The key that unlocked the true potential of Tom King’s run on Batman was the romance between Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle. Both their superhero and civilian identities are at play, and now that the characters are engaged, they have to seriously consider what it will mean to bring their separate lives together. King just wrapped up a four-part storyline with Joëlle Jones pitting the couple against Batman’s ex (and the mother of his son), and bringing Bruce’s two sons into the mix solidified this family dynamic, setting up a complex web of relationships waiting to be explored.
And then there’s this week’s Batman Annual #2. It’s flat-out incredible. King writes an exciting, cheeky early Batman and Catwoman story that becomes a major tearjerker by the final page, and the artwork is perfectly aligned with the tonal shift of the story. Artist Lee Weeks and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser have never worked together before, but they should never be apart given how well Breitweiser’s expressive, textured coloring fits Weeks’ rich linework and dynamic layouts. They’re an outstanding pair for a flashback driven by old-school superhero thrills, and when the story takes a turn that puts the characters in a more intimate context, Michael Lark and colorist June Chung bring the visuals to a more subtle, quieter place.
King has gotten to work some remarkable visual storytellers on this book, including colorist Jordie Bellaire, who has elevated the work of more conventional superhero artists like David Finch and Clay Mann. Her coloring is understated because there’s already so much drama in the linework, and she helps bring the visuals down to earth. She’s working with Mann (and inker Seth Mann) again on the new “Superfriends” arc, which looks at how Bruce’s major life change affects his friendship with Superman. This exclusive preview of next week’s Batman #36 opens with Superman and Lois talking about how Bruce hasn’t called to talk about his new engagement, and the creative team packs a lot of plot and a lot of character in these pages.
This excerpt features some very swift storytelling, starting with how quickly King establishes the different definitions of “busy” for Lois and Clark. The stakes are way higher for Clark as he stops a moving train from falling into a giant hole in the ground, but that doesn’t make Lois’ work any less important as she looks into what caused the giant hole and prepares the story that will go out to the public. Superman’s action is depicted with intensity and speed while Lois sits at a desk covered in clutter that reflects her demanding workload. Alternating between Lois and Clark’s perspectives makes the conversation more energetic, and it ends up tying visually Superman to Batman when the action jumps from Lois to the Dark Knight soaring above Gotham City, whining about why he needs to be the friend who picks up the phone first.