Batman #37 is all about the comedy. If you’re looking for crime fighting and super villains, you won’t find that here.
As the title on the cover implies, this issue features a double date between DC’s two most prominent power couples. But where oh where does one go on the rare off-night from busting heads and saving cute little kittens stuck up trees? Why…the Gotham County Fair of course! But alas, tis Super Hero night at the fair and only those appropriately dressed are granted entrance. What oh what is a hero to do? Suit up of course! It’s not exactly what you think….but it is ridiculously hilarious.
That’s right….I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed pretty much the entire issue. Granted…it’s silly, ludicrous, and very much like something that belongs in the 1950s, but it’s an insanely entertaining read. I actually found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I get that this isn’t for everyone, and if you came here for a rousing action adventure full of suspense and crime busting, you’re going to have a bad time. But if you just accept it for what it is, a fun little interlude in the relentless war on crime that these characters have vowed to undertake, I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.
So, we aren’t even off the first page of the issue and we are already treated to all kinds of hilarity. The biggest, most in your face joke is obviously the fact that they are actually real super heroes but are being turned away. The look on Bruce’s face is priceless. I can practically hear what he’s thinking. That alone is funny as can be, but if you flipped on through without checking out the rest of the page, you missed some other funny stuff.
The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, are ticket takers! I think you can read this joke one of two ways. Either those two are a couple, since they are wearing a couple’s costume, and she is totally cheating on her man behind his back with Plastic Man. Or, that’s just the uniform of the ticket takers at this fair, and she is shirking her responsibilities to play tonsil hockey.
Another piece of subtle humor here involves the Green Lantern. It may just be the way I’m interpreting it, but I’m pretty sure if you follow his sight-line, he’s checking out Wonder Woman’s butt.
The scene also features Black Canary, The Question, and Bat-Mite. While nothing is intrinsically funny about their inclusion, it’s nice to get fun little cameos like this. Incidentally, you can expect a whole lot more as the rest of the story unfolds.
I should probably take a moment here to point out that this review will be a little more spoilery than usual. Since the entire issue is essentially one joke after the next, and that’s basically what the entire issue is about, it’s kind of hard to review this without discussing the jokes to some point. If not, I’d just have to stop the review here and say, “This is really funny, buy it.” I won’t ruin every joke in this review, but I can’t really think of a way to discuss this issue without outright discussing it. Anyway….
Lois comes up with a brilliant plan that involves them simply donning the costumes they already possess, but since they would look too much like themselves if they donned their own suits, everybody switches costumes. This entire plan is met with nothing but opposition from Bruce. And just when you think he’s about to come around, this happens:
Haha. Sorry Selina, not even your feminine wiles and persuasive abilities are enough to break the ironclad will of The Bat! Obviously things proceed regardless of Bruce’s wishes, but it’s still funny how steadfast Bruce is in his negativity. Even on a night out when they are supposed to be having fun, he’s still all serious.
Incidentally, love the attention to detail with all the cuts and bruises all over Bruce.
This joke I both like and dislike. I’ll start with why I like it, because it’s a much simpler explanation. Bruce is like, there isn’t any hidden meaning or underlying subtext to this. What you see is what it is. And in a way, that might almost be a dig at the whole Superman’s symbol being a sign for hope thing. Personally, the first time I ever heard this whole hope thing was in the Man of Steel movie. And to that I say, keep your movie nonsense out of my comic…um…nonsense. Seriously though, are we just ignoring the fact that the symbol for “S” in the Kryptonian alphabet looks like this:
If Superman’s symbol was really supposed to be the sign for hope over, say, the first letter in his name…wouldn’t it look like this:
That’s a Kryptonian “H”, by the way.
In looking this up, I actually found out that they redesigned the entire Kryptonian alphabet for the movie. I guess if you’re going to go the route of making an “S” mean hope you have to get rid of the evidence that an “S” is simply an “S”.
So, here’s another reason why I didn’t really like this joke. Let’s say for arguments sake that, in the current continuity, Superman’s symbol really is the sign for hope to his people. Doesn’t this seem like the kind of thing Batman would already know? I mean, he’s telling Batman this like it’s new information. If these guys are really best buds that have been hanging together for years, I find it hard to believe that this is the first time this has come up. Yes….I’m really, really, really overthinking this. At the end of the day, it’s just a set up for what is a funny joke. But at the same time, I can’t imagine that I’m the only person that thinks about this kind of stuff and finds it a little clunky.
