Batman #40 (2018)
By Tom King, Joelle Jones & Jordie Bellaire
Batman #40 is excellent, acting as an epilogue to the Superfriends storyline exploring the dynamic bond between Batman and Wonder Woman, who were trapped on an alien world away from Gotham and their significant others. Will they succumb to temptation or stay true to Selina Kyle and Steve Trevor, respectively? Will Catwoman find a way to bring them home?
Tom King’s epic run on Batman is a character-defining arc for the ages that excels issue after issue. The book offers a fantastic exploration of who Batman is, delving more into what makes him human than few writers have tackled before. Sometimes he feels like an enigma, disconnected from the storyline and the other characters in general, but King has really done his best to portray Bruce as someone who is most definitely human, and all the problems that come with it. He’s still Batman, of course, and this issue sees a lot of Batman in combat as you’d expect from a Batman comic, but this issue like most of the current arc feels very character-focused, and really pays off because of that.
King manages to avoid this book becoming a long drawn out superhero soap-opera, sidestepping his way through the normal clichés that a book like this could have undergone by taking his own unique approach to the book. A good portion of the time in this issue is spent on Selina’s character as well, and it really helps add some much-needed depth to her character. King has succeeded in making the reader invested in the relationship between Selina and Bruce, which was partly why that cliffhanger at the end of the last issue was just as scary and worrisome as any cliffhanger where Batman was backed into a corner against one of his Rogues.
The artwork from Joelle Jones is as excellent and terrific as ever. She has been an excellent choice for the art on this book and combined with the triumphant colours of Jordie Bellaire, the emotional weight and depth feels all the more important by how well the characters are drawn. Their expressions play a big part in this chapter and it’s hard to imagine most artists pulling it off as well as Jones and Bellaire do here. The book maintains its similar tone over much of the issue, and the back and forth cuts between the Realm and Gotham don’t look jarring or out-of-place at all, yet at the same time manage to provide both locations with a clear and distinctive look to help them stand-out.
Melodrama is not on the agenda for Tom King here as he manages to make this another powerful, standout issue that is every bit as important in the development of Batman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman’s characters. The pace is timed to perfection and the resolution to last issues’ big cliffhanger is incredibly well done. Arguably, King, Jones and Bellaire’s Batman is the best Batman book on shelves and it should be essential reading for anyone who’s a fan of the character.