As I type up this review, this is still the official solicitation for this comic that appears on DC’s website: “STREETS AND SWAMPS! Swamp Thing comes to Gotham City with a mysterious request for Batman—but these longtime allies will have to make up for lost time and work together in order to confront a growing threat that only they can stop!” Please be aware that this is not what actually takes place in this comic. Swamp Thing is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it is indeed the continuation and conclusion of the “Rooftops” storyline.
For anyone that has been flipping out since October 19th, which is the date we all learned that Catwoman murdered 237 people, you will be very very very pleased to know that we finally get a definitive answer on this particular plot point. Now this is just assumption on my part, and I have seen it mentioned in several other places online, but it’s possible that DC asked King to move up his reveal regarding this mystery (or he decided to do it on his own) because so many fans were beyond livid with the narrative he was turning out for Catwoman. That is a potential explanation as to why this story has taken the place of the originally scheduled Swamp Thing story. So, on to business.
As we rejoin our heroes, they are basking in the afterglow and reflecting on the past. I got a total kick out of this scene because they both remember their first meeting in two completely different ways. And in actuality, they are both correct despite the fact that these events are from two distinctly different and previous timelines. Bruce remembers when they first met from Batman #1 (1940) and Selina remembers their first meeting from Batman #404 (1987). The fact that King acknowledges both of these was, in my eyes, basically a way of saying that continuity is ultimately up to the reader. The past of these characters is whatever past you have for them in your own head. Having read every Batman story ever written, I know what the continuity for any given time-frame in Batman history is, but I also have my own personal account of Batman’s history that I have piece-mealed together from all his adventures. Creating an amalgamation of Batman that really is just mine. And I guess everyone has that too. Nobodie’s mental picture of Batman is exactly the same. Even someone like myself who has read everything is still going to piece together there own version of Batman by integrating the stories that defined him to them. This scene was a wonderfully simply yet extremely effective way to say all that without actually saying it.
If you’re one of those people that needs things to make sense in-world, you could always say that they remember things differently because of the tampering with the timeline that was caused by Dr.Manhattan. You could even do some mental somersaults and find a way to include them both in your own personal mental timeline. You could assume that Bruce was not aware that he encountered Selina “in the street” and only took note of her and bothered to remember her once her criminal career began. In any case, I loved it. I’m certain that many of you have read Batman: Year One, so I won’t take the time to point out which panels from #404 correspond with the ones shown in this issue (you can look those up on your own), but I will take the time to highlight the ones from Batman #1 as I’m guessing there is a far larger number of people out there who aren’t familiar with that story.
Images on the left are from #15 and the right hand side are the original images from Batman #1 (1940).
Incidentally, I would feel remiss if I didn’t share this panel as well:
In the original story, this panel comes right after the one in which he removes her wig. You may have seen it floating about online before and assumed it was just a parody that someone created by replacing the dialogue in the word balloon, but this is in fact real. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that King didn’t include it somehow. I mean, imagine the comedy gold that could have been mined by poking fun at this line. Heck, he could have turned the tables and given the line to Selina somehow. She’s a saucy little minx after-all. I wouldn’t put it past her to give Batman a little swat on the behind.
Ok. Ok. Now that I am done geeking out over nostalgia, lets talk about the rest of the book, which is equally as awesome.
At this point in the story Batman actually uses detective skills to pick up on her trail. I know…shocking, right? It’s something I am always asking for and it actually showed up for a change. Granted, it’s short lived, but I’ve been so starved for some good old-fashioned detective work for so long that any little morsel seams like a feast right about now. In any case, it leads to a wonderful scene between Batman and Gordon that highlights an ever classic crowd pleasing Batman tenet.
I don’t really want to give too much of the story away beyond this because it will ruin it for anybody that hasn’t already read it. Suffice it to say, explanations are given, and I for one was completely satisfied with the outcome.
Art for this issue is once again brought to us by Mitch Gerads. Generally speaking, I think Gerads does a really nice job on his wide-shots, but when you come in for closeups on the faces things start to get a little iffy. Even with that being the case, I feel like the work he put forth in this issue is still slightly better than last time. A lot of that has to do with the excellent job he did at depicting the flashbacks that involved Bruce and Selina’s first meeting. The panels weren’t exact copies, but great care was taken to reproduce the visual style from Batman #1 and #404, including the color pallet that each used. He also reproduced the color bleed that was so commonly found in the Golden Age comics. There is also this really nice P.O.V shot where Batman is a little dazed:
Looking at this panel is making ME a little dizzy. It’s simply a wonderful effect that really helps translate to you what Batman is feeling.
At the end of the day, this story succeeded in answering my most pertinent questions and really only left me with one quandary.
What’s that supposed to mean?
- You’ve been waiting for an explanation in regards to the 237 Catwoman murders. Here it is. No tricks. No ambiguity. An actual answer.
- You like reminiscing on the past.
In the last several months, I’ve seen many people online say that King doesn’t understand Catwoman. A part of me wonders if this story isn’t in some small way King’s response to those people. That by including flashback elements to previous Catwoman relevant stories, he’s attempting to show that he does in fact understand the history of the character. Whether that is the case or not, I think the very outcome of the story itself proves that he understands the character far more than many of us gave him credit for. Answers to the 237 Catwoman murders aside, this story is an impeccable example of perfection through simplicity. While not a great deal happens, what does happen hits all the right beats.
SCORE: 9 / 10