Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine’s Day Special #1 review

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Well, it turns out that there are quite a few Batman related stories going on in this DC Comics Valentine’s Day special. It’s a 50 page behemoth that costs eight bucks and features tales of romance starring Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Nightwing, Apollo, Batgirl, Batman, and Catwoman. Other than Batman and Catwoman and Superman and Wonder Woman it’s not the most obvious lineup in the world so there should be some fairly unique stories here, right? Well, let’s find out.

Batman & Catwoman

First up we have “Think it Through” by Ann Nocenti– F***!!!! Seriously? How? Never mind. Never mind, it could be good. Yes, every issue of Catwoman she’s done has been terrible and yes she ruined the character’s origin story in the worst way possible in Catwoman #0 but this should be a cute, fun little one-shot that she can handle fine. It probably wont’ even have any major impact on the New 52 continuity! …What? It’s the story of how Batman and Catwoman first met? That’s kind of an important moment, is DC sure they want to…they met for the first time on Valentine’s day? …Well I don’t see that… One of the first lines Batman says is “You’ve got huge spunk, that’s for sure.”


Okay, let’s start from the beginning. It’s Valentine’s Day and a heist has gone pear-shaped. Catwoman thinks back to another Valentine’s Day when things went horribly wrong, which happens to be her first encounter with Batman. Selina sees a pair of outrageously expensive boots in a store window and wants them. Rather than attempt to steal the boots, she goes out with a partner to steal some TVs out of the back of a truck. These TVs belong to struggling folk living in a housing project. Batman shows up and Catwoman kicks him and runs away. She returns to the scene of the crime like an idiot and Batman catches her…only he doesn’t turn her over to the police. Just like always he lets her go free. This is something that’s always been hard to understand but we’ve accepted it because there’s something special about Catwoman, right? Well THIS is the story where we’re supposed to see that something special. You can’t simply play the same old, “don’t do this again, Catwoman” troupe in their very first encounter. Catwoman needs to be such an incredible woman that Batman doesn’t have the heart to arrest her because that would cast her out of his life. Do you have any idea how profound that is? That Batman would not arrest a criminal? It’s insane! Bruce made a promise to his dead parents that he would bring down all criminals (pause) then when he met Catwoman and slapped an * at the end of that promise and said “Unless that criminal happens to be that woman right there!” No other character has that privilege. So Selina’s character has to be the smartest, sexiest, most interesting and mysterious woman that Batman has ever met and this mother****er has traveled the world. She needs to be someone he can’t quite understand and HE UNDERSTANDS EVERYTHING. She captivates Bruce Wayne in ways that no other woman ever has before. What we get here does not line up with that notion. Not at all.

Batman catches her and gives her a lecture on why it’s wrong to steal from poor people, especially if what you’re stealing is a television. Seriously, it’s a long guilt trip on just how important a TV is to a family. That’s the first tender moment between Batman and Catwoman in the New 52 universe! The Dark Knight also goes on to say “You’re good. You got strength, wit, fast-thinking, great skills.” ALL SHE DID WAS TAKE TELEVISIONS OFF THE BACK OF A TRUCK!  And now Batman is not only willing to let her go, but give her a pep talk that ends with him urging her to understand who the right people are to steal from and that if she cleans up her act, the two of them might even hook-up one day! Batman is…just—*breathes* Listen, I took a shit yesterday that could be adapted into a better love story than what Ann Nocenti delivered here today.

 Aquaman & Mera

Hard to believe there’s still so much book left. It’s even harder to believe that they would lead things off with that Catwoman story. After Ann Nocenti’s attempt at romance I was ready to cast this book aside but that would be unfair to the other artists who put in the hard work on their own short stories so I pressed on. Not only was the artwork on “Lighthouse” an improvement, but the writing was much better as well. It’s a sweet story about Mera finding some very old love letters in the lighthouse. We see excerpts from the letters of Felicity and Samuel and they serve as narration for various flashbacks. It works well enough but it doesn’t make any sense why we would be able to see Felicity’s letters to Samuel since they were sent to Sam and he was lost at sea. Ignoring that, it’s a pretty romantic story starring young people and fits in this book rather well. It also mirrors what’s happening between Aquaman and Mera toward the end of the story when Aquaman fears he’s lost his wife in a tempest. After reading this short story I was back on board and ready for more.


