Review – Batman #49 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Art: Mikel Janin
Colours: June Chung
Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 20th June 2018

Catwoman races to Batman’s rescue as the Clown Prince of Crime attempts to prove a point. Will the wedding have to be called off or will the Cat triumph over the Joker in a list ditch effort to save the love of her life?

Tom King continues to evolve the dark, personal story of the Joker and his obsession with Batman. This time though he adds Catwoman to the proceedings. Part of the fascination with the relationship between Batman and the Joker is the respect and twisted love that exists between them. It’s most definitely not of a romantic nature, but rather a distorted sibling rivalry of sorts. They constantly try to outdo each other, always aiming that fatal blow each time hoping that the other one survives for just one more day.

King provides that dynamic in spades this issue, with Batman out cold and both Catwoman and the Joker caught in a stalemate, each trying to reconcile their feelings for the Dark Knight and emphasise who is the most deserving. We’re taken on a real deep dive of both characters’ emotional state and throughout the conflict, that one question we’re all asking is raised – can Batman be Batman if he is happy?

Mikel Janin does an absolutely incredible job this issue with some truly jaw-dropping artwork. The action sequence at the very beginning forgoes the backgrounds completely, shifting the focus to the combat and allowing greater emphasis on the impact of each strike. The final panel of the fight really highlights the important blows, ensuring that the reader is in no doubt of the outcome.

The resultant stalemate is my favourite part of the book, perhaps of the series to date and it simply wouldn’t work with any other artist. The facial expressions and body language, the writhing in pain is just so well done, feeling fully animated as the panels beautifully illustrate the passage of time.

June Chung augments Janin’s action sequences with startling reds and whites, focusing our attention on Catwoman’s acrobatics and the Joker’s marksmanship. The sequences that follow once more have a dreamlike quality, with the colours heavily muted to perfectly capture the gothic beauty that Gotham is shrouded in.

King and his team do a great job of giving us an insight into what the super villains of Gotham actually think of each other.  There is an amusing jab at The Riddler for instance which really feels like two co-workers discussing a third during a lunch break.

This issue is another triumph for King and his team as they take us towards the marriage of the Bat and the Cat. We really are witnessing some of the greatest tales every told in the Batman universe here.  We have never seen the Joker so deranged and yet sympathetic as he tries to do what he thinks is the right thing. Equally, it is great to see Catwoman so fierce and single-minded as she does the same.

This is a book that rarely disappoints, continuing to shine a much-needed light on Gotham and its inhabitants, both good and evil.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato

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