Batman/Catwoman #8 is a visual feast courtesy of Liam Sharp, who utilizes various styles to keep up with Tom King’s twisty script. The barriers between the various timelines blur more than ever before, but each individual scene is incredibly strong despite the bevy of themes and ideas King throws at the reader. You’re either on this book’s wavelength or not by this point and those who have stuck around will find this month’s issue among its most intense and disturbing.
Bruce and Selina spend much of the issue at each other’s throats as they squabble over Selina’s friendship with the Joker. They’ve had this argument before in this series, but King’s script and Sharp’s art combine in a manner that makes this lover’s quarrel more intense than ever. The Gotham skyline is muggy and gray as Bruce chases Selina across rooftops just like old times. Except this time, this chase isn’t flirtatious, but vicious, as Selina criticizes how Bruce wants her to behave a certain way to fit within his strict moral code. The dialogue is mature, as Selina despairs at how Bruce repeats a cycle of sex and anger directed at her whether or not she tells him the truth about Joker’s whereabouts. Sharp’s stark compositions are beautiful to behold, with Selina and Bruce’s silhouettes lending good contrast in the near black and white palette. While this argument between the two has been done many times before, Sharp’s thoughtful compositions do a good job of dramatizing the space between them against the backdrop of the city they both live for.
While there’s a certain sensuality to that rooftop chase (even if it does end in a bit of violent decoupling), a separate scene involving a Joker victim on a bridge is a more harrowing depiction of Bruce and Selina’s troubled relationship. Sharp once again absolutely nails the atmosphere with one panel’s composition largely barren as a dying man stands on the edge of a bridge with only the empty void of a snowstorm behind him. His hair is red, only beaten in color by the even darker blood pouring from a neck wound. A close up reveals a bevy of detail from individual strands of beard to meticulously rendered wrinkles as he furrows his brow. Even his glasses cast a brilliant reflection of Batman as he approaches him. It’s a nice subtle touch to have the man’s glasses never reveal his eyes and instead bounce light off the lenses to create a more striking, ethereal image. As the man plummets over the edge after delivering a message from the Joker, Selina yawns out of boredom, waiting for Bruce’s inevitable rescue attempt to fail. The soft touches of red on Selina’s cheek hint at the freezing temperatures she’s in. They also serve to add a little color and shape to her features.
I could talk about the brilliant art all day, but King’s script also delivers the goods across the two other storylines. The elderly Selina escaped off-panel from her imprisonment in order to attain Joker’s dead body from the morgue. According to her, Commissioner Dick Grayson brought the body from Florida to make sure Joker is actually dead. This is a nice touch by King as I never would have really thought about the necessity of verifying the Joker’s body. It also gives Selina a thoughtful destination to arrive at, as she makes nefarious plans that involve a not-so nice treatment of the remains. Even in death, Joker’s body contains power that must be dismantled. Helena Wayne doesn’t have quite as much to do this time around, but she does share a nice scene with Dick, where they talk about why exactly Bruce fell in love with Selina in the first place. Helena thinks it’s more about the leather and whip, but Dick shares a more tender interpretation based on what Bruce told him years ago. It’s a nice moment, especially since while Helena resents her mother’s actions, Sharp and King visualize their similarities when a panel of Helena slapping Dick’s tobacco pipe from his hand is immediately followed up by Selina slapping Bruce across the face.
A visual highlight also comes in the form of Sharp’s rendition of Phantasm as he draws her more menacingly than ever before. Part of this may be a subtle attempt to draw her from the perspective of a young boy she and Joker come to speak with. I won’t get into spoilers here, but there’s a reveal that adds a little more mystery to Phantasm’s entire motivation in regards to avenging her dead son. Sharp’s Joker is an enigma; he looks different on almost every panel, which keeps him forever at a distance from true comprehension. In one panel he’s highly detailed, down to seeing every wrinkle and curve of his unique features. In the next, the color is much more flat, making him look like a cartoon, then in the next his eyes are cast in deep dark shadow, as if his eyes have given way to small, black voids.
Once again, the only scenes that make me question King’s take on the characters are when Selina and Joker pal around as “friends” in the past. We get another scene of Selina doubting her morality as she enables Joker in his murderous campaigns, which by this point has become a little repetitive. However, this time around there’s a bit more tension than usual when Joker pulls a gun on Selina since the reader isn’t fully sure if he’s doing a gag or truly threatening her life. There’s definitely a more haphazard approach in this issue when it comes to the art and script structure, but that unruliness works in its favor this time as several plot threads inch ever closer to monumental shifts. The cliffhanger in particular will have fans itching for the next issue.
- Liam Sharp’s art is enough to get you immersed just on its own.
- Seeing Phantasm and Joker’s partnership unravel piques your interest.
- You don’t mind some slightly repetitive romantic squabbles between Bruce and Selina.
Batman/Catwoman #8 finds its hold on the reader through Sharp’s wonderful art that keeps you on your toes just as much as Tom King’s plot twists. As we enter the third act of the series, the narrative could stand to be more cohesive as many plot points take place off panel, but for those still around I can’t imagine this issue would turn you away.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.