It seems like all I review is Tom King’s work and for the most part that’s not intentional, even though King is my favorite writer, it’s because there is a certain emotion that his work invokes that makes me want to discuss his stories. I want to discuss the little details or callbacks, I want to discuss the meta questions he asks, I want to discuss his dialogue choices, I want to discuss his collaboration with the artist, his work is important for the medium and Batman Annual #2 maybe the perfect example of that.
The best thing about King’s run on Batman so far is without a doubt been the relationship between Batman & Catwoman. I honestly never cared about it before, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it or wasn’t supportive of the back and forth, but I was never given a reason as to why their relationship mattered, until now. King has given us a reason to care about this relationship. “Bat and Cat” gives Bruce the opportunity he has NEVER had, the chance to move on from the tragedy of his parent’s death and to let himself be happy.
What makes this issue work, and in my opinion what King excels at, is bringing the story full circle. It’s easier to do this in a one-shot story versus a long form series because there is a definitive beginning, middle and end to the issue which allows story tellers like King to control the medium. King does this so well through the opening scene of the issue, the song Alfred is singing while cleaning, and dialogue choices, small things that while progressing through the story don’t catch your eye until the moment they are all brought round again. Doing this takes advantage of the medium, and when executed like it is within this issue you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion.
The art fits the narrative. It goes without saying that the art is beautiful, just like Mitch Gerads did with the Rooftops story arc, Lee Weeks style translates perfectly to the tone of the story. It’s striking and draws me into the story, the flow during the chases are clear to the reader from panel to panel, and while King does a great job with written queues, the emotion is driven home by the art. Not to mention I love the way Weeks draws the old Catwoman Suit.
This issue is the story of what could be for Bruce, a glimpse of the past with the “Cat and Mouse” game between the two, the development of their beginnings, then a flash forward to the future and the life they have gotten to live together happily and content until Bruce finally does get the “good death” his parents would actually be proud of, surrounded by loved ones, dying peacefully in his bed next to his wife.
It’s hard to do this issue service through a review whether it’s the writing or the art. This maybe my favorite single issue ever written, and no, that’s not hyperbole. THIS IS THE ENDING BRUCE DESERVES. Go read this story, for the most part it’s self-contained with some nods to King’s run and Batman lore sprinkled throughout but the focus of the story stays on the relationship between Bruce and Selina. No matter what happens in the future or if all of King’s run gets retconned to hell, this will always be the ending that I give for Bruce in my head, it’s perfect.
Batman Annual #2 10/10