Batman #78 focus on Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s relationship was a double edged sword. Tom King shows that his writing shines when writing Bruce and Selina together. Even after everything that happened between them the chemistry Bruce and Selina share cannot be questioned. While that was a major strength of the previous issue, where King faltered with Batman #78 was progressing the actual “City of Bane” storyline. There was no progress made on that front, even after delivering several major moments in the first three parts of “City of Bane.” Will Batman #79 show greater progression now that Bruce and Selina are back together? Let’s find out with Batman #79.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Inkers: Clay Mann and Seth Mann
Colorist: Tomey Morey
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime ago Bruce Wayne runs into Selina Kyle in a street filled with strip clubs and other XXX locations.
In the present Bruce finds Selina sitting along the beach. Selina mentions that Magpie is selling her stolen Venom in a few days on a nearby mountain.
Later Selina is helping Bruce workout by doing her own workout while he does one-handed push-ups. As they do that Selina keeps on pushing how their meeting (which Selina says happened shortly after Dick Grayson became Robin) on the boat happened after they met on the streets as themselves without their costumes.
A little later Bruce and Selina sit at the bar while listening to the news report of Gotham Girl defeating Captain Atom. The news goes on to say that the President is hailing the current end of endless crime as a new era of urban piece. They go on to say that there are reports slipping by about people being enslaved, criminals running Gotham City and people being tortured with a sadistic Batman (Flashpoint Thomas Wayne) leading these acts.
A random guy speaks up saying that there is nothing controversial about what is happening in Gotham City and that “Batman” actually stopping doing nothing for a change. Selina knocks the guy out for all the crap he is talking.
Bruce and Selina get back to their room. Selina comments on how everyone sees Gotham City as a flood of chaos and now they are just ignoring it because it is instead rotting away quietly. She goes on to say it looks like only they care about what is really going on. Bruce comments on how beautiful Selina is. Selina wonders why Bruce isn’t saying that taking back Gotham City is his job. Bruce just continues to say Selina is beautiful so Selina says that tomorrow they start kicking ass.
At a convenience store a guy wearing a luchador mask tries to rob the place. He is stopped by Batman and Catwoman, who easily take him out.
Batman and Catwoman then go on to fight crime throughout the city they are in, including stopping Knockout, for the rest of the day.
As the sun sets Batman says that he just got a signal that Alfred is safe so he is sending Damian in (explaining why Damian went against Tim Drake’s orders in Batman #77). Batman admits he wishes they could stay where they are. Catwoman says that they will just have to keep fighting together to save the people that are hurting. Batman and Catwoman each say “I love you” to each other.
Later that night Batman and Catwoman sneak onto a yacht. As they take out all the guards Batman mentions how he always forgets to compliment on how good of a fighter Catwoman is.
They eventually reach Magpie and quickly knock her down. Catwoman tells Magpie her sale of Venom is done so she should go home. Catwoman then takes Magpie’s necklace.
Magpie snarkingly asks Catwoman if they have a message for Bane. Catwoman laughs by saying that “He is Batman. I am Catwoman. We are the message.”
The next day, Selina mentions the diamonds from Magpie’s necklace are the ones Bruce caught her stealing a long time ago. Bruce says she can’t keep those diamonds.
Bruce talks about how how she dragged him out of the gutter and gave him love and hope but he still won’t let her keep a little diamond. Selina comments on how Bruce is no fun.
Bruce then thanks Selina. Selina that this is what love is.
Bruce then finally admits that they did in fact meet on the streets before his idea of Batman was fully formed. He goes on to say that once he fully became Batman they met again on the boat for the first time as Bat and Cat.
Bruce then says that after all that has happened he can be more than Batman and the vow he made. He goes on maybe they can meet again here on the beach
Bruce and Selina walk together on the beach and both agree they met on the beach. Selina then says that Bane is in trouble now. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #79 puts an end of this interlude story about Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle fully solidifying their relationship. When taking it as just that single sub-plot Tom King succeeds with Batman #79. Unfortunately that success only goes to highlight how these two chapters of King’s run have taken away all of the momentum away from “City of Bane.”
For fans of King’s work in developing Bruce and Selina’s relationship Batman #79 works on pushing them forward together. The key here is that they are moving forward together rather than apart. King dedicates all the time of this interlude to getting this fully solidified in Bruce and Selina’s mind. He does this as having both characters admit that they are two people who have been so focused on being individuals that they never let themselves be comfortable in a relationship long term.
That is the most fascinating part of how King develops Bruce and Selina together. Even though Selina is the one that is pushing Bruce to accept where they are she is also talking to herself. The state of their relationship before Batman #78 and Batman #79 falls on both of them equally. Now getting the time together alone, for the most part, they were able to face this fact together in their own way.
Selina giving Bruce a reality check in this way was a very good way to explain why Bruce was relatively quiet. Bruce’s dialogue until the end of Batman #79 was kept to a minimum to compliment what Selina was saying. Through his dialogue King was able to get across how Bruce was not only taking everything Selina was saying in but also thinking of what he should do next both as Batman and Bruce Wayne.
Which brings up the story of how Bruce and Selina met that King has pushed throughout his run. Getting a resolution on this back-and-forth that Bruce and Selina have shared was a welcome conclusion. Bruce admitting that Selina was right that they met on the streets before meeting on the boat as Batman and Catwoman spoke to who the character was.
