Batman #50 Review

Batman #50 Review

After several months of build up that included tie-in mini-series comics the wedding of Batman and Catwoman is finally here. This is something that Tom King has built his run thus far around. As a Batman fan this is a moment that I never thought we would get in-continuity. Sure we’ve seen Batman married to Catwoman and other love interests in other timelines but having it happen within the current DC Universe continuity is a big deal. Am I afraid that King and DC may not go through with it? Sure, but King has built enough trust and credibility that I believe in whatever ride this Batman and Catwoman wedding taking us on in the future. Now let’s see how things turn out with Batman #50.

Writer: Tom King

Artists: Mikel Janin, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Becky Cloonan, Jason Fabok, Frank Miller, Lee Bermejo, Neal Adams, Tony S. Daniel, Amanda Conner, Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kubert, Tim Sale, Paul Pope, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Ty Templeton, Joelle Jones, David Finch, Jim Lee, Greg Capullo and Lee Weeks

Colorists: June Chung, Trish Mulvihill, Brad Anderson, Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi, Tomeu Morey, Paul Mounts, Jose Villarrubia, Jordie Bellaire, Keiren Smith, Scott Williams and FCO Placencia

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: While taking out Kite Man, Batman suggest that he and Catwoman get married at dawn on the rooftop they are on with one witness each to watch. Catwoman says that sounds perfect.

Batman #50 Review

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At Porky’s bar Batman picks up Judge Wolfman who is getting drunk after a long day.

At Arkham Asylum Catwoman speaks with Holly Robinson that she made arrangements for her to be moved to another cell and during the transfer she has something planned. One of the officers then begins the transfer of Holly’s cell.

Just then Batman and Catwoman stop  Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who split off while trying to escaping from Arkham Asylum.

A little later, at the west wing of Wayne Manor, Catwoman brings Holly, blindfolded, into one of the studies. Catwoman says while she knows that Holly learned Bruce’s secret back when they both figured it out Bruce would’ve killed her if she Holly discovered the secret way into the manor. After taking off the blindfold Holly is shocked at how big Bruce’s house is.

At the east wing of Wayne Manor, Batman and Alfred leave the Batcave. Bruce tells Alfred that he and Selina will be getting married in secret and that Judge Wolfman is so drunk he won’t even remember marrying them. Alfred wonders where the wedding will be held. Bruce says on a rooftop because it is where they met.

Over in the Englehart Bedroom, Holly helps Selina put the finishing touches on Selina’s wedding dress.

At the same time, in the Conway Bedroom, Alfred helps Bruce get his suit on. Bruce comments that he feels like he looks like his father. Alfred happily agrees.

Batman #50 Review

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In the Fox Hall, Bruce and Selina leave their sides of Wayne Manor and have one final kiss before the wedding in the middle of the hall.

Back in the Englehart Bedroom Holly tells Selina she still can’t believe that Bruce is Batman. Selina asks if he isn’t what she thought. Holly says she can’t believe Bruce could find happiness as he seemed to need his misery to be Batman.

Back in the Conway Bedroom Alfred asks Bruce who his witness will be, Dick Grayson or Clark Kent. Bruce says Alfred because he has been with him since the beginning. Alfred is touched and they hug each other.

In the car Holly asks Selina if she is okay. Selina admits she wrote a letter for Bruce, the first letter she has written to him since Arkham when they confessed to each other. Selina then says she still has a lot to tell Bruce but it is tough with the lives they lead.

Selina then wonders if she is a hero. Holly says Selina is a hero and that after all that happened she has to be.

On the expressway Alfred asks Bruce if he is okay. Bruce admits he wrote Selina a letter as he wants to tell her everything but they don’t have time to.

Bruce asks Alfred if he can be happy. Alfred replies by saying that after everything he’s endured he has to in order to go on to another day.

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On Kane Plaza, Selina sits alone after leaving Bruce a note. She throws her veil to the side and jumps off the building.

Over on Finger Tower, after leaving a note to Selina, Bruce realizes she is not coming. Bruce jumps off the building knowing that Selina is not coming to their private wedding.

