Comic Review: ‘Batman’ #36

Tom King dives deep into the heart of DC Comics’ most complex and enduring friendship…

Batman 36

Clay Mann’s striking cover for DC’s ‘Batman’  #36 (image belongs: DC).

Written by:  Tom King / pencils by:  Clay Mann / inks by:  Seth Mann / Colours by:  Jordie Bellaire

What’s it about?

“Superfriends” Part One : for many years Batman and Superman have fought alongside each other and even against each other…with Bruce Wayne’s engagement to Selina Kyle, the two heroes explore what they truly mean to one another…

In review

Whilst there has been an absence of an ongoing Batman/Superman title during DC’s Rebirth (now rebranded under the ‘DC Universe’ banner) both characters have still played a part in each other’s storylines as well as appearing together in the likes of Justice League and Trinity.  The history and dynamics of the relationship between DC’s Dark Knight and Man of Steel is a complex one, both fight for justice but their methods somewhat differ as do their morals – this has often lead to conflict between the two characters but there’s always been the notion that their core values are in alignment and a sense that they share an unspoken brotherly connection.

In Batman #36, writer Tom King takes the simple premise of a parallel narrative as the story jumps between Batman and Superman’s current crime thwarting efforts and uses it to flesh out and provide a deeper and more personal understanding of a complicated ‘friendship’ (as Superman finds himself questioning whether Batman really wants or needs a friend) between two men, born of different worlds – literally and figuratively.  With the world of Batman comics shaken by the recent engagement of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, this seems the perfect time to tell such a story where Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman agonise over whether one should call the other to discuss the news.  It’s a straightforward concept but it’s in the execution where King excels and having each hero’s respective partners in crime fighting and life – Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Lois Lane – function as the voices of reason is the genius stroke, whereby Bruce and Clark are able to divulge their true feelings of respect and friendship.

“Superfriends” is elevated further by returning artist Clay Mann (aided by inker Seth Mann) who’s powerful, attentive and intricate visuals are of great benefit.  His style has a sort of scratchy and nourish look to it that would generally seem a stronger fit for the dark and gritty world of Batman, but Jordie Bellaire’s well utilised colour palette makes it work equally well for the brighter and more optimistic world of Superman.

Tom King’s run on Batman has been a highlight of DC’s Rebirth and beyond, and whilst some arcs have been stronger than others (how could “Rules of Engagement” have hoped to top “The War of Jokes and Riddles”?) it’s been a consistently strong title and right now, DC’s best comic – if you’re not reading it, you really should be.

The bottom line:  Tom King delivers one of his strongest issues of Batman yet and together with artist Clay Mann gives readers a compelling insight into the bond between two of DC’s finest.

Batman #36 is published by DC Comics and is available in print and digital formats now.

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4 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘Batman’ #36

  1. The friendship between Batman and Superman has always been a bid edgy and complicate. This sounds like a good issue, I’ve not read King’s Batman for a while now, but I might give it another try maybe – and I was tempted by this issue. Its got a really nice cover as well, I like the change to the logo in the corner, looks better than the bold Rebirth banner across the top.

    • I’ve been a fan of King’s Batman run and in all honesty this (together with last week’s stellar Annual #2) is perhaps the best issue he’s delivered so far and one of the greatest Batman comics that I’ve read in a long time. The exploration of the Batman/Superman dynamic always makes things more interesting, if you love these characters I’m confident you’ll enjoy this issue Paul, and it’s an ideal jumping on point (provided you’re aware of the Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle engagement of course).

      I’m also glad DC decided to move on from the ‘Rebirth’ banner, it’s been long enough now for everything to be established in the new DC era. Can’t wait for the next issue.

      • Cheers, well it sounds like its time I gave King’s Batman another try then. Yes, I’ve been aware of the engagement with Bruce and Selina, sounds interesting. Agreed, Rebirth has been great, but its a good move to change the logo back to something more traditionally DC 🙂

  2. The artwork really looked phenomenal from all the teasers King has been tweeting around recently. I’ve heard great things about this particular issue and its exploration of Batz and Supz relationship. Nice to hear that you approve and greatly enjoyed it yourself. I’ll be looking forward to issue #37 to complete the arc for volume 5 before reading them all.

    I also got to admit that the rebranding of the Rebirth banner on the cover is WAY better. I hope it’s not just an ebook cover though… 😮 Great review as always, Chris.

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