Batman #50 // Review
William Shakespeare wrote, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” With comic book weddings, this sentiment is perpetuated ad nauseum. Much like their soap opera contemporaries, comic book weddings have a long history of being highly publicized productions, only for things to go awry the day of the ceremony, with the union that elicited such fanfare rarely coming to fruition. Often, this dissolution of the initial espousal is supplanted by a spur-of-the-moment replacement at the altar, a la Night at the Roxbury, as seen recently in X-Men Gold #30. However, more often than not, comic writers use weddings as a jumping off point for a new storyline or to insert a plot twist meant to hook readers brought in by the promised nuptials. In Tom King’s Batman #50, the latter is illustrated, with much of the issue comprised of figurative and literal love letters to the canonical coupling of Batman and Catwoman throughout their published history, only for Catwoman to be shown getting get cold feet right before the ceremony. This change of heart is revealed to have been orchestrated by nemesis, Bane, alongside a cabal of villainous cohorts, whose machinations have seemingly interwoven, thus far, King’s entire run on the title.
Catwoman’s crisis of conscience stemmed from the mentality that if Bruce Wayne were ever to become content, he would lose the drive and motivation needed to perform successfully as Batman. Selina is successfully gaslighted into believing that marrying Batman would essentially result in the figure of Batman ceasing to exist, and that the most loving thing she could do would be to deprive him of the happiness and contentment he craves, so that his war on crime could continue unabated. Selina Kyle coming to this conclusion is telegraphed the previous issue, in her interactions with the Joker, as well as in the warped timeline seen an arc prior, when Booster Gold gives Bruce and Selina “The Gift” of knowing what the world would be like if Bruce Wayne’s parents had not been killed and he had happily reached adulthood with a loving family (In short, it goes to hell). While the revelation of Catwoman’s eventual absenteeism has been cultivated for many issues, the wedding cop-out nonetheless cheats readers, sows distrust in the author, and furthers the narrative that “event” comics are nothing more than corporate cash grabs. This plot twist may serve simply as a bump in the road for the coupling of the Cat and the Bat, and the duo may indeed achieve a blissful union somewhere down the line, but following Issue #50’s betrayal, there may be far less readers who tune in, or care.
While the plot’s progression may leave many readers disappointed and perturbed by King’s authorial direction, the supplementation of Mikel Janín’s regularly exceptional work with innumerable splash pages provided by renowned artists spanning Batman’s history, is something to be praised. Industry legends such as: Neal Adams, Amanda Conner, Frank Miller, Tony S. Daniel, Andy Kubert, Tim Sale, etc. lent their pencils to the issue, in a loosely arranged exploration of Catwoman and Batman’s romantic history, threaded together by mirrored love letters between the Cat and the Bat.
Ultimately, Batman #50 succeeds in stoking the interests of long-time readers with the odd assemblage of villains complicit in Bane’s plot seen in the last panel--particularly given the inclusion of traditionally altruistic characters: Holly Robinson, Gotham Girl, Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne), and Skeets. However, the misleading nature of the issue may inadvertently lead to an overall loss of patronage and interest among readers.