Spoilers for Batman #50 follow.
However, whatever fans think about the story, there's some impressive art in Batman #50. Not only do Mikel Janin and June Chung bring their A-game to the art and colors of the issue, but there are many other top-tier comic book artists involved in the book. These artists each contributed their own interpretations of Batman and Catwoman leading to 20 unique pages spread over Batman #50, helping to tell the story -- and quite literally so. The issue utilized these guest pages to illustrate the letters Batman and Catwoman left for each other, making Catwoman's betrayal all the more heart wrenching.
With so much attention being paid to the details of the story -- the wedding that wasn't, the surprise villains in the final page, to what looks like it might be Booster Gold's trusty companion, Skeets chilling with Bane -- the wealth of artwork in Batman #50 has been largely ignored. And that's a shame so we've decided to change that by ranking each of the 20 unique pieces of guest art in Batman #50 from "best" to "worst".
A couple of notes on the rankings before we start. First, every single piece of art in Batman #50 is just that: art. The issue is a treasure trove of incredible talent. No one is saying otherwise. There's just some of the art that works better than others. Second, as with all rankings and lists, there are just opinions and even the page that came in at number 20 has good qualities.
With all that said, here are all of the Batman #50 guest artist pages ranked.
As with all lists, someone has to be in the last place and in Batman #50's guest art that happens to be Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. There is admittedly a lot going on in their page. Batman is swinging between buildings chasing Catwoman while gems and cash fly around them in a fairly classic scene. However, the way Catwoman in particular is drawn simply doesn't work. Her body is disproportionate -- her thighs look like they're larger than her midsection and the musculature on her abdomen makes it look like she has some sort of chest deformity while her arms are almost comically too short. Batman isn't much better. It's an interesting choice for the first part of Batman's letter to Catwoman -- but it feels out of place.
Another piece that feels out of place in the issue is Frank Miller and Alex Sinclair's contribution. Proportion is an issue in this page to a certain extent -- Batman is massively larger than Catwoman -- but that could easily be ignored. What can't is how tonally different this page is compared to the rest of the book. As Miller's work goes, this is very much his style. But this isn't Miller's Batman in Batman #50.
Conceptually, there's a lot to love in Mitch Gerads' offering. The rooftop intimacy between Batman and Catwoman is really such a beautiful element of these characters' relationship. Unfortunately, while Gerads gets the idea right the execution is flawed. Catwoman just looks wrong somehow, and far older than she is. There's also the issue of Bruce's feet. His bare right foot looks horribly deformed and is visually disruptive to the overall piece.
All of the art in Batman #50 has a beautifully iconic feel -- particularly Neal Adams and Hi-Fi's contribution, but what makes their otherwise stunning page rate so low on this list is how Catwoman is depicted. While Batman is downright majestic as the Dark Knight looking out over Gotham, Catwoman looks like a caricature of herself. Certainly, Adams' take on Catwoman is always a bit more on the sexy side, but usually it's playfully done. This time, however, Catwoman looks like she's been stripped of her intelligence and personality.
Another scene of Batman and Catwoman on a rooftop, conceptually Paul Pope and Jose Villarrubia's page makes sense. Unfortunately, the coloring is a little off -- Catwoman's costume is more red than purple, which is notable as Villarrubia does coloring on another guest page in the issue with a similar style that is more purple -- and when we get close up to Batman and Catwoman's face, both characters look like they've had too many lip filler injections. It's just an odd look that doesn't tonally work well for the issue.
Ty Templeton and Keiren Smith's page is a nod to the animated versions of Catwoman and Batman. The belt detailing on Catwoman's belt is an excellent take, as is Batman being seen only in shadow. It's not the flashiest page, and while that isn't a bad thing -- it's actually rather nice as a backdrop for this portion of Batman's letter -- but that subdued quality simply puts it in the shadow of some of the other pages yet to come on this list.
Realistically, Tim Sale and Jose Villarrubia's contribution to Batman #50 would probably have ranked higher on this list if it had been placed anywhere else in the issue. As is, it immediately precedes Villarrubia's work with Paul Pope and the two pages are very visually similar. It just doesn't work that well, though the layout of the page being nearly the reverse of Pope and Villarrubia's is a nice touch.
Greg Capullo and FC Plascencia's page is where things start to get difficult in terms of ranking the pages as this one is beautiful. The colors are what pulls this one a little lower on the list. It just seems very subdued.
Like, Capullo and Plascencia's offering, the page contributed by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair is another beautiful and classic page with Batman and Catwoman kissing with Gotham as a backdrop. What makes this page rank higher, though, is the use of color. The red sky makes the subtle purple hues of Catwoman's costume pop and helps her standout against Batman's tones of gray and black.
