This was a really great issue. And I’m not even talking about the insane cliffhanger. (Spoilers, there’s an insane cliffhanger.) I’m talking about everything leading up to it. Sure, some people are going to fixate on the ending at the detriment of the rest of the issue, and I think that’s really sad. Especially when everything before that does so much to really let you into Batman’s psyche. And that’s where I like to be. In the character’s head. I like to know what makes him tick. Why he does the things he does. Knowing his fears and motivations helps make him real to me. Helps me to care about him. And that’s what this issue is. There’s no fight scenes. No villains. No conflict. (But there’s definitely drama!) It’s just a story that delves into Batman as a character. Don’t get me wrong, I love action and adventure and seeing Batman crash through skylights, but if I had to choose between character and action, I’d choose character every single time.
Aside from what happens at the very end (and we will get to that in the spoilers), this story is basically just a conversation between Claire Clover and Batman. So, I expect some people to tune out right away. In fact, I’m sure some people would classify this as a filler issue. But to me. This single issue was more poignant than any of King’s long drawn-out overthought epics. If I had to choose a single panel that summed up their conversation, it would probably be this one right here:
Surprise! Batman’s not a very happy person. And while that revelation is nothing earth-shattering or even a secret of any sort, it’s nice to see him lay it all out there for us to take in. In that sense, nothing is broached that we haven’t heard before or surmised on our own, but it’s nice to have all these ideas gathered into one place and put on display for our consumption.
Another key thing that Batman admits, is that he can never go back to being normal. He can never stop saving people. It’s just who he is now. It’s really the only way he knows to live his life. I have more to say on this, but I’ll save that for the spoiler as well.
As the conversation continues, we delve further into Batman’s psyche. And really, almost everything he says is a gem. I really wish I could post every page and just break each one down in turn. Occasionally when I review an issue, I have to find something to say. But here, I feel like I could write a review on each page. It really got me thinking. And while so much of what Batman said was emotionally moving and thought-provoking, there was one piece of advice I didn’t quite agree with:
As much as I appreciate the sentiment behind this statement. It’s a huge fallacy. There are very few things you actually need to do in life. You need to eat. You need to sleep. You need to breathe. I think you get my point. Everything else you do is stuff that you want to do. Reading this article. You don’t need to do that. Reading this comic. You don’t need that either. Sitting down and watching TV for hours on end. You don’t need that. I’d say that a larger percentage of our lives are filled with wants than needs. Some of you might say, “Well, I need to work.” But that’s not true. The only reason you need to work is because you want to live in a house (or buy this or that). But you don’t need to live in a house. You could live in the middle of nowhere and farm your own food. In fact, I think wants supersede needs in many cases. How often have you stayed up late when you needed to go to bed and then been tired the next day? Your desire to watch reruns of Dr. Who surpassed your necessity for sleep.
Why am I spending so much time contemplating the difference between what a “want” is versus what a “need” is? Well, it ends up being paramount to the finale. But before I get to that, let’s examine one last thing. Batman’s not Batman because he wants to be. Batman needs to be Batman. It’s one of those rare instance where something we would usually choose to do becomes something we have to do. Punching criminals is the addiction that helps Batman cope with the hand that life dealt him. Without “Batman”, he simply wouldn’t be able to go on. It’s like building up a tolerance to alcohol or drugs. At first you don’t need a lot to be happy and it distracts you from your pain. But the more you take, the more you need. And then, eventually, you need it just to make ends meet. Even if it isn’t giving you any joy at all.
Is that Batman? It’s sad to admit. But yeah. I think so.
Ok. So now let’s talk about what you’re all really here for:
Bruce proposes to Selina with the Travers Emerald Necklace!
Wait a minute. That’s not a necklace. I mean, I guess Bruce could have had the stone reset in a ring. That happens. But then he clearly said it was a diamond. Come on King! That’s not right. I know that diamonds are traditionally put in engagement rings, but you could have gone with an emerald engagement ring instead. And it would have matched Selina’s beautiful green eyes too.
In case that wasn’t clear to some of you, Catwoman stole an emerald necklace (not a diamond ring) while on board The Dolphin (Miss Travers’ Yacht/the boat Batman keeps referring to) in Batman #1 (1940).
But now that I’m done nitpicking details, let’s talk about this marriage proposal.
