Tom King is coming off his best Batman story arc to date. With the conclusion of “War of Jokes and Riddles” we found out Selina Kyle’s answer to Bruce Wayne’s marriage proposal was a definitive “Yes.” Now with Bruce and Selina moving forward with their engagement it is time for the rest of the Batman Family to find out about the engagement. Though that may be the easiest thing that Bruce and Selina will probably have to do as there are sure to be major walls placed between them and when they say their vows to one another. Will King give us an idea of what those walls will be immediately? Let’s find out with Batman #33.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Joelle Jones
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the middle of the desert Catwoman is forced to kill her horse since it has passed out due to exhaustion and lack of water. She gets on Batman’s horse and they continue riding through the desert since they still have another fifteen hours to travel to their destination.
Back in Gotham City, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne and Duke Thomas are sitting in the Wayne Manor’s study after being called over by Alfred. Jason and Ace getting into a tug of war with Jason’s jacket. Alfred enters the study and puts a stop to the tug-of-war.
Batman and Catwoman arrive at their destination to meet up with Tiger. Batman requests to be taken to Khadym. Tiger says that Khadym is a place that does not welcome superheroes. Batman mentions how Dick Grayson told him that Tiger is the best intel man there is. Tiger agrees to take Batman to Khadym. As they walk Tiger says Dick Grayson is an idiot.
Back at Wayne Mansion, Alfred tells everyone that Bruce has left on an illegal mission. Dick, Duke, Jason and Damian all wonder what secret Bruce is keeping from them now. Alfred turns around to reveal that Bruce and Selina are engaged much to everyone’s surprise.
At the entrance of Khadym the guard tells Tiger he will not open the gate for Batman. Catwoman tells Batman that she will deal with things. Catwoman approaches the guard and takes out her whip. Batman winces at what he sees Catwoman do offscreen.
Back at Wayne Mansion, Alfred gets a call from Superman, who is looking for Batman’s help. Alfred says that Batman is currently out of action after a fight with Scarecrow.
After hanging up Alfred says that Superman told him that the Justice League received a report about an unauthorized incursion into Khadym.
Back at the entrance of Khadym the guard has been beaten down by Catwoman. Batman, Catwoman and Tiger head inside.
As they walk through the cave Tiger mentions that there are three rules in Khadym. Batman says he knows them because he wrote them. Tiger then reminds Batman that while no one will follow them in that the UN military and Justice League will be waiting for them outside of Khadym when they exit. Batman says he is not worried about his Super-Friends given that they have to worry more about if they will leave alive.
At Wayne Manor, Jason blames Duke for not keeping an eye on Bruce as the new Robin. Duke reminds Jason that he is not Robin, that role is actually still Damian’s.
Damian says he knows that and feels like it is his fault all this is happening. Dick tells him that it is not his fault. He then asks Damian if he knows anything about what Bruce is up to. Damian reveals that before his father can marry Selina he must have a “meeting” with his mother, Talia Al Ghul, who also happens to be in Khadym.
In her room, Talia gets up from a bed filled with men and women. She is informed by one of her guards that Batman has arrived in Khadym. Talia tells her guards to prepare her swords. End of issue.
The Good: Coming off the high of “War of Jokes and Riddles” Batman #33 delivered exactly what was needed. It slowed things down for the series while spotlighting one of the biggest developments in Batman’s recent history: Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s engagement. With this focus Tom King sets the stage for a story that could have massive impact across the Batman franchise.
With Batman #33 King starts putting over how in order to move forward with their engagement that Bruce and Selina must take a step back to get through a major hurdle. Setting that major hurdle as Talia Al Ghul was a fantastic choice. In getting Talia involved in the matter King is instantly able to play up the history Bruce has with Talia. Along with that, King also brings in the family aspect of the character given that they have a son together.
Damian Wayne may be the biggest wild card in all this. Because as we have seen, since taking on the mantle of Robin Damian has become more part of the Wayne family that Bruce has built. So seeing his reaction to his father’s engagement to Selina was something to look forward to and King did not disappoint. It’s clear that getting Damian to accept her won’t be easy for Selina. At the same time his love for his father could trump any animosity for Selina. If that is the case then where he stands now that he knows his parents are about to clash once again will be very interesting to see.
Going back to Bruce and Selina again, it was good to see that King is treating their relationship in a much more adult way as they tackle the trip to Khadym together. This is good example of how far Bruce has come in balancing his life as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Now he knows if this upcoming marriage to Selina will work he has to tackle things together. Going to Khadym together is a show of that. Letting Selina take out the guard taking care of the entrance was also a fun vote of confidence that the two have for one another.
Adding to this journey is the fact that Khadym is a place that Batman and Catwoman aren’t supposed to be in. And now by going to this place Batman and Catwoman have put themselves in a position where they can face greater consequences if they end up surviving the journey. It goes to further emphasis how important this mission is for both characters that they would risk putting themselves at odds with the UN and Justice League.
As a nice touch of continuity King’s use of Tiger “King of Kandahar” added some much needed context to the situation. Given that King was one of the character’s creators, Tiger was given plenty of time to show off his personality for those unfamiliar with who he is. The shade he throws at Nightwing’s way was fun way to continue the animosity that exists between the two characters.
Joelle Jones delivered some solid artwork for King’s story in Batman #33. Jones got across how big this adventure Batman and Catwoman are. She also nailed the shocked reaction of the Batman Family when they received the big news. It all nicely built to the final scene as we get a good sense of the dangers that are coming up with Talia Al Ghul facing off against Batman and Catwoman in some form.
The Bad: The one disappointing part of Batman #33 is that we did not see Barbara Gordon in the scene with the rest of the Batman Family. She has been part of the Batman Family for a long time and should’ve been there with everyone when Alfred made the announcement. Her omission was noticeable that seems to keep her at arms length for no apparent reason while Duke Thomas, who is a recent addition to the family, gets to be there with everyone. It makes you wonder if there is a bigger reason for why Barbara and Kate Kane, Bruce’s blood related cousin, aren’t told about the engagement.
Overall: Batman #33 is a solid start to the new arc that pushes the engagement of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle forward. Their journey that eventually leads them to Talia Al Ghul’s location is made even more important by the implications of all the possible consequences. Those consequences make what happens next a bigger mystery as Tom King explores Bruce and Selina’s evolving relationship.