Batman’s Wedding


I bought into the hype, the news coverage, the coverage of the spoiler in the other coverage and all that stuff. I went to a comic shop and bought the special, first-print, non-alternate cover of “Batman #50,” aka the “Batman and Catwoman’s Wedding Issue.” And I bought the one before it, #49.

So first thing, about buying the one before it, I was foolish. Despite my (I think) higher-than-the-average-person knowledge of Batman things, I am below average compared to active comic book fans. I think. And I’m out of practice, because I somehow, foolishly, stupidly thought that the events of “Batman #49” would immediately line up to the events of “Batman #50.” They don’t. Of course they don’t. This is modern comic book storytelling, where the events of “Batman #49” get followed up by “Catwoman #31,” then “Justice League: Batman’s Cowl #6” and on and on. This will relate in a moment.

And that moment is now, because while there are clearly events happening prior to #49, and (as I’ve said) events after it, the actual COMIC BOOK in my hand (#49) is really good. The story is very simple: Joker crashes what looks to be the wedding rehearsal (again, not sure, because I don’t have that issue). He has already done the crashing, knocked out a few people and wrecked a church (I think). One of those people is Batman, but he’s left Catwoman for last. They have a bit of a showdown and they both attack, leaving the other mortally wounded. All of that happens by page 2. The rest of the story is them lying on the floor, bleeding out, having realized that they could kill the other one, but in order to do that, they would have to let go of their respective wounds, and they’d never survive.

So instead, they talk. Most times, this is something I cannot stand in comics. Modern comics is sick with them (“Modern” meaning “from the last 40 years”). Characters talk and talk and talk and talk and TALK when they should be taking action. They talk about action, but nothing really happens. I believe this is supposed to show “maturity,” but it almost always comes off as lazy.

Except for here. In #49, Joker and Catwoman are talking because they cannot act. Talking and bleeding is all they can do, so it’s almost all they do do. It’s a nice bit of having cake and eating it, too, but it’s well done. And it pays off in some way in the end. Which I’m going to spoil and critique and then forgive.

In the end, after hashing out a bunch of stuff about their mutual relationships with Batman, Joker and Catwoman finally come to the conclusion that Joker is the one who will act — he will sacrifice himself to try and kill Catwoman so that Batman can stay miserable and (in his mind) remain BATMAN. This is cool. Not to put it too much in my own terms, but it feels like a bit of a Leone or Elmore Leonard Western move. A lot of build up to one last gunshot moment. I appreciate it.

With that being said, I have to point out how they could have NAILED the moment and didn’t. Or maybe they did, but it seemed like they were going to. The Joker has released his wound, letting more blood flow in favor of reloading his gun. As he reloads/dies on his feet, he tells Catwoman that he does this stuff — killing people — so that Batman can stop him. He reloads, aims, and then falls collapses. A moment later Batman wakes up (off panel) and finds Catwoman victorious (or as victorious as someone with a mortal gunshot wound in the stomach can be).

I thought for sure Batman was going to wake up and kick the Joker down before he could get a shot off. I thought this because that’s the kind of thing that normally happens in Batman books, and because this particular Batman book TOLD me it would happen. But it didn’t. Instead, Joker just collapses. I get the feeling this was supposed to be a victory for Catwoman alone, on her own terms, and not have to be saved by Batman (or a man, for that matter). I get that, and I appreciate that. But it seems like the set-up was all leading toward having Batman save her. It feels like they wrote themselves into a corner, realized, “Oh, we’re just making Catwoman a damsel in distress,” and then backed away from it. The problem was you made her a damsel from the beginning. Still, it was cool. Solid.

“Batman #50” takes place. . . some time after #49? Like I said, I was confused and frustrated for a moment, but then the writers did a good job of making it a rather stand-alone issue. They probably had to, given the fact that this is such a momentous occasion, that the whole idea is to get Johnny No Comics to wander into a store and pick up ONE ISSUE, so it has to stand on its own. It does, for the most part. It has many references to the past, but they are more “legendary” than based on specific continuity. There are references to the first appearance of Catwoman in any comic whatsoever from the 1940’s, and mentions of them meeting in “Batman: Year One,” and some others like that, along with specific recent events that I have known about, skimmed, but not bought. It all kind of works, and it’s rather artfully done with a dual story of Catwoman on the left-hand pages, Batman on the right-hand.

So good for them. Those guys know their stuff.


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