Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Batman #66 – Second Opinion


The Apparition of Loss 

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Jorge Fornes
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Cover Price: $3.99
Review By: J. Dawn

Are you ready to dive back into Batman’s psyche? That’s right - “The Price” has concluded and “Knightmares” returns once more. In my experience dream sequences are usually an ineffective vehicle for plot progression. Dazzling with the fantastic, they often fail to provide something of substance. Can Tom King’s Batman #66 buck this trend? Or will he fall prey to the same trappings that many others have before him? Grab your Bat-scuba gear, because we’re going to have to go deep…


We open with the Question interrogating Catwoman about her relationship with Batman. Stewart’s colors, coupled with Cowles use of a smaller font set against larger panels instantly draw you in. They establish a noir tone that fits well with the introspective nature of the issue.

As the Question’s interrogation continues, we see a callback to Catwoman’s recollection of the first night she met Batman. This has been a staple throughout King’s run, and fans of King’s unique narrative style will sure to become giddy as we finally delve back into their relationship.



Catwoman constantly tries to dismiss the Question, telling him to read the note she wrote (a nice reference to Batman #50). She downplays her feelings, but her words betray her – she can’t help but recall all the striking details that made her fall for Batman in the first place: Liking the way his face looked in the moonlight. The distinct scent of leather and sweat. A captivation by the way he moves. This issue does an excellent job of portraying denial. Her avoidance of the topic is telling enough, but it’s these details that confirm what fans have been clamoring for – girl’s got it bad.

Through the Question’s interrogation, we get flashbacks to a foiled Two-Face exploit. (The line about Two Faced being double-crossed was quite clever.) Next, we see Batman fighting alongside the Justice League as a tentacled beast ravages the city. These moments are wonderfully captured by Fornes, but they’re more than just simple adventures. The team-up against Two-Face is used to show readers who Catwoman really is. Her moral compass doesn’t completely point north – she will involve herself in dangerous situations to “stop the bad guy”, even donating the money she received to charity…While still claiming the stolen diamond for herself. I really liked this portrayal, and I believe it goes a long way into getting into who Selina is as a person. She can’t absolve herself of all selfish desires, the way that Batman seems to be able to (at least, from her perspective.)



As Batman then fights the beast and continues to fight a slideshow of some of his iconic rogues, she narrates how ‘good’ Batman is. How no one can be as good as him. She comes to the conclusion that Batman is so dedicated to his “vow” (nice touch) and his mission to become the Bat that he can’t be anything besides Batman. He can’t be happy. He can’t be with her.

Or, at least, that’s what she’s saying to try and convince the Question. The Question, an apparition formed from Bruce’s consciousness, knows better. While this may be a conversation in Bruce’s head, it isn’t just meaningless banter. After the Wedding fell apart, King’s Batman has been a tale of immense loss and depression. This is a damaged Bruce – one who is physically and mentally slipping. He’s tried to distract himself with anything he can, but now he’s forced to finally face the one question the world’s greatest detective can’t solve: why?



Her love for him is evident. He’s never felt happier; so complete. They fit together so perfectly. So why did she leave him? He knows there must be a greater reason, yet Catwoman – another part of Bruce’s psyche – isn’t so easily persuaded. This represents Bruce’s inner turmoil and the fact that he’s questioning himself just as much as he’s questioning Catwoman’s motives. Even using the Question as an avatar to face Catwoman just further shows Bruce’s lack of understanding and confidence within himself. This all culminates in an incredible double page spread (hats off to Fornes and Stewart…my jaw dropped), followed by a revelation that made me squeal like a school girl. That last panel, in particular, shows how text and abstract space can convey such a powerful message.

Bits and Pieces:

King overcomes the trappings of the “dream sequence” trope, delivering a compelling issue that not only delves into Batman and Catwoman’s relationship but also provides deeper insight into who Bruce and Selina are as humans. If you haven’t been enjoying King’s run, you may discover that this issue isn’t for you, but if you have, then buckle up. With a heavily hyped action sequence set for the next issue, I’m left begging for more.


9/10 

No comments:

Post a Comment