Here we have Clark and Lois exiting the Tunnel of Love
Oh, how sweet. The loving couple share a tender moment together. And while last issue we were getting constant comparisons between the two men showing how different yet similar they are, this time it’s done for laughs over sincerity. I’m not going to spoil the end of this joke for you. You’ll have to get the comic to see it for yourself. But I will say this much….DAYUMMMM.
Aside from all the joking, there really are some great conversations that happen in this comic. Primarily, between the ladies. The biggest question Lois ends up having is, “Why?” “Out of everyone you could have, why him?” The answer ends up being insanely perfect. And not just because it echoes a line about the two of them from a previous Batman story. But also because the line is something that Lois can literally understand. It’s almost as if King had this specific conversation in mind over a year ago and planted that seed in hopes that some observant reader would pick up on it now. Because, they don’t make too big a deal about it. It’s not like, surprise, aren’t you impressed. Nope. It’s just there.
Man oh man, Clark is going to town on that cone.
Art for this issue is handled by Clay Mann. I could go on forever about how perfect everything is, but that would take forever. So instead of highlighting how good 90% of the comic is, I’m going to point out the 10% that actually stuck out to me as odd. There are these two pages where the 4 characters are eating ice cream cones, 16 panels in all. Each character is shown 4 times, and every single panel is the same. 4 identical panels of Clark, 4 identical panels of Lois, 4 identical panels of Selina, and 4 identical panels of Bruce. (Yes, there are color changes, but the pencils and inks are the same) I cropped out and spliced together all the ones of Clark so you can see for yourself. These panels are not side by side in the story. They are inter cut with the rest of the characters as they have a conversation. Given the length of this conversation, it seems really odd that they are in the exact same position for the entire scene. At first, I tried to figure out if there was some kind of reason for it. But I finally determined that it must have just been done to save time or something. If that is the case, that’s super uncool. Not only is it distracting as hell that the character’s are stuck in some kind of freeze frame, but it also means we got cheated out of some art.
Odds and Ends:
- Check out the graffiti Tom King etched into the stall door of the Women’s restroom. Wait a minute! What was Tom King doing in the Women’s restroom!?!
- Girl Talk. Selina totally knocks on Bruce’s proposal! And I’m not talking about the rooftop ring part. But the part where he makes her listen to a KiteMan story before giving her final answer. That is hilarious! And you know why? Because after The War of Jokes and Riddles was finished, I was like, “That’s what you thought would make her not want to marry you?” And it’s hilarious to think that she is just as dismissive of it as I’m sure some of the readers were. Haha.
- This is a reference to a training exercise Bruce underwent in Batman: Year One.
- It’s also not the first time King has referenced this very scene in order to make a joke. I don’t recall the specific issue, but Bruce and Duke were training together outside and someone cracked a joke about needing more trees or something like that.
- While we all get the joke, it does seem slightly odd to me to keep bringing up this training montage from Year One. At the time, it was a makeshift way for Bruce to work out and served as setup for future events from the story. But now that Bruce has a training room setup in a fully functional Batcave, it doesn’t really seem like a practical thing for him to be running around outside kicking trees. The reason he was doing it to begin with was because he didn’t have another option at the time. Now he does. I just think it’s odd that they are trying to play up the idea that kicking trees is a thing that Batman does. Jumping through Skylights is a thing Batman does. But kicking a tree, that’s just something he did that one time.
- There were a couple of stories back in the 1950s where Bruce and Clark would switch costumes for one reason or another. I recall this one story where some random robbers had a liquid Kryptonite gun they were using against Superman to commit robberies. So, Batman dressed up as Superman to take them out. The bad guys kept trying to use the kryptonite gun against Batman instead of regular guns because they knew those would be useless against Superman. By the time they figured out what was going on, it was too late for them to open fire on Batman with their machine guns because he had already closed the distance between them and disarmed them of all their weapons.
- You want to laugh until you pee yourself.
This is one of the funniest Batman stories I’ve read in years. Given the depressing and all encumbering nature that so many of King’s Batman stories have pushed, it was a real delight to finally get something so lighthearted. There will be those out there who aren’t happy, because admittedly, there’s no superheroing to really speak of in this issue. The situations are all pretty much just played for laughs. But if you don’t like a joke, don’t worry….the comic has like 40 of them in there. So, you’re bound to find something that will tickle your funny bone.
SCORE: 9 / 10