Batman #50 review

This is the one we’ve been waiting for. The wedding of Batman and Catwoman. Would it take place, though? That’s the question that’s hung over Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle ever since they announced their engagement.

So far as I’m concerned, it was a big Why Not? I grew up with Earth 2 Batman and Catwoman having been happily hitched, and loved it. Didn’t these two deserve a bit of joy? And if they retired from heroics, well, they had daughter Helena, the Huntress, to carry on the superhero tradition. And it’s not like DC couldn’t just wipe away a marriage they later regretted with the next Crisis event.

As it happened, the suspense was ruined when DC spoilt their own book in a US newspaper last weekend. I managed to avoid the spoiler for at least a day, so by the time Batman #50 arrived, it was all a matter of details.

The good: this comic features guest art by some of the most amazing illustrators ever to have visited Gotham City. José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Lee Weeks, Neal Adams, Frank Miller… Eighteen of the 20 contributions are pin-ups featuring Batman and Catwoman, the other two pages feature stripwork.

As well as the bonus material, there’s the story of the wedding day itself, which sees Batman, after Catwoman helps out in a fracas with Kite Man, ask Selina to marry him that very morning, at dawn. She accepts, which means they have to find a judge and one witness each.

Selina grabs her protege Holly Robinson from Arkham Asylum, where she’s incarcerated over the small matter of murdering 237 terrorists.

Batman finds a judge in a bar, and he has a plan to ensure he doesn’t learn his secret identity – Bruce and Selina plan to get wed in traditional garb. On a rooftop.

As for who Bruce chooses as his witness…

That’s a perfect moment.

Writer Tom King and illustrator Mikel Janin, with colourist June Chung, produce some beautiful work. While I don’t like the ending – spoiler, Selina doesn’t go through with it after Holly muses that perhaps a happy Batman would be an ineffective Batman – I don’t think the romance is over. King has said he wants to stick around until #100, so it’s likely our star-crossed lovers will tarry, then marry.

It’s all good. What doesn’t work for me is the way the pin-ups are presented. Rather than lump them all together after the story, King threads them throughout the issue – a couple every few pages, linking them into a mini-tale. It’s Selina and Bruce meditating on how they met and fell in love. Mostly, it’s page after page of the happy couple describing, alternately, one another’s sooooo awesome eyes. And while it’s objectively good, if self-conscious, writing from King, it gets tedious very quickly, interrupting the real story; we get it, they’re in love – their planning to wed is a pretty decent hint.

All that text, as nicely as Clayton Cowles lays it out, doesn’t half get in the way of some truly wonderful art pieces.

In terms of the real story, there are just 17 pages, most of which are, admittedly, stunning. Just look at this spread.

This is a pretty decent comic. The characterisation of Bruce and Alfred is strong, though King drops the ball by having Selina cancel the wedding due to an argument she rejected when it was out to her by the Joker last issue. And the final page twist is simply unbelievable. But I’m still interested in Selina and Bruce’s story; so long as this series doesn’t give us a long run of mopey Batman, I’ll keep checking it out. For now, though, a picture to leave you with a smile. It’s just a shame about all that text.

12 thoughts on “Batman #50 review

  1. I was disappointed to hear they didn’t go through with it; what’s wrong with a happy Batman for once? Were DC thinking nobody would buy it on the off-chance he might . . . you know . . . smile once in a while?

    The status quo wins again, I suppose.

    By the way, those scene with Alfred you posted are spot on, from the “How romantic” line to the silent hug.

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  2. I was very disappointed. Tom King:s writing is simply stunning, in my opinion, but as you mentioned, the pinups just got in the way, and unlike you, I thought some of them were just awful. That:s subjective, though.

    I hate to see the art and flow of an artist like Janin interrupted like that. It just took me out of the story completely. As for the not going through with it part; I think it was a copout. A stunt by DC to try to get more readers, which really bugs me. I know they are a business, but maybe quality needs to come first sometimes. There is no reason Batman couldn’t marry her and two years from now get divorced. I mean, she is a pretty bad criminal, after all, and not that likely to completely change her ways.

    I was very let down by this, considering how amazing the previous episodes have been. Now, of course, Selina Kyle knows a lot of secrets about a lot of Superheroes she did not know before. I wonder how that will play out.

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  3. The marketing of this as a wedding issue doesn’t bug me a bit; I don’t think there’s a good way to market a story where someone gets jilted at the altar without giving that part away. Granted, DC managed to both market it as a wedding issue AND give the ending away, which takes a special kind of stupid. But the initial marketing seems fine with me. If we want surprises with our comics, well — some of those surprises will be unhappy ones.

    As for the pinups: Like you, Mart, I could have used a lot less text on them — particularly a lot less waxing rhapsodic about the other one’s eyes. (I’d have been happy to see more about how they each remember their first meeting, and maybe even some recalling of conversations with Alfred and Holly afterwards, a la Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally. But the eyes? Puh-leez.

    And the final twist? Two reactions:

    1) Even as someone who WASN’T spoiled by the New York Time (by virtue of being on vacation, not by some feat of willpower), I was glad to see something that HADN’T been spoiled.

    2) I buy it. As much as I can buy any other ridiculous bank-shot necessary for a super-villain to execute his master plan, I can buy Bane setting up all this stuff in order to break Batman. That’s his whole shtick, only this time he’s driving Batman to emotional exhaustion instead of physical exhaustion. It’s preposterous (and there are some parts that I want his orchestration spelled out), but I’m willing to believe — at least for the sake of another two years of comic books I expect to enjoy. If I don’t accept the premise, I’m out, so I’m giving Bane the benefit of the doubt.

    (I also didn’t think Catwoman dismissed the Joker’ argument at the end of 49; I thought she was laughing from exhaustion and as a stress release, but not necessarily because what he’s saying was preposterous.)

    As for if we’ll ever get a happy Batman? Briefly, I think. The kind of happiness Charlie Brown (no, not Kite-Man, the other one) feels when he knows he’s going to kick the football this time. I thought King was planning to tell a different story, one where Batman was married. But I don’t think being married to a compulsive thief is something that would make him happy for long, no matter her other good qualities. And THAT’s the story I wanted to see.

    We’ll see if I get it down the line.

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  4. Thanks for all the comments, I like your interpretation of Selina’s laugh last time, I was just taking it as hysterical relief!

    It’s a shame King didn’t address the differing memories, what’s that all about? Post-Crisis clashing continuities?

    Extra points for Peanuts refs!

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  5. Thanks, Mart!

    I should add that I’ve since talked to my retailer who told me some horror stories of some of the events his colleagues had spent money on — wedding cakes, cosplayers, etc. DC probably should have somehow subtly tried to put the brakes on that stuff — as it is, they’ve apparently made all spending on that sort of thing reimbursable through their advertising co-op program, which means that some stores will be getting a raft of DC Diamond credit in the near future.

    Also, retailers were expecting to be able to move “Batman wedding” back issues for a while, when that won’t be the case; 50 might wind up being returnable because of it. I hope so — DC got a HUGE publicity push out of this event, and it would be a shame if retailers were stuck paying for the brunt of it.

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