“Dreamer” is probably the ugliest I’ve seen Batgirl drawn in years. For crying out loud, her eyes are gazing in two different directions in the very first close-up shot. Later in the issue,there are two panels in which her hair vanishes completely. He entire head looks odd in this episode, really. But anyway, as for the story… it’s kind of weird. Remember Ricky? The kid who lost his foot and Batgirl kissed him in the Annual Issue so it wouldn’t look like Ricky was a snitch (I don’t know how the logic of that would possibly work, but whatever)? He’s back again… for whatever reason. Even though a story about Barbara and Dick Grayson working together on Valentine’s Day and having to deal with their sexual tension would’ve been a far more interesting and fun story and an obviously more marketable tale from a business standpoint THIS is what we’re doing. Ray Fawkes is writing this issue, not Gail Simone, and while he’s got the voice for Batgirl down alright (minus the copious thought boxes) I really wish he had cooked up a better premise than “That footless hoodlum wants another kiss from Batgirl, but she’s all like ‘nuh-uh’, but then she’s like ‘okay’ but then she leaves anyway.” And wasn’t Ricky supposed to only be like 15 or 16 years old? Having these two make-out seems kind of weird.  So we’re 0/2 on the Bat-romance stories so far.

Apollo & Midnighter

I have no idea who the heck these two are so I didn’t get very invested in this story. It also felt like one of the shortest pieces of the book, but that’s probably because it had the most action. Midnighter is actually out doing something when he’s confronted by Apollo. It’s a gay romance story only there’s not any romance. At all. One guy comes up to another guy and says “Hey”

And the other guy says “Stop following me, I don’t want to date.”

And then the first guy goes “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Then the final page says reads: The End…or is it?

Like I’m supposed to care. Maybe if I read Stormwatch this would’ve been a more meaningful confrontation, but it was a real non-event in this book. Stylish artwork though, I liked the charcoal-look of the line work.

 Nightwing & Ursa Minor

Who is Ursa Minor? I Don’t know. She seems to be a brand new character, a mercenary of some sort. She’s actually only called “Ursa” in the story except for one moment when Nightwing refers to her as “Ursa Major” but I assume that that’s his mistake. This story is written by Nightwing’s usual writer, Kyle Higgins, and it lifted my spirits back up after a row of disappointing stories. Nightwing is out on patrol and can’t make it to his Valentine’s Day date when suddenly he meets a new girl who has a similar night time hobby. The two hit it off and decide to have a Valentine’s dinner of their own atop the roofs of Gotham City. The artwork was just as playful as the story and we even get to see that masked Whisper gang from issue #3 of Batman. It was cool to see those guys referenced again and it shows how tightly Higgins’ Nightwing connects to the goings-on of Snyder’s Batman. Those two books very much feel like they’re part of the same world. “Another Saturday Night” is one of the– hold on *checks to see if Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year…it isn’t* this is one of the few stories collected here that actually evokes real emotion too. That means the Bat-tales went 1/3 in the quality department by my count.

Superman & Wonder Woman

This was supposed to be the main event, but I felt absolutely nothing for this story. The art was fine, but the dialogue was very unnatural and writer Andy Diggle tried to do too much in too short a period of time. It’s a short story with a romantic theme, yet he squeezed in a quiet dinner scene, mind control, super villains, and a self-sacrifice moment. Essentially, this is the opposite of what Kyle Higgins did with his handful of Nightwing pages. Just having these two larger than life characters sit at a table and talk was enough. We see them manipulated by magic and getting into super powered brawls several times a month.

This is a book that’s supposed to be a collection of romantic vignettes yet there’s no heart in most of these tales. No real emotion. Aquaman & Mera’s story was great and I enjoyed Nightwing & Ursa Minor’s date as well, but everything else fell flat. The book has a great cover, two decent stories, and some funny tear-out valentine cards (Batman’s says “Tonight is for ‘Just us'” which is admittedly pretty clever) that no collector will ever yank out. Do those things make this comic worth $7.99? Hell no! No. No. No. No way. No. In fact, I actually feel like I’m owed money after reading that Catwoman story.

SCORE: 3/10