In Arkham Asylum, Holly returns to the facility and walks to one of the cells. She enters the cell where Riddler, Joker, Psycho Pirate, Gotham Girl, Ventriloquist, Scarface, Hugo Strange, Skeets and Flashpoint Batman with Bane sitting on top of throne of skulls is awaiting her. Holly kneels down and Bane proclaims “The Bat is broken.” End of issue.  

The Good: The execution of a creative team’s story makes or breaks a comic book. The execution of a story is given even greater importance when it comes to a major turning point event like two characters getting married. That is something that Tom King clearly understood with how he laid out the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in Batman #50. King’s careful decision making with each story beat proves to be what becomes the strength of Batman #50. Though not every story decision King makes, as careful as it may have been, goes over as intended.

From the opening to closing page King makes one thing clear: Batman loves Catwoman, and vice versa. These two characters who have been playing the “will they, won’t they” game for decades are truly in love. King plays with that fact by incorporating other artists like Joelle Jones, Jim Lee and Frank Miller to present the love story between the two crossing between space and time. There is a sense that these two are magnetically drawn to each other no matter how long they are away from each other.

Batman #50 Review

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That magnetism makes the end result that King gives us with Selina Kyle leaving Bruce Wayne at the altar an even more powerful statement of where they currently are. While they love each other neither was actually ready to actually be married. King establishes this from the opening page of Batman #50 with Batman telling Catwoman that they should hold a private wedding with only two witnesses. On top of that Bruce goes out of his way to get a judge that was so drunk out of his mind he would not remember marrying the two.

Bruce convincing Selina to go this route for their wedding after months of talking about what their lives would be like together is a bigger reason why it didn’t happen than Holly Robinson’s words. By doing this King made Holly’s talk with Selina before driving off the nail in the coffin for why they should not get married right now. Selina’s reaction to those words and what she said in her letter as she realized she can’t risk taking what makes Bruce Batman right now an even greater sacrifice.

Holly’s words to Selina made some of the flashback pages to Batman and Catwoman’s time together work in conjunction with the main story. Because the reality is as it stands right now their relationship is based on being Batman and Catwoman. Even when we did see Bruce and Selina together without their costumes they never actually went out in public together. All their adventures together during King’s build-up of their relationship showed them as Batman and Catwoman. That included the date night with Lois and Clark where they ended up in halloween costumes when going on an actual date in public.

Combining that with how Bruce wanted to hold a small, private ceremony showed he is not ready to give up being Batman for Selina. Bruce still defines himself as Batman and made decisions that would hide their lives from the public. That is just not the right way to do things for someone like Bruce, who is one of the most public figures in Gotham City and the DC Universe as a whole. Even if they would have gone through with the wedding it would not have been built on a foundation that lasted because Bruce and Selina’s relationship would be kept a secret in a time when secrets are becoming harder and harder to keep. That’s especially the case for a marriage that would be heavily scrutinize due to Bruce’s public presence.

Batman #50 Review

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All of this gives King something to build off on as he now can explore who Batman actually is. For a long time we saw that Batman was possibly a mantle that Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Terry McGinnis or someone else could pick up. But now with this failed wedding and what Selina said in her letter maybe it is time to possibly think of Batman as an idea in which that inspires but not something someone else should wear the cowl of. For Bruce that will mean discovering if he is comfortable finally leaving Nightwing, Batgirl and others to carry on his ideals as the protectors of Earth in his place.

This also plays hand in hand with the King’s narrative throughout his run of Bruce has questioned if he can be happy. That is something that Bruce clearly convince himself he can be by going through with the marriage to Selina. Unfortunately for Bruce, while he convinced himself of that he did make decisions that are counter to that belief. Now Bruce will have to discover what he really wants in life and what it actually means to be happy for himself rather than asking Alfred or others if he can reach that point.

Along with that fascinating idea King also sets the stage for an even greater Batman story as we found out that Holly’s dialogue was all part of Bane’s plot to break the Batman. This was an excellent ending to conclude Batman #50 as now we can see who will play a major role in King’s run moving forward. This ending worked to elevate all those present in the final page, most of all Bane who once again succeeded in breaking Batman.

