All kinds of bat-signals went off when the New York Times revealed the plot twist the Sunday before the issue’s publication on July 4. Most of the rage from fans was from the major happenings of issue No. 50 being online before fans could read it. But is anyone actually upset Batman and Catwoman did not get married? The bad bat-buzz briefly overshadowed what can be considered one of the best single issues DC has produced in its “rebirth” era of publishing.
Another indication things just were not meant to be came in the debut issue of Catwoman’s new ongoing series (written and illustrated by Joelle Jones), which was released last week on the same day as the wedding issue. The “Catwoman” cover featured a warning not to take in a single page unless the wedding issue had already been read or fans would risk spoilers — meaning the wedding plans probably went quite awry. Catwoman is one of DC’s most intense antihero personalities. It is hard to see her sharing her own series with Batman on every page because she tied the knot.
King used his first 50 issues of “Batman” to build upon one of the sexiest and most complicated on-again, off-again relationships in comics. He has also taken full advantage of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, including Bane, Poison Ivy, a buffer/meaner Riddler, and the Joker. But what has helped this series escape the long shadow of the earlier five-year “Batman” run of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo is that King dared Batman to take off his mask and have Bruce Wayne take a deep look at himself and ask whether he could ever truly be in love.
Perhaps the two most shocking aspects of issue No. 50 were that Bruce Wayne did indeed want to give love a shot, but Catwoman realizing that by marrying him, she’d be alleviating some of the pain necessary for Batman to exist.
Catwoman was the real hero in issue No. 50 because she knew she did not have it in her to end Batman, even though she loved Bruce Wayne. Or who knows? Maybe she loves Batman more and did not want Bruce Wayne only. The point is, she knew she could not go through with it, no matter how cool her dress looked (it was designed by Jones).
King had a chance to mend Batman’s heart with his keyboard. Heartbreak is what defines every aspect of Batman. The pain of the tragedy of losing his parents to a murder committed right in front of him has always been Batman’s unlimited fuel supply. When given the opportunity to bring some relief to that broken heart through matrimony, King instead decided to break it again — and that emotional blow made Batman even stronger.
Artist Mikel Janin provided stellar artwork, enhanced by frequent pinup illustrations that appeared every two pages by various artists at DC, including co-publisher Jim Lee, Jason Fabok, Mitch Gerads and Frank Miller. Janin’s pencils told the current story while the pinups served as beautifully illustrated backgrounds to the captioned words of letters Batman and Catwoman wrote to each other.
In those letters, King writes a Batman telling Catwoman he is willing to let love into his heart and a Catwoman who tells Batman why she realizes she could never let that happen.
The cat may have gotten out of the bag early, but even if you knew how this one was going to end, you still wanted to read it for yourself.
In two years, King has built a body of work that can stand beside the “The Court of Owls,” “Knightfall,” “A Lonely Place of Dying” and other Batman stories that have stood the test of time. He has got a lot storytelling road ahead of him and clear permission from DC Comics to take the Batmobile full-throttle if need be.
Leaving Batman stranded at the altar is just the beginning.