Did you get an invitation to the wedding? If you’re still trying to avoid spoilers, you’ll want to skip this review since it’s just ONE BIG SPOILER (there might be very little to talk about otherwise).
But if you’ve already got your hands on your own copy, or else had your fun wrecked by major headlines giving away the outcome–or simply don’t care anymore at this point–read on (though I recommend you do so with the calming beverage of your choice firmly gripped in one hand).
So what have we been reading for the last year? A giant screaming ramp up to the nuptials of the century, right? To the final resolution of the love between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Or Batman and Catwoman at least, since for some bizarre reason they’re getting married as their avatars and not as real people? Somebody help me out. What am I missing here?
Maybe the fact that Bruce and Selina apparently wouldn’t be having an actual legal wedding should have been our first clue that this whole thing wasn’t really going to go down smooth.
On my first read, I tried to appreciate the unconventional way in which the story is being presented. Bat and Cat have written letters to one another just after agreeing to an impromptu wedding on a rooftop with a judge who will be so drunk he won’t remember. Should I stop now and talk about how stupid this is, or should we just push through? Because a drunk judge who doesn’t remember does what exactly? Or proves what? It’s not even a legal wedding considering both parties are vigilantes getting married without using their real names.
Should I stop here and talk about how stupid that is? Given that the marriage will have no legal binding, what do they need a drunk judge for at all? For that matter why do they need witnesses?
The one saving grace of this comic: Bruce asks Alfred to be his witness. What a lovely emotional moment. Replete with hugs. I won’t ruin it by mentioning that he asks Alfred to be his witness–not “best man”. Did I just ruin it?
Let’s just enjoy this picture and think happy thoughts for a moment
Alfred mentions whether Bats ought to ask Dick first, which is also sweet. Where is Dick? For that matter, where’s the rest of the dang Batfamily? Tom King writes this book as if it’s a TV show that would go over budget if it tried to include all the important guest stars in the all-important big event. While on the one hand I appreciate keeping it tight, keeping it small, and, in some way, undercutting all the insane hype for this event, at the end of the day the story has to justify the reversal of expectations. Not only within context of the narrative, but it also has to be even more somehow for the fans that have arrived with their best dresses and boutineers.
But the sad truth of the matter is that none of us are invited to the wedding.
Because–SPOILER!–there is no wedding.
Does that cast us all as irate Jokers, crazed and incensed at the perceived snub? If only the book were that clever or that brave. No, instead this is just another case of “we love each other too much and therefore we can never be together” (oh woe!) because the world would end and the sun would plunge into the sea, and darkness would fall upon the land, and demons would eat all the children and kittens and then build savage temples of their bones.
Or, more likely, because DC does not have the courage to upend what’s been the status quo in this book for so long that people have forgotten that Batman was once a happy character who cracked wise and didn’t take himself too seriously once upon a time.
Instead we get the climax to a year-long tease that’s about as anticlimactic as a Beatles reunion tour that deliberately omits Paul McCartney. Why in the world did Selina accept Bruce’s proposal? Why did we have all these tie-ins about taking chances and the importance of allowing happiness in? Why all these months of interactions basically affirming that this is the “right” choice? Only to have Selina flake out in the 11th hour for reasons as spurious and melodramatic as this falsely conjured absurd notion of “self-sacrifice”.
If the wedding was to be a failure, why not have it be for actual legitimately dramatic reasons? Like Selina killing the Joker and Batman having a meltdown over that. Or them being separated by Bane’s evil plot–whatever the heck that is; because if, as the ending suggests, he was the one throwing all these villains in their way, what was his point? To break up the wedding? Why would he even care? Oh look, he broke Batman’s heart, just like how he once broke Batman’s back. It’s like poetry!
Except its not.
Batman re-imagined as a circus balloon by Tim Sale and José Villarrubia?
There’s other stuff to talk about in here: like why is Holly Robinson in Arkham (she’s a terrorist, not a super-villain), why is she Catwoman’s +1, why does Selina bring her with a blindfold to Wayne Manor rather than just parking in the back like normal people do (it’s not like anyone would see them)–and/or if Holly knows Batman’s secret identity, what difference does it make if she knows the secret passagewa–oh forget about it! Maybe most of all, I had to ask myself why should we care?
Similar questions could be asked about the appearance of Gotham Girl in this comic, as well as Kite Man, and ultimately the entirety of the epilogue. It’s all good and well that King has his pets (just as Snyder did before him), but if they’re not serving the story in some specific way, they’re just there for the writer’s own amusement–which is fine except when it’s to the exclusion of, again, the entire rest of the Batfamily.
