Story arc: Rules of Engagement
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
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
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.
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.
You can order your copy now!
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆
Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Batman: Rules of Engagement?
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Till next time,