
Issue #36 continues the trend; this is one of the most charming comic books I've ever read. As Lois Lane urges Clark Kent to call Bruce Wayne to congratulate him on his big news, Selina Kyle urges Bruce Wayne to call Clark Kent to share his big news. Clark and Bruce, of course, are stubborn about it; the conversations play out as Lois and Clark follow a dangerous story in Metropolis while Catwoman and Batman pursue a serious mystery in Gotham City.
King and his art team of Clay Mann (pencils, inks), Seth Mann (inks), and Jordie Bellaire (colors) hit all the right notes here. We get to see Lois Lane being Lois Lane. We get to see Clark Kent being Clark and Superman. And the details are so great! I love Lois's messy desk, with its two phones, its yellow legal pad scrawled all over with notes, and piles of files that suggest so, so many Pulitzers in progress. The first page is one of the most handsomely drawn and colored Superman shots I've ever seen, with Mann making the action at Lois's desk feel just as palpable as Superman saving a train. The symmetry of their back-and-forth is incredible.
And just as Bellaire turns up the sun on the Superman and Lois scenes, she dials it all down for dusky hues for the Batman/Catwoman stuff. There's so much wonderful body language between both couples, and the dialogue is wonderful throughout: funny, emotional, and true to all four characters at every turn. Selina, for example, worries that Bruce hasn't introduced her to the Kents because he might be ashamed of her; Lois and Selina both wax about how transparent Clark's disguise is. But my favorite bits are how Clark and Bruce each feel that the other is the better man, and the deep respect between them is brilliantly, beautifully evident.
I'm so in love with the way this issue ends, and, as it always is with King at the helm, I can't wait for the next installment. For now, I'll leave you with the same closing I always use: BATMAN doesn't get any better than this. - John Bierly
John Bierly still can't believe he gets to write for BOF.
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