Since his parents death it has been said that Batman is the real person while Bruce Wayne has been the mask. Bruce admitting the truth about the two meetings speaks to this as the meeting on the streets was just the fake person Bruce was being while Batman has been who he really has been, even before he wore the cape and cowl.
This all makes the final pages even more powerful with Bruce and Selina agreeing their new “first” meeting is on a beach goes beyond a meeting. It is now about these two together and Bruce going beyond just believing himself to be Batman. Both Bruce Wayne and Batman are coexisting people with neither one being the mask. Selina’s acceptance to what Bruce said spoke to the impact of Bruce’s words and how solid their relationship is now.
With how character focus this interlude story was Clay Mann was easily the standout of these two issues. Batman #79 once again showed how strong Mann’s artwork is when he is drawing characters simply talking with each other. Every piece of dialogue is enhanced by how Mann compliments what King is writing. And in the action montage Mann is able to display his storytelling abilities by putting over all the things Batman and Catwoman were doing together in fighting crime.
The Bad: As much work as King puts into solidifying the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle there is a lot of going around in circles in Batman #79. A lot of Bruce and Selina’s dialogue is the same dialogue King wrote for them in the second half of Batman #78. The previous issue already established that Bruce and Selina reaffirmed their love for each other. The only actual development on this front was at the very end when Bruce admitted to Selina the truth about their first meeting.
What hurt all the progression that King makes you believe happened was that Batman #79, like the previous issue, treated the “City of Bane” storyline as an afterthought. There was no importance given to the ramifications of Bane, Flashpoint Batman and other villains taking over Gotham City.
Even when King has a news report running about what is going on in Gotham City it is treated more like background noise rather than adding depth to the effects of “City of Bane.” What especially hurt the news report scene was that it was simply a recap of what happened in the first three chapters for “City of Bane.” We already knew that the President and the rest of the US government approved of the status quo Bane created for Gotham City. All the information provided would only be new if you for whatever reason did not read the first three chapters of “City of Bane.”
What hurt the way King integrated the “City of Bane” storyline in the developments of Bruce and Selina’s relationship was how nothing about their mission to stop Magpie actually felt urgent. After being introduced in Batman #75 as a character to watch out for, Magpie turned out to be worth nothing more than a single page to take down. Her appearance held zero importance to how this issue turned out. The only role she ended up serving for the “City of Bane” story was to give Batman and Catwoman a villain who could serve up a bunch of henchmen for them to punch.
This is such a shame because King could made the stop to Bane’s source of Venom be integral to turning things around in “City of Bane” when Batman and Catwoman return to Gotham City. But the fact is until this interlude story King never said that Bane needed a new source of Venom to keep his control of Gotham City going. That should’ve been something that was set-up before this interlude story to make Batman and Catwoman’s mission on the island have a sense of importance.
Which all once again speaks to how the lack of Bane in the “City of Bane” continues to hurt this event that King has built do. The only role Bane has serve up until now was to snap Alfred Pennyworth’s neck. Outside of that the heavy lifting for “City of Bane” has been done by Flashpoint Batman. If King truly wanted to make the stop of the Venom supply or other things Batman and Catwoman were doing away from Gotham City we should’ve seen more of Bane than we have. Without that we don’t know if Bane became weaker because of what happened in this interlude.
Making things even more questionable is the fact this interlude story takes place during the period of Batman #76 and Batman #77. That is very odd placement since we saw Bruce and Selina doing things in the middle of those issues. Seeing Bruce and Selina in those issues made it seem like they were in France at the same time things were going down in the first three chapters of “City of Bane.”
All of this once again highlights one of the biggest problems King keeps running into. He does a horrible job giving a sense of time for things that happen in the same issue. That leaves things like Bruce revealing he sent Damian in to save Alfred something that is head scratching. The jump in time does not make sense. It all just comes across as King making edits to his own story after the fact rather than seamlessly going between one issue to another.
Making this even more disappointing was how it could’ve been easily avoided by having Bane and Flashpoint Batman make a quick appearance in this issue. All King had to do was show that Bane or Flashpoint Batman sent out the signal that Alfred was safe. This would’ve made complete sense since Bane and Flashpoint Batman have complete control of Gotham City, including the Batcave. If they sent the signal it would’ve added to how they wanted to use Damian as an example to the rest of the Batman Family to stay away from Gotham City.
Labeling Batman #79 as the fifth chapter of “City of Bane” further hurts how this is not really an interlude story. If it was than King and his editing team should not label Batman #78 and Batman #79 as official chapters in the storyline. Its little things like this that hurt the perception of this story actually being an interlude storyline. But by being labeled as official chapters to “City of Bane” this being called an interlude story comes across as an excuse to explain the lack of urgency in these two issues.
Overall: If this interlude was a standalone story, Batman #79 could’ve been seen as a great arc that showed how Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s love has evolved. Unfortunately too much time was wasted on recycled dialogue, giving almost zero progression to the “City of Bane” event. Given all that has gone down in Gotham City, the lack of urgency throughout Batman #79 is deeply disappoint. At this point, the faster Batman and Catwoman return to Gotham City the better King’s overall “City of Bane” event will be in the long-term.
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