It also gives the reader a reason to go back and read every issue of King’s run to see all the clues as to how Riddler, Joker, Psycho Pirate, Gotham Girl, Ventriloquist, Scarface, Hugo Strange and Flashpoint Batman all played a role in how Bane broke Batman. Just from that line-up alone it makes you wonder if we’ve all been played by Bane from the beginning given that we see Gotham Girl, Skeets and Flashpoint Batman among the group gather. Flashpoint Batman is the most interesting part of the group since his presence is the biggest head scratcher of how he is even there. His presence also makes you wonder what it means for things like Doomsday Clock and other Multiverse things Batman is involved with.

Batman #50 Review

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Given all of the big reveals that Batman #50 has it is easy to overlook other things King did in this issue. One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is how King used Batman #50 to further establish the strength of Bruce and Alfred’s relationship. Bruce choosing Alfred as his witness is incredibly meaningful as it showed that no matter what they’ve been through they are the most important people to each other’s lives. And with how things went down for Selina, Alfred’s presence in Bruce’s life will be even more important for the immediate future of King’s run.

Mikel Janin’s artwork for the present day part of Batman #50 was at the top of his game. Janin does an absolutely wonderful job showing how magical the wedding is for Bruce and Selina with the way he drew them. Janin did an even better job turning this magical day into one where reality set in for Bruce and Selina as the latter realized what she should actually do. The sadness in Selina’s expression, along with how Bruce reacted to being left at the altar, was perfectly done.

The additional artwork provided by an all-star cast of artists for Batman and Catwoman’s letters was well done. Not all of them hit as intended, more on that in a bit, but when they did it work extremely well. That is especially the case Clay Mann and Joelle Jones contributions that were timed perfectly with what was going on before their respective splash pages took place.

The Bad: As much as I enjoyed Batman #50 for how it builds off all of King’s previous work on this series and creates a foundation for the next 50 issues it does not work as a new reader friendly issue. This absolutely can’t be a your first comic in King’s run. The hook of Batman and Catwoman’s failed wedding will not land like as it is intended without having knowledge of what has been going up to this point.

Batman #50 Review

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That lack of knowledge will definitely make readers jumping onto King’s run with Batman #50 feel cheated. That cheated feeling comes down to the hype that was built around this issue. For several months DC Comics has built this up as the definitive wedding of Batman and Catwoman through marketing material and tie-in mini-series. While it does build towards a greater narrative, I won’t fault fans who felt like the rug was taken from under them since they were sold on one thing that would happen and got something different. This will be especially frustrating for those who bought the Batman: Prelude to the Wedding mini-series as this choice does make those comics not have actual importance, rather they are now purely cash grabs.

From a story execution standpoint it was odd to see that Bruce make a last minute decision to have a secret wedding. It would be one thing if Bruce wanted to elope. That would have been more reasonable. But for Bruce to push a secret wedding at the last minute did come off as out of character from the person we’ve come to know Bruce to be since being together with Selina. The secret wedding angle should have been built up to more than it was, especially given how much time we’ve seen pass since the engagement happened.

Now while I appreciate King and DC Comics bringing in so many phenomenal artists to contribute to Batman #50 the majority of them did not work to make the story better. The artwork by everyone was definitely great to look at as each piece was to the high standard each artist has set for themselves. The problem with most of these moments provided by all the artists is that they looked like they were variant covers with thought bubbles added to them. It would’ve been much more effective if we would’ve seen half these artist contributions be a splash page while the other half be actual comic panels with a full page sequence.

Batman #50 Review

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These different artist renditions of Batman and Catwoman’s history also felt like it broke up the momentum of the Bruce and Selina going through their wedding day. It would have been much more effective if we got these letter segments after the wedding did not happen. That way it would have been clear that what we were reading was Bruce and Selina’s respective letters to each other. This would in turn make the ending even more effective as the idea why Selina didn’t go through with the wedding would have been at the top of the mind once we got to the final page.

Overall: With Batman #50 Tom King builds the foundation for what the future of his run on this series will be built on. Throughout this issue King does a very good job getting over why the events that occurred took place, especially with who was behind it all at the end. Now the actual effectiveness of Batman #50 will hinder on if you have been reading King’s run from the beginning. If you haven’t it is tough to recommend Batman #50 being your starting point. You will get much more out of the events of Batman #50 if you go back and read King’s run in its entirety up to this point. It will be well worth it and get you excited for Batman’s future.