Review: Batman #37

“Super Friends”, Part 2

 

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Clay Mann

 

Tom King and Clay Mann hit two consecutive home runs with yet another highly enjoyable done-in-one Batman story featuring Batman and Superman.

The comic focuses on Batman and Superman in a mundane situation, just like in the previous issue. This time around, they go on a double-date with Lois and Catwoman. The premise is rife with character interplay and dramatic potential. There is genius in the simple, yet interesting plot.  When a typically pedestrian situation adds larger-than-life superheroes to it, everything that occurs is a thousand times more intriguing. Not only do we get the opportunity for more fun character interactions between Batman and Superman, but also between Lois and Catwoman. This comic continues to compare the two couples’ different dynamics between each other and draw fun parallels and contrasts.

It would behoove me not to mention the comedy in this issue. The premise of this story is that the couples go to a carnival on superhero night. In an effort to attend the carnival and still maintain their secret identities, Bruce and Clark switch costumes. That right there is a hilarious visual. Not to say the comedy relies solely on visual gags. The real humor comes from the witty, sharp dialogue. Bruce as Superman saying and acting in very un-Superman ways will always be very funny. King’s script shows a lot of affection for both Superman and Batman. But, he is also not afraid of poking fun at some of their personal tropes too. Furthermore, King’s one-liners-while hysterical- reveal character in dramatically interesting ways.

There is a scene where the couples are eating corn dogs that epitomizes King’s comedy writing the best. As Bruce eats the corn dog, he makes a comment about how he needs to kick a lot of trees to work off the calories. Clark swiftly follows up with, “I kicked a tree once. I felt so bad, I spent the rest of the day planting 800 saplings outside of Smallville.” The exchange works so well because it simultaneously reveals their personalities, while making a comedic callback to Batman: Year One.

However, this issue is not perfect. It lacks the complex, twisting nature of the previous one since the plot here is more straightforward. Also, some of the scripting tropes that King used are a bit tiresome. The whole parallelism schtick that King enjoys implementing in his writing so much is highly apparent. Additionally, the characters repeating things back and forth is a bit trite too, because now comic panels are also being repeated. It is the most egregious in the scene where the couples are eating ice cream and it’s literally the same panels with the same poses for two pages. That is not a knock on Mann’s artistic efforts, since he is going off of King’s script.

Speaking of Mann, his art looks just as amazing in this issue as the preceding one. His layouts and storytelling is excellent. His characters, particularly Lois, look stunning. However, there is a gripe about his art. Since the characters switched costumes, it is occasionally confusing to understand who is talking. It would have been a great opportunity for Mann to show off his storytelling skills if he distinguished the characters more with individualized body language and posture.

Conclusion

The efforts of King and Mann produced another great tale. It was funny, witty, and dramatically interesting. However, the plot was not super complex and King’s repetitious writing style did hinder the issue a bit. But overall, it was an enjoyable comic filled with gags, sharp one-liners, and fantastic art.

Images courtesy of DC Entertainment

Eric Lee

Eric Lee

Eric Lee hails from San Francisco, California and has been one of the biggest fans of Batman since he was 2 years old when his dad showed him Tim Burton's 'Batman' on a fuzzy VHS. Currently, Eric is an avid comic book reader and writer and illustrator working on his own graphic novel. You can see his doodles at meeleeart.com.