Batman #49 Review: Catwoman Vs. Joker

In case you haven’t heard, Batman and Catwoman are getting married. It’s hard to believe, but writer Tom King has been making the idea work. You can image how tricky it could be to make this union happen as a comic book writer and within the characters’ fictional world. When Joker somehow finds out, there’s no telling what might happen next.

In the previous issue, Batman tracked down Joker as he was terrorizing another wedding taking place in Gotham City. Unfortunately for the bride and groom (and everyone attending), he ended killing just about everyone. With one last hostage, Joker began a conversation with the Dark Knight. This ended with Joker getting the upper hand–sort of. Despite being told to stay out of it, Catwoman has arrived to help Batman.

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Batman #49 cover by Mikel Janin.

With the set up for a battle between Catwoman and Joker, it’s easy to image the different ways this fight could go. Catwoman fights with a deadly grace while Joker is a bag of unpredictable chaos. The two have a lot vested in this fight, and it’s time to cut loose.

Have these two ever really fought before? They’ve never had a reason quite like this one. With this moment, King approaches the confrontation carefully. Comic readers are given exactly what they want. The two go at each other with the kid gloves off. For Catwoman, her future with Batman is at stake. For Joker, he simply wants what he believes he deserves.

As seen in the preview pages, it doesn’t go too well for either. It may seem a little spoilery on DC Comics’ part to release these images for the issue. It just shows there’s a lot more to the battle than your typical comic book fisticuffs. The two are left in vulnerable positions. Each must carefully decide what their next move will be.

With the issue far from over, we get to witness more insight between the two. King never takes the easy route when telling a story. With Mikel Janin’s gorgeous art and June Chung’s brilliant colors, this could have easily been twenty pages of over-the-top fighting. Instead, King lays out a deeply intriguing conversation between the two wounded combatants. Janin and Chung amazingly execute these pages as well.

This is the sort of Batman story I’m finding myself craving these days. Perhaps it’s the length of time I’ve been reading comic, but I find I don’t need comics with summer blockbuster/popcorn-eating imagery. A well written and crafted story makes the issue memorable. With all the hubbub over the coming nuptials, it’s these stories leading up to the big moment that grab my attention. Will the wedding actually happen? Will it last? It’s easy to let go of these questions as you become immersed in the current happenings in each story. To make a stunning issue even better, we get a crazy cliffhanger that will make you say, “Oh crap…” aloud.

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Batman #49 variant cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau.

Batman #49 is a great example how to make a fight between two comic book characters interesting and unpredictable. King, Janin, and Chung do a superb job executing the battle but also add a ton of layers to the adversaries. The results is a fascinating look at both Joker and Catwoman and what sets them apart from the other Bat-villains. Not only do we see them unleash upon each other, we also see the aftermath of the fight. King’s Batman stories keep me riveted because there’s so much substance in each issue. The breathtaking visuals that accompany the stories are an astounding addition. I have to read each issue more than once–only because I don’t want them to end.

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