Batman #34 review

Batman 34

Batman and Catwoman enter a forbidden zone and are met with opposition in the form of Talia Al Ghul.  Being one of the Dark Knight’s former lovers, Talia seems to be taking offense by the recent engagement of the happy new couple.  And as most things in comics go, internal turmoil is resolved by external fisticuffs.  Let the drama unfold!

Many of King’s previous stories have hinged on overly complex scenarios, but here, it’s pretty much just a straightforward versus battle.  And personally, I couldn’t be happier.  I found the extremely simplified nature of the plot to be a breath of fresh air that had some highly entertaining elements sown into it that left me feeling quite satisfied.

On top of that, it seems that King is going with a much more linear storytelling approach this time around.  King’s hasn’t always shown a great concern in presenting the minutia of any given tale he tells.  Instead, opting to focus more on the themes or ideas of a given piece at the detriment of the connective elements of a plot.  Having to generate portions of a story is nothing new to comic readers, but King took it to a level where massive sections of his stories would be glossed over or severely generalized, forcing the reader to extrapolate way beyond the norm.  But this story is anything but that.

I was also severely surprised to see that King took the route I was hoping for.   In my last review I made this comment: “Does anyone else think Batman and Catwoman are on their way to secure Holly Robinson?  Just a thought.”  Usually I say a lot more about any given subject, but seeing as how I honestly didn’t expect King to go anywhere near where it made sense to go I didn’t bother to elaborate on this point.  Color me surprised when Batman had this to say:

Not only did I find this surprising since it was what I wanted to see happen and King didn’t throw in something else completely unexpected, but I’ve also found King to be a writer that doesn’t typically deal with ever loose end he presents.  So, to have him actually picking one up and dealing with it is a real surprise to me.  It’s almost as if he is playing with our expectations at this point.  Now that we’ve come to expect a certain kind of story from him, he’s going to turn things on their head so that he can continue to deliver the unexpected.

Considering that most of the story revolves around fighting, the majority of it is also dressed up with witty repertoire to keep us further entertained.  Some of it’s wonderful and some of it isn’t quite that enthralling.  If I had to pick my least favorite exchange between Batman and Catwoman, it would probably be the opening page.  It’s basically a discussion on semantics that takes place right before the brawl begins.  I was fine with the first two panels, but then it seemed like it went on for quite a while given their predicament.  On top of that, it didn’t seem to be the most prudent or worthwhile conversation they could have been having given what was about to go down.

In my last review, I wasn’t all that impressed with Joelle Jones’ artwork.  Nothing about it was bad, but for her first issue on Batman, I didn’t really feel like she did anything too memorable or unique.  But with this issue, she did.  After the somewhat silly exchange between Batman and Catwoman on the first page, Jones spends four full-page images illustrating the odds our heroes are up against.  I really liked the way she drew us into the image.  With the characters in the foreground, I really got the impression that I was there amongst the action.  And the way the camera/point of view circles the duo, it felt very cinematic.  Think the first Avengers movie when all the heroes are standing back to back in a circle and the camera spins around them as the Chitauri surround them (Sorry to those of you that are offended I used a Marvel reference in a DC review.  Couldn’t think of a more iconic shot that we probably all would have seen given that even if you didn’t see the movie it was in all the trailers).

Jones also does this wonderful tease at the end of the story when Talia finally joins the fray.  Before we see her properly, we are hinted at closeups of just her mouth talking and her feet approaching the weary duo.  It’s very threatening and builds the tension to her full reveal.

Once we get to the fight, I did appreciate that it was easy to follow, but I was disappointed that most of the sword play was cut from the exchange.  In the opening shots we see that everyone has a sword, but after a quick cut to Talia, almost nobody has a sword anymore.  Obviously the action sustained during the cut, and Batman and Catwoman disarmed some of them, but it would have been nice to have seen some of those disarms.  As it stands, the fight is all fists and feet.  And given that we were shown it was going to be swords versus fists, I kind of wanted to see how they were going to deal with that disadvantage.

Most of the story focuses on Batman and Catwoman, but we have this great aside with Dick and Damian.  And really, this is probably my favorite scene in the entire book.  Like the rest of the story, it’s super simple in it’s delivery, but packs a huge punch.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I love these two together.  I also don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that these two have a far better relationship with one another than either of them actually have with Bruce.  They just work together on so many levels that I’m really kind of sad that we don’t get more stories with the two of them together more often.  Oh well, I guess that’s what back issues are for.

SHOW SPOILER ▼

Odds and Ends:

  • It’s pretty telling that Batman has punched so any people that this is something he is actually capable of noticing.

  • Semantics again.  Look, whichever way you spin it, Talia is more dangerous than Catwoman.  Catwoman is just an acrobatic thief, while Talia is the head a league of assassins.  It’s like comparing apples and oranges.
  • I love the fact that Talia called Batman “detective” instead of “beloved”.  Obviously it wouldn’t make sense for here to say “beloved” given the context of the story.  But to switch his moniker to “detective” is very telling.  Since it’s the name that Ra’s always called Batman, it’s simply another element that sets up Talia as opposition.  Not that everything that happened before it wasn’t clear enough, but nice to see the dialogue supporting the rest of the story.  It’s simply an attention to detail I appreciated.
  • So, I’ve heard that when you get stabbed you aren’t supposed to remove the blade because it’s actually helping to keep the blood in any severed veins.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see what it looks like when King goes linear and more bare-boned. (It’s a good thing)

Overall:

Super simple yet insanely entertaining.  Witty dialogue, cinematic artwork, sequential fighting and heartfelt gestures are but a few of the things you have to look forward to from this issue of Batman.

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

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