Color is an important element of the page by Andy Kubert and Alex Sinclair as it was in Sinclair's other offering. However, what makes this page stand out is the nod to Catwoman's classic costume. Purple dress, green cape, long flowing hair and a playful smirk despite her hands being cuffed behind her back -- the page really let's Catwoman's personality jump off the page and really works nicely with the content of Catwoman's letter it serves as the backdrop of.
Batman #50 wouldn't be complete without a page of art devoted to Batman's proposal and that's why David Finch and Jordie Bellaire's offering is our introduction to the top ten. Both Batman and Catwoman are done in nearly identical tones of black and gray with their body positioning very similar as well. What illuminates the page is the glowing Bat signal that fills nearly the entire sky and while it's a bit subtle, it's that Bat signal's coloring that almost obscures the engagement ring entirely -- fitting, considering it’s Bruce Wayne's role as Batman that Catwoman more or less uses as her reason to run.
Another nod to a more classic Catwoman look, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Trish Mulvihill's page stands out as a nearly perfect blend of the two characters. Bats in the sky, cats at their feet, the lovers are surrounded by their own totems. It's a beautiful page and makes for a perfect kick-off for the guest art in the issue (it's the first one featured.)
Lee Bermejo's page makes the top ten because it has an element of realism to it that other pages in the issue don't quite have. The way Batman's costume is illuminated with the red-orange light coming from inside Catwoman's window is also exquisitely done. There's also a little bit of a Michael Keaton as Batman vibe that's nice to see.
With Batman #50 having such weight, having a page of art that is a bit more fun is a nice touch and Clay Mann and Jordie Bellaire's page definitely brings fun. What makes this page great, though, is the inclusion of Superman and Lois Lane. While Batman and Catwoman decided to elope without their friends there to celebrate with them, Bruce's friendship with Clark is important so it's nice to see that addressed in the art. It's also just nice to see the brighter colors of Superman's costume as it's much brighter than most of the colors in the issue overall.
With Joelle Jones on the new Catwoman title -- which, if you haven't read it you really should check it out as it picks up immediately after Batman #50 -- it's fitting that she has a page in this milestone Batman issue. And it's a page that doesn't disappoint. There are a lot of hard angles on this page as Batman and Catwoman ride a horse across an unseen landscape and those angles serve two purposes: Catwoman's body language sets her a bit apart from Batman despite their closeness on horseback thanks to those angles, but there's a sharpness to the image that's reflected in the text. This page, you see, is the page where Catwoman breaks up with Batman. Everything changes from here.
Catwoman and her motorcycle, with Batman along for the ride, makes for a perfect addition to Batman #50 and Tony S. Daniel's page with Tomeu Morey has a cinematic quality to it that easily pushes it into our top five. Both Batman and Catwoman look like they are genuinely enjoying themselves, but more than that it's the little details of the image that tell the story. The clouds of dust the duo's wild ride leaves behind are heart-shaped, Batman's cape flies out behind him in a very bat like shape, and if you look carefully, the Dark Knight is even grinning in this bright, lighthearted page.
Another fun page to make it to the top five is Rafael Albuquerque's fun take on a Spider-Man-esque upside down kiss. Batman doesn't appear to be having a very good time in this mostly black and white page -- he's tied up, after all -- but Catwoman's playful side shines almost as much as the handful of jewels she's about to make off with.
In the letters Batman and Catwoman write to one another in Batman #50, their eyes are frequently mentioned and what being able to see into them means. While Batman's eyes are obscured by his costume, Catwoman always shows her eyes exactly as they are and Becky Cloonan's page puts those green eyes on display much as Catwoman does. Cloonan uses a bright, brilliant emerald green to represent Catwoman's eyes and even with a bright orange moon in as part of the image's background, the eyes are striking. You can see how much Catwoman loves Batman in Cloonan's page. The emotion soars and has a life of its own more than almost any other piece of art in the entire issue.
A book about Batman and Catwoman's relationship wouldn't be complete without a nod to Batman: Hush and Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts' absolutely delivers. Look carefully at the tigers. The one that's snuggled up to Batman has his tongue sticking out, very much like the tiger behind Catwoman does right after he unmasks himself to Catwoman. It's a nice touch, just like it's nice to see Batman and Catwoman on a date of sorts on this page.
The top entry on this list is the last page of guest art in the issue and it's also the most haunting. Lee Week's offering has both Batman and Catwoman in profile, as many of the pages in the issue do, but there's something to be said about how they each seem to disappear into the blackness save for the exposed parts of their faces. The page feels very much like an ending. Batman's jaw is set as he looks down on Catwoman's face and her eyes are closed as her face is turned up to him. It's the final image of the pair in the book as, when readers turn the page, the focus is turned to Arkham Asylum and the role Bane and other villains may have played in breaking up the happy couple. It's a heartbreaking placement and a striking image -- one that sticks with you long after you close the book.
What was your favorite page of guest art in Batman #50? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.