Batman: Rules of Engagement by Tom King

rulesengagementTitle: Batman
Story arc: Rules of Engagement
Volume: 5
Stand-Alone: No
Universe: DC Universe Rebirth
Writer(s): Tom King
Illustrator(s): Joëlle Jones, Jordie Bellaire, Lee Weeks, Michael Lark, Elizabeth Breitweiser, June Chung, Clay Mann & Seth Mann
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Single Issues
Paperback Release Date: May 1st 2018
Pages: 160
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
ISBN13: 9781401277314


Previously on DC Universe Rebirth’s Batman:
Batman (Volume 1) I Am Gotham by Tom King
Batman (Volume 1.5) Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando
Batman (Volume 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King
Batman (Volume 3) I Am Bane by Tom King
Batman/The Flash (Volume 3.5) The Button by Tom King
Batman (Volume 4) The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King


After the newly-found quality that surged from The War of Jokes and Riddles, writer Tom King delivers another excellent volume featuring no supervillains at all. How is that event possible? Rules of Engagement is an exploration of various relationships, notably the two new lovebirds who came crashing in with a love for each other bigger than life itself.

In this volume, we are presented with three different stories: The Rules of Engagement (3 part), Some of These Days (annual #2) and Superfriends (2 part). What they all have in common is the presence of Catwoman, Spoiler, highlight to read: « the woman to whom Batman/Bruce Wayne asked to marry him and received a surprisingly pleasant “yes” ». It is a relationship that has been teased over the years in Batman’s lore, but Tom King takes it upon himself to make it happen. If anything he delivers a synergistic relationship that has an authentic chemistry where they both stay loyal to who they are while being a perfect match for each other.

Of all three stories, The Rules of Engagement was the oddity in all this. It started off mysterious in every way possible with two different narratives taking place simultaneously. One featuring the kids part of the Batfamily (Jason Todd, Damian Wayne and Duke Thomas) as they wonder what has been going on with Bruce Wayne and what he is now up to, and another featuring Catwoman and Batman off to an obscure place called Khadym. But as Tom King slowly peels the layers away and presents us with the purpose of this story, only more questions arise. At first interesting, they quickly turned into plot holes for which I doubt we’ll ever see any explanations in the future volume.

batmanrulesofengagementquote

While it had its issues—the same kind of problems I often seem to have with King’s writing—it did have its upside, especially in regards to the banter between Cats and Bats. Spoiler, highlight to read: « I definitely enjoyed the overload of cuteness that radiated from these two as they enter a cave filled with misery and blood. Not only are they dressed similarly and just make us want to root for their relationship to be eternal, they also show how much they known each other and why they are meant to be together. It only gets better when you throw in Talia into the mix, also known as the crazy ex. In fact, it also definitely helped that her psychopathy was showing more than a 15 month pregnancy. » The artwork was also nice, even if it’s not Mikel Janin. It sometimes felt like it was bordering a cartoonish-bubbly style, but it never lasted long enough to annoy me for this story.

The second story (in chronological order of their single issue release) is the Annual #2 issue called Some of These Days. This is by far the best annual issue story that I have ever read. The first thing I just have to mention is its phenomenal artwork that clearly raised this little story into a work of fiction worth putting side-by-side with other classics. What Tom King delivers is a cat and mouse story (quite literally too, really) between Bats and Cats. It takes place early in their careers as heroes and villains, and highlights their complex relationship and their undeniable understanding of each other. It ends with a glimpse into their later years that will easily be qualified as one of the most bittersweet endings of all time. This was simply masterful. Beautiful. Brilliant. Sad.

The last story is called Superfriends. This two part mini-adventure is a hilarious and cute (I’d even say hot to some extent) adventure featuring Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle. Again, Tom King nails the personalities of these characters as boys are boys and girls are girls. He also brilliantly delivers a side-by-side dialogue where Batman explains the greatness of Superman, and Superman explains the greatness of Batman, while they both sell themselves short in the process. It was beautiful and almost tear-inducing. This story also answers the one question that every fan has been dying to know: Can Batman hit a baseball pitched by Superman? 😉

And with that, Tom King delivers a successful story arc without any big villains or major world-threatening event. With Rules of Engagement, he actually makes us care for this newly-formed relationship, but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if something really horrible happens to someone in particular in the next volume. Besides the first story within this volume, this was perfect. I definitely enjoyed the improvement in King’s work since his debut on this Batman series and I hope he’ll be able to continue this streak of quality content.

