So let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way; USA Today let the cat out of the bag on Tuesday, with news from the fictional society pages, advertising the engagement of Mr Bruce Wayne and Miss Selina Kyle. All I can say is that it must have been a slow news day when the popping of the question between two fictional icons, trumps the ongoing issues of the President and the FBI. It seems that whilst one relationship flourishes, another one withers.
From the get go, this book is about reflection; reflection of the actions taken so far, their impacts on the relationships that have marked Tom King’s run. Thematically, having Gotham Girl ask “what’s next”, mirrors the voice of the reader who have been on this book from it’s Rebirth. Batman, however, is unable to really help Gotham Girl. This is to be expected as from the moment his parents were killed Bruce has had one goal in mind. Claire (Gotham Girl), is totally different; rather than be in control she inadvertently abrogated her point of view, her desires even, to suit others. Rather than dictate, Bruce allows for a period of contemplation which helps Claire ascertain her true course of action, whilst also giving the Dark Knight Detective a much needed breather for his own self reflection.
Tom King’s writing on Batman has been at times, as divisive as Scott Snyders. Both writers have a tendency to front load their stories, although King does manage to keep the conclusion as interesting as the beginning, even if at times the pace can feel padded with extra issues. As a one shot example, if you glanced through this book you would think nothing much happens, apart from the obvious. Upon further review, there are layers being pulled away from the psyche of Batman as Claire tries to understand her place her in new world. It is a fascinating exploration of the Batman and the reasons for what he does what he does, with the answer being more than a little surprising.
With the story emphasis focussed on internal conflict rather any external traditional bad guy, David Finch delivers a style of pin-up pieces in lieu of true story telling, looking for the best angles to show Batman and Gotham Girl. Finch’s Batman is dark and brooding and the juxtaposition between Batman and the almost coquettish Gotham Girl allows Finch to take them both to artistic ideals, the latter thankfully not falling into the realms of cheesecake even if on one panel early on, it appears that she is wearing two different shoes. Finch’s Catwoman displays a clear nod to what has gone before; the figure work alluding to the attraction between Cat and Bat. My only real reservation with the art in this book is the faces and the almost lack of emotion displayed at the conclusion. I may be a tad harsh on Finch; I mean in this book alone there are three inkers; Danny Miki, Clay Mann with Seth Mann; the result of which is an uneven finish to proceedings. Yes, I know it has been commented on how dark this book can look, but the mix between heavy and fine line inks is unsettling. I can almost understand it the change in inker coincided with the changes between day and night, but alas they don’t. Jordie Bellaire has a unique job in that she gets to color Gotham by day, surely a rarity!
Despite a lack of had copies of Batman #24 in the UK and the fact the conclusion was given away by the media and anyone with an itchy Twitter-finger, to dismiss this book as a gimmick would be fool hardy. The quality of the journey is more than up to the destination, even if at this point the destination is actually just a pit stop. I, for one welcome King’s attempt to give Bruce and alternative focus, to add a further layer of context to his actions, to possibly even contradict how Bruce reacts with the rest of his supporting cast. Of, course there will be questions; can you really tame a cat? Will this make Bruce more vulnerable? Should he lose Selina, how will this affect Batman and his war on crime? All great questions, to be sure and under King’s guidance we will have to see how this plays out.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 4.5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Written by TOM KING • Art and cover by DAVID FINCH and DANNY MIKI • Variant cover by TIM SALE