The eagerly-anticipated wedding of Batman and Catwoman has arrived with Batman #50, and, if you've been on the Internet much at all in the last few days, then you probably already know how that works out. However, even if you happened to be spoiled to generalities of whether the pair did or did not wed, you don't really know the whole story -- and that's what makes Batman #50 an incredible book.
If you haven't read Batman #50 or had the issue's major events revealed to you yet, there are spoilers beyond this point.
On the surface, Batman #50 is predictable. If you've been reading the prelude tie-in issues or even just last week's Batman #49, then the fact that the wedding doesn't take place will come as no surprise. However, where predictability was a weakness previously, it's a strength this issue. Batman getting married was never the point of the wedding. The point was what the possibility of getting married means -- for the book, for Batman, for Selina, and for Bruce Wayne himself.
That story-beneath-the-story is one of the major strengths of this issue. It is rare moment in the character's history where we see Bruce Wayne the man really confront himself and who he is beyond the Dark Knight, and in Batman #50 we see the character fully laid bare through the convention of a letter to Catwoman. The question of whether Batman can exist if Bruce Wayne is happy gives way to a much more significant one: can Bruce Wayne actually be happy?
The flip side of that is Catwoman's arc within the issue. I said it last week with Batman #49, but it remains true this week: this book isn't about Batman or Bruce Wayne so much as it is about Catwoman and Selina Kyle. This is her story, and even as Bruce is finally recognizing that maybe he can transcend his life of pain, Selina is confronted by what she is becoming. It's her choice to run from her own evolution, and it's that narrative choice that humanizes Selina in a way that comics have never really done. With King having Selina "blame" Batman for her choice to run much in the same way real people often deflect onto others rather than examine themselves, it signals that he really does see Selina as more than Catwoman, and more than that, it's clear that he has the best of intentions for these beloved characters. We can trust that there's more to explore.
Intentions and a story far deeper than just a wedding aside, Batman #50 is visually stunning, and the book is a must-buy if for no other reason than the art. Throughout the issue are 20 different pages of art from an impressive list of guest artists, each one calling back to different moments and eras of Batman and Catwoman's history. While they aren't all hits -- Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson's page in particular doesn't quite work -- the overall effect grounds the issue in a way that truly feels like the end of an era. The same can be said for Janin and Chung's work in the panels where Bruce and Alfred are talking on the way to the wedding. The images punch you in the gut far more than the text ever will.
Overall, Batman #50 may not live up to the overwhelming hype that led up to it, but it doesn't need to. It's an issue that redefines and fundamentally changes Batman -- and Catwoman -- forever in a way that has been far too long in coming.
Published by DC Comics
On July 4, 2018
Written by Tom King
Art by Mikel Janin
Color by June Chung
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Mikel Janin