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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆

Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Batman: Rules of Engagement?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,

lashaansignature

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23 thoughts on “Batman: Rules of Engagement by Tom King

  1. raistlin0903 says:

    I like the cover of Batman on that horse (take that Batmobile lol). This sounds like a pretty cool collection. I have hardly any Batman comics in my collection for some reason. Despite me being a Marvel fan at heart, Batman has always been a favorite superhero of mine. I might check this out, the stories sound different than the usual superhero stories, which is kind of refreshing. Awesome review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahahah yep! Batman on a horse is actually a classic scene from The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (if you google image Dark Knight Returns Batman horse, you’ll see that iconic scene or… You could always read it heheh)! 😀 Oh there are some stories that are really worth picking up and keeping in your collection. Of course, Batman being such a popular character who has been around for a VERY long time, there has been countless writers who have had the chance to write stories with him and… well… make some pretty crappy stuff for fans hahah Glad to hear your interest in this volume. If there’s one series that is 100% worth checking out it’s Scott Snyder’s Batman run in the New 52 era. Volume 1 (The Court of Owls) is an easy way for anyone to check out a Batman storyline. 😉 This Tom King’s Batman run in the Rebirth series is not an easy starting point for anyone, but you could totally try it out if you’re curious! Thanks for reading sir. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nikola (Breathing Through Pages) says:

    I’ve never been a comic book reader.. maybe it’s because they were never, sort of, widely available where I’m from like they are now (I might be wrong but I rarely saw them when I was younger). I do enjoy watching movies that feature superheroes and find them very cool. I guess I’m more of a fiction reader rather than a comic book one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      You’re right. Comics have come a long way now. Especially with its shows/movies being much more present in pop culture now and with Internet being so much more important in our ability to get information. Younger, I saw comics as a thing that you could pick up in a convenience store but never really payed attention and just stuck with animated shows and what not for all things superhero. And the question of availability is probably another big reason too. I do encourage trying some of these out, especially some of the more classic graphic novels that aren’t about superheroes (like Maus) as they are powerful stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris Evans @ Geek Blogger UK says:

    Excellent review, as ever, good sir and I enjoyed reading your thoughts (as I always do). “Rukes of Engagement” was fine but it was Annual #2 and the “Superfriends” two-parter that were the real highlight – the latter quite emotional and heartfelt and the former probably one of the greatest Batman/Superman stories ever as King delves rather deep into both characters in a way that’s not been done before.

    Progressing the on/off relationship of Bruce and Selina is quite a brave and risky move but I too have to wonder if it’ll all work out the way it seems…hm, I’m not so sure – Batman’s world is one of tragedy…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks Chris. 100% agree. Annual and Superfriends were pure gold in this. And it says a lot cause the former is just 1 issue, the latter is just 2 issues. I’m convinced now that if Tom King was given a longer period to come up with stories, it would almost always turn out amazing. I mean… volume 4 was the first time that the volume was suddenly longer than usual too! And that one also turned out awesome.

      Yep. I too think tragedy is pending. And now that fans will be pretty invested in their relationship thanks to this volume… Things could turn out pretty bad in the near future!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans @ Geek Blogger UK says:

        Agreed mate, whilst I feel Tom King’s Batman is the strongest title of the current DCU it could only be improved further if it was on a monthly publishing schedule – as would pretty much every DC title but King’s Batman certainly fairs much better than the Superman books or Justice League (a pale shadow of what it was during Geoff Johns’ tenure pre-Rebirth).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Being how I am about the DC Universe, this would probably be a less than ideal read for me haha. I think it might lack a certain amount of cohesion that I find I crave. But I am glad you were able to find more enjoyable aspects within and that it fared well in the long run for you 🙂 I always enjoy your GN reviews. I feel I walk away knowing exactly what to and not to expect! Brilliant 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh, I understand. Some volumes are nice stand-alones, but when it comes to these canon series, it’s best to go in the order they are published to be able to fully appreciate it all. Thank you again for your kind words and even more for taking the time to read this knowing that it might not have been something you’d have picked up anytime soon, Danielle! It means a lot. ❤

      Like

  5. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this comic Lashaan. 😀 It sounds like you really enjoyed it and it also sounds like Tom King is an incredible writer when it comes to Batman’s story arc as well.
    I have to admit I was a little confused when you said this was an instalment with no supervillains at all (after all what is a comic book superhero without comic book supervillains) but it seems like King was able to pull of a great story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks, Beth! Oh yes. I think that DC Comics just needs to give him more issues per volume for him to make the most of his story-telling abilities. He has some really neat ideas and so far it has only been getting better as we get deeper into the series.

      Hahahh it is odd huh?! It was nice that it worked well cause King turned out to be an expert at character exploration/development and that’s what he focused on! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I have to agree with you Lashaan… I think Batman is gearing up for some heartache. When I watch an episode like this in a kdrama my Batman senses tingle and tell me… oh no a super villain is about to ruin this… seriously though I do love that he seemed to make it work that there was no super villain in THIS volume. I was quite surprised actually to hear you say you liked it too. It really must be impressive… speaking of impressive the graphics in this post really make me feel drawn to this comic! 🤩

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yes!! With great stories/shows/movies I’ve come to notice those hints where they suddenly focus on something special, nice and meaningful (especially a person) longer than usual only to kill them off tragically after. And I feel like this volume was exactly that! Hopefully it’ll all be done well. Thank you so much Dani!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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