Monday, March 26, 2018

Bullet Review: Batman #43

This is going to seem like a silly review. I don't normally buy the Batman solo book. But I have been impressed with Tom King's work just about everywhere else. I loved his two parter with Superman. So it has become something of an impulse buy. In the end, I wonder if it should just move to the pull list.

Add to that my reading, with great interest, the conversation about his treatment of Poison Ivy in this latest arc. I thought my passion about Supergirl was rabid but it pales in comparison to some of the  Ivy lovers out there. They are a vocal group with strong feelings about their favorite character. And they weren't happy. So that piqued my interest even more.

So what made this be pushed over into bullet review territory? Well for one, Supergirl has a role in this book, albeit a silent one. She is there in the background. And the art is by Mikel Janin. I love Janin's art and think he would be great on a Supergirl book. Who knows when (or if) he would be drawing her again! So I thought maybe I would share just for that.

But more than that, there is a moment in this book, an homage to a prior story, that is just so perfect that I needed to talk about it here. And even better, that homage tangentially involves Supergirl!

King is really firing on all cylinders these days. And the art in this book is just lush, especially the Ivy-centric pages.

Okay, I freely admit that I didn't read the last issue. But it seems that Ivy has taken over the entire world except Bruce and Selina. Hopefully that was explained last issue.

The book opens with Batman nursing some wounds in a hospital while Harley cares for him.

What I love is that Bruce has three security guards around him: Superman, Supergirl, and New Super-Man. Batman is so dangerous that Ivy put three Supers around him.

Now it would have been so easy for King to make it Kal, J'onn, and Diana. But he didn't and I am glad. This also gives some immediate street cred to Kenan. He is considered worthy to stand with the cousins.

Not the best panel of Kara but she still looks great.

Bruce seems to have wanted to be put in this situation because he thinks the only person who can help the world get out of this jam is Harley.

He isn't here to snap Superman out of his funk. In fact, Superman seems rather zealous in his defense of Ivy's plans. Instead, Bruce is leaning into Harley's inherent goodness. Her heart is in the right place. It's just that she doesn't know how to accomplish good without being impacted by her past. She is hurting.

Heck, Bruce is hurting too. And Selina. Maybe this will make them take a closer look at their own methods.

And then, the ka-pow moment.

Bruce says only Harley can help them. Because she has a special relationship with Ivy. They are very much together, like crossed finger.

Does this look familiar?

Well, way back in 2012 I reviewed 1988's Batgirl Adventures #1 (

In that book, Ivy has been kidnapped and Harley enlists Batgirl's help to rescue her. During the mission, Babs wonders if Harley and Ivy are ...well ... y'know. Like crossed finger?

I love Harley's response about Babs and Kara.

I love this moment. So for King to homage it, right down to Harley's expressions, is perfect. It is a different time in the world. It is a different book. It is okay to say that Harley and Ivy are together.

Just perfect.

While Bruce talks to Harley, Selina has been talking to Ivy. There is a lot of deep discussion about wanting to do good. About trying to overcome the past.

But ultimately, the plan is to incapacitate Ivy long enough to bring Harley to her. One kick to Ivy's gut later and the world gets woozy. Everyone is linked to Ivy. So if she is out of it, they are too.

That means the super-guards are out of action long enough for Bruce to escape.

I even love Janin drawing Supergirl passing out!

Bruce grabs Harley and jumps out the window, flipping down the building's outer walls and into the Batmobile.

Catwoman tries to convince Ivy that it isn't impossible to move forward despite a terrible past.

There is some fun to be had here.

Inside the Batmobile, Harley comes to her senses. It doesn't look like she and Bruce will be free to long when the supers arrive and stop the car.

Seriously, look at that last panel and tell me you don't want Janin on a super-book! I love that Kara.

Bruce tells Harley to ask them to bring her to Ivy and they do. That is what Ivy wants. Plus they are probably programmed to obey Harley.

I also had to laugh at the gag that Batman has a uniform program in the car that put his pants on for him. Harley thinks it's hysterical.

In the end, Harley is able to calm Ivy down and put her back on the right path. This idea of saving the world by controlling it isn't right. They can be hurt together, and love together, and be better together. I suppose it is a metaphor for Bruce and Selina. Even Ivy wanting to 'save the world' smacks of Batman's paranoid plans to defeat the JLA, institute Brother Eye, etc.  I suppose that was King's plan all along.

As for Ivy, it turns out that she isn't a cold-blooded killer (one of the moments that made her snap). The men she had been told she killed were actually killed by the Riddler. With that weight off her, she can now return to a better place and forgive herself.

So a great character issue with just eye-melting beautiful art. It intrigued me enough to go out and get the preceding issue. And I will have to see if the Ivy-fans liked it or thought it was dreck. But I loved it.

I mean, the reference to Batgirl Adventures alone made it worth the price.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I've not always been on board with King's Batman but the romance stuff is great. I'm glad Ivy isn't a killer because it stops people going utterly doolally, but I really do prefer her as the villain she was created to be - I'm sick of baddies pseudo-reforming.

What next, Darkseid on a JLA team?

Anonymous said...

"I'm glad Ivy isn't a killer because it stops people going utterly doolally, but I really do prefer her as the villain she was created to be - I'm sick of baddies pseudo-reforming."

I agree. Ivy was a psychopathic criminal with a high body cout, but we're supposed to believe she was always good at heart.

When a Transformer fan friend of mine told me Megatron had become an Autobot my reaction was "Wait, what?"

"What next, Darkseid on a JLA team?"

Well, we'have gotten Lobo, Starro, Brainiac... So far.

Anyway, good art and nice homage, but I'm not crazy about the Supers being put down AGAIN in order to make Batman look good AGAIN.

Martin Gray said...

I know what you mean, Anonymous... if God appeared in a Batman story he'd look bad by comparison.

As for Darkseid...

Anonymous said...

"What next, Darkseid on a JLA team?"

Lol... am I the only one who thinks JL Darkseid looks more like Anarky than Darkseid? It feels like the artist draws really well but failed to capture the essence of what is Darkseid in the art. Even Lunch Lady Darkseid looks more like Darkseid.

Anyway, great review Anj... and most of all Great catch. God I'd trade my memory for yours any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Supergirl's mentions... Anj, did you read Batgirl #19? There's a flashback to Batgirl and Supergirl's first meeting in the Batgirl Annual.

Anonymous said...

Its not enough that they have to job out Superman to Batman and his Unbeatable Rogue's Gallery now they have to job out Supergirl too....I personally LOVE the short sequence "Justice" wherein a slightly contemptuous Supergirl nukes Ivy's personal killer rainforest with her heat vision....