Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Artwork: Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 6th December 2017
Hands down, this is one of the best comics I’ve ever read.
Not just this year, not just from DC. Ever.
It’s not often that a single issue from an ongoing storyline can really appeal to a wider audience, but because this issue plays on our shared cultural understanding of Batman and Superman, it’s completely accessible.
Maybe it’s not surprising: this is the creative team that made Kite Man a character you cared about, after all. Nevertheless, this exceeded all my expectations.
The premise of this two-part interlude is simple enough, as Lois and Selina discuss why their significant others haven’t spoken to one another about the Cat&Bat engagement.
First and foremost, this issue is genuinely funny, from the juxtaposition of natural marital conversation whilst literally catching a train, to some great visual gags playing with the parallel layout used. This structural parallelism cuts to the core of a relationship we all think we know, and explores the nature of Bruce and Clark’s friendship perfectly. Likewise, the warmth we see is entirely in keeping with how that friendship has developed in the context of the shared experience of fatherhood. It’s a testament to King’s writing that this story, and the characters, feel so fresh.
Of course, Clay Mann’s pencils not only helps, but reinforces this. From the neat overlaps and panel bleeds to the crisp portrayals of each of the 4 principals, every page is a triumph of sequential art. It’s easy to be complacent about the form at times but, again, there’s no let-up here – the inverted Gotham skyline panel is sheer head-bending genius – indeed it plays on and with our expectations, just as the narrative does.
With Seth Mann joining him on inks, and Jordie Bellaire’s vibrant yet restrained colouring, this is a (fittingly) team effort. Even Cowles’ lettering is crisp and measured – for an issue with a lot of italicised text, never mind 4 distinct speakers, there’s never any confusion.
Go buy it. This is what a comic is; not just a Batman comic, not just a DC comic – not even just what a superhero comic is.
It’s the best thing you’ll read all year.
[Click to Enlarge]