Although, before we get straight to it, can I just say that King is a big dirty tease giving us a cliffhanger like this. And especially right now. According to solicits, Batman #25 is the beginning of “The War of Jokes and Riddles”. That’s an 8 issues story! And unless something was rearranged, that means we will have to wait 4 or 5 months to find out Catwoman’s response. Not cool! But I guess it’s a savvy business decision.
Now, this is where all that stuff I discussed up till now comes into play.
Why is Batman doing this? Because he needs to. Oh….that’s not a good thing. When someone becomes a necessity over a desire, well, that’s just asking for trouble. Just to give you an idea of what I mean, need (to me) is a crazy kind of love. It’s the kind of love where you are obsessed with the other person and cut their name into your flesh with a razor. It’s when you stand outside in the pouring rain in front of their house getting soaked just hoping they open a window so they can catch a glimpse of you and see just how dedicated you are to them. Want is a choice. It’s a much healthier way to pick a partner. Maybe I wouldn’t have latched onto this so strongly, but then he says this:
That’s right girl. That’s your cue to get the hell out of there.
(Notice how little she says after this moment in the comic. Mm-hmm)
If he had said something like, ” I tracked it down years later.” Well then, that’s just romantic. Remembering some minor detail from years ago is definitely something endearing. But to say, I bought this ring the second after I met you because I knew we were destined to be together. Well, that’s just creepy. Yeah. I’m saying it. Batman is acting like a creepy stalker. It’s unnerving.
I see so many people on social media saying how romantic this is. It makes me wonder. Is this just a knee jerk reaction to seeing two long time lovers finally getting together? Have people really even taken the time to analyze this relationship? Or, are the ones shipping this the kind of people that value need over want?
This whole thing got me to thinking about Bruce’s emotional development. Look. I know that we all idolize Batman, so sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge his flaws, but Bruce is a child. Intellectually and physically, he is leaps and bounds ahead of us all. But emotionally. He is an 8 year old. He doesn’t have the mature social skills necessary to maintain a healthy relationship with another person.
And really. It seems to me that being with her is him merely replacing one need with another. Instead of punching criminals, he’ll be with Selina. Is that what she wants? To become his crutch? And if she does say yes, doesn’t that replace Batman entirely. I mean, if he is happy with her and she gives him the ability to live his life, why would he need Batman.
When you consider that he also said that he could never live a normal life. That he could never stop saving people. It seems to me that even if their relationship worked for a little while and he was able to be happy with her without being Batman, that he would eventually have to choose between the two of them. A normal life with Selina or the life of a hero as Batman. I don’t think he can handle both. Or that he would even need both to live.
Well, we’ve covered my opinion on Bruce. But what about Catwoman’s perspective?
She is a thief. She is a thrill seeker. For her, it’s all about the hunt. Batman is an unattainable treasure. It’s not the only reason she is drawn to him, but it’s definitely one of them. And, with this action, he is throwing himself at her. There’s no challenge in stealing something that is given freely. He is, essentially, eliminating on of the things that Selina finds attractive in him. First, the mystery of who this masked man is was removed. Now, he’s taken away the lure of forbidden fruit. I’d wager that Bruce’s sexy meter is plummeting by the minute in Selina’s eyes. Whether the initial answer is yes or no, I don’t see this going well for their future.
Odds and Ends:
- I thought the dig on Superman’s catch phrase, “up, up and away”, was initially humorous. But only if you take it out of context. Superman isn’t flying up and away from the people he needs to help. He is flying up and away to the next problem he needs to solve. So yeah. Cute. But ultimately, nonsensically if you stop to think about it.
- You want a character study, of sorts, on Batman.
- Oh yeah, and there’s that ending too, of course.
I thought that this was a great issue, and not at all because of the insane ending. The real draw for me was everything else leading up to it. Getting to examine the character of Batman and how he thinks was far more emotionally gratifying for me than the final (maybe controversial) moment from this issue. Even in the parts where Batman’s thought process wasn’t the most sound and I didn’t necessarily agree with him, I was still fascinated to get insight into his ruminations. It’s just a terrible shame that most people are going to fixate on the ending at the detriment of the rest of the issue. Because, the opening and build up is where the true story lies.
SCORE: 9 / 10