Batman #33

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Joëlle Jones
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Joëlle Jones
Publisher: DC Comics

A review by Nico Sprezzatura

Batman and Catwoman are getting married. Barring some unfortunate circumstance to befall them before they exchange vows, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle embark on a new chapter of their lives that begins in earnest with Batman #33.

I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to begin this review like that, since it kinda broke the internet a few weeks back, but God knows Tom King is some kind of a genius for taking The Dark Knight on this plunge. After decades upon decades of numerous writers putting their spin on him, anybody spearheading the main Batman title needs to go big or go home. And having Batman propose to Catwoman is probably the biggest development to happen to the character in recent memory.

Batman #33 is the beginning of a new arc — and the first after Selina said “yes”— so it’s an understatement to say this issue has some hype behind it. While their wedding is probably a long ways off from now, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some post-engagement superhero team-up action until then. While Selina accompanies Bruce on a commando mission to the nation of Khadym, Alfred breaks the news of their engagement to his surrogate sons (and Titus the Bat-Hound!) at Wayne Manor. It’s as enjoyable as it sounds.

Batman and Catwoman is one of the most iconic relationships in all of superhero lore, but as Spider-Man and Mary Jane as well as Black Panther and Storm will tell you, they don’t always get a happy ending. That’s why Bruce marrying Selina is genius — what does the embodiment of broody male angst (Bruce, obviously) look like when he’s… happy?

It’s a common opinion (one I don’t subscribe to) that happy characters are boring characters without conflict to work against, but, as King seems to understand, Batman being happy is something we’ve never seen. While reviewing “I Am Suicide”, I said King’s Batman is at its best when it’s weird, and if the idea of Batman getting married to Catwoman isn’t weird, then I don’t know what is.

I’ve been a big fan of Joëlle Jones’ work since her creator-owned Lady Killer from Dark Horse, so it’s pretty dang exciting to watch her tackle Batman for an entire arc. She recently illustrated Mariko Tamaki’s Supergirl: Being Super and provided covers for Marvel’s Mockingbird, but Batman is likely the biggest project her name has been attached to yet. I already knew what she could do before reading Batman #33, but now a whole bunch of other people will discover her talent for themselves. Jones especially excels at drawing women, so it’s a pretty convenient thing that this issue prominently features Catwoman, and… another female character I won’t spoil. Let’s just say it makes for a killer last-page cliffhanger.

There’s very much a feminine sensibility to Jones’ illustrations that pairs well with this new, uncharted chapter in Bruce’s life. That’s not to say she can’t draw action, obviously — Lady Killer is rather violent and bloody— but Batman #33 is heavier in conversation than fisticuffs, and she really nails the heightened sense of intimacy between Bruce and Selina. Catwoman is a character defined by her sensual demeanor; I’m just saying I wouldn’t hate a new Catwoman series written and/or drawn by Jones now. Make it happen, DC!

Stellar art aside, Jones’ work on this issue is significant for another reason. As Rogues Portal EIC Stephanie Cooke noted on Twitter this weekend, Batman #33 makes Jones one of only three female artists ever — alongside Becky Cloonan and Tula Lotay — to draw an issue of a comic bearing the Batman’s name since his introduction in 1939. (Afua Richardson was slated to draw an issue of All-Star Batman earlier this year, but an injury prevented her from doing so.) DC has been putting out good work in the Rebirth era, but their diversity stats are still a bit lacking; here’s hoping their core titles become a bit more inclusive moving forward. Putting Jones on the main Batman comic is a pretty good start.

While we’re on the subject of female creators on Batman, Jordie Bellaire returns to the title as colorist, and I don’t know if I can say anything about her work that hasn’t already been covered a thousand times over. Bellaire is just one of the best in the biz, period, and her colors are really good atop Jones’ art. 

And, as always, we have good lettering from Clayton Cowles. I feel like every other comic I review for this site has been lettered by Cowles, so I don’t really have much to say about his work other than that it’s good. Reliable guy, him.

The Verdict:
Buy it. 
With an exciting new status quo for the character and great art by Joëlle Jones, Batman #33 continues Tom King’s bold saga with the Dark Knight.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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