But this is getting long and I’m about to devolve into a rant, so let’s talk about the art for a moment.
Welcome to the pin-up book you didn’t ask for!
I don’t hate the concept, but it seems rather disingenuous to have a book full of pin-ups of the happy couple for a wedding that’s not going to take place. So while I appreciate the idea and do like some of the art; I don’t think it actually serves except to salt the wound of no “happily-ever-after” (and again, because the reasons for the failure to wed are ridiculous, not just because we didn’t get a ballroom dance scene). If the pin-ups are meant as a counterpoint to this “tragedy”, pardon me while I roll my eyeballs right out of my head because I certainly don’t feel sorry at all for Selina, and Batman just looks a fool here on so many levels.
But anyway: the art!
Mikel Janin on the throughline pages is solid enough; there’s one great double-page spread where Bruce and Selina in their wedding togs meet in the hallway. Do I bother asking why they are wearing wedding togs if they’re getting married as Bat and Cat? Or why Bruce shows up to the “ceremony” in a tux after they decide, impromptu to marry on the rooftop? Or why this wedding wasn’t actually planned with the family? Or why the Joker was going on and on about his invitation even though clearly there never were invitations to begin with (or is that supposed to be ironic?).
If the point is that Batman is being impulsive for once instead of meticulously planning every detail in advance (as Batman is wont to do), does that make it better? Or worse?
I had a handful of favorite pin-ups, including those by Andy Kubert & Alex Sinclair, Jason Fabok & Brad Anderson, Lee Bermejo, and Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia. There’s also some stuff that looks tossed together at the last second which I won’t name here as it doesn’t even deserve that much.
The decision to add the artists’ names on the pages is a peculiar one. Honestly, every time I hit one of these pages, I thought it was an advertisement or, towards the end, that the comic was finished. It was distracting and felt like a weird gimmick that interrupted the story flow rather than pushed things forward. And ultimately there’s a strange push and pull with the pinups because some of them are super-dynamic, full of life and motion, and yet the story is not that. I found myself musing over what great adventure might be happening in the splash page instead of this dry treatise on eyes and love and the meaning of it all. You need these pages in the book because not a lot of action happens and it’s all a big letdown, and yet, again, it’s just a shtick that adds no story value except to reminisce over better times and lament lost opportunities.
Purrfect? No, it’s nonsensical
So after a year of marketing, of tie-ins, of in-verse characters being excited to see this whole thing come off, of villains trying their darndest to spoil the fun, it’s ultimately Selina who just irrationally decides that all the reassurances and proofs and hopes that led up to this moment pale in comparison to some bizarre perception that marrying Batman will be the end of the Dark Knight. King writes Selina like she’s a straight-up idiot who thinks her “sacrifice” is unselfish, and infantilizes Bruce as if he’s someone who can’t make up his own mind who he is/wants to be and needs his girlfriend to do it for him.
I really struggled with the rating on this one, but after my third read-through, I can’t in good conscience give this better than a 5, and it annoys me sufficiently to dock another half point off. I’m okay with the Bat and the Cat not tying the knot, but the marketing on this event has been cruel and the lack of serious risk-taking with this title (and with Batman as a character overall) is wearing real thin on me these days. Couple that with the absurd ending “reveal”, and I’m surprised I’m giving this better than a 4, frankly.
Honestly: we don’t need planet-shattering events or mega-crossovers or even wedding cake. We just need good stories that show us Batman is capable of growth and that his life isn’t a joyless slog of fighting for people only so he can mope about them. Forever. Sad Batman is a comedic meme for a reason.
Sound off in the comments section–there’s so much to unpack in this book despite its thin plot. And let us know which of the pin-ups/splash pages is your favorite! Especially interested in any folks who actually liked this event and have positive things they would like to contribute to the discussion.
- You want a “collectors’” book that likely will never actually be worth anything.
- You like pin-up art from many different artists.
- You’re a completionist (sorry!).
Whether by directive or on his own steam, Tom King drops the trap under the feet of the collective fans caught in the gallows of this long slog of an event. In what may prove to be the biggest misfire of the year, Batman and Catwoman…write love letters to each other, accompanied by lots of pictures from artists “celebrating” this epic tale of passion and power. And no one actually gets invited to the wedding except Alfred, Holly, and a drunk judge because legalizing a marriage between a couple of vigilantes matters. Or maybe it doesn’t because this whole issue is basically a shiny piece of wax fruit: just as false and just as unsatisfying.