Written by: Tom King
Art by: Joelle Jones
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
The War of Bruce Wayne’s Lovers (“The Rules of Engagement Part 3”) continues this week with an excellent issue from Tom King and co. The art/color by Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire, as with the last two installments, impresses beyond belief and is the best Bat-art outside of Metal currently on stands.
The story drops us at the start of a sword duel between Selina Kyle and Talia al Ghul. The two fierce fighters banter and insult in one of the best fight sequences I’ve read (apart from what is in Wild Storm – more on that in my review of that title) in a while. Wonderfully scripted and glorious visually, this set of panels is one of the best in Tom King’s run to date. It has the feel of Indiana Jones or James Bond in the way that the dialog flows whilst telling us a lot about the characters. Talia is an immortal madman’s daughter, raised to fend for herself. Selina is a street kid who takes because she’s never been given anything. Both women fit the profile of a Batman paramour perfectly.
What also starts happening as the pages turn is we are privy to a “brotherly” conversation between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. They are the flip side to the dialog happening in the sword fight. Ultimately they hit upon one of the big themes of King’s writing on Batman, which is Batman’s motivations and his yearning for happiness. Selina proves to be the better match for Bruce just as Dick proves himself the wiser older-brother. They both understand Batman.
A plot point we are overlooking is Selina’s discussion with Holly Robinson, who is hiding with Talia’s group, since she killed a great many people and framed Selina. This actually doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but as the two women talk Talia, wounded by Catwoman, finds Batman (whom she wounded last issue) and hilariously tells him that she likes Selina. HA!
This arc wraps up with Catwoman aiding Batman out of the rock fortress to meet up with Damian and Dick who have been just outside the entire time. The banter here too is great, with Catwoman telling Damian bluntly that his mom stabbed Batman so she stabbed her. Whoa. Anyway, they are leaving now to find Superman. The 3 issue story came and went and I quite enjoyed it. I hope this art team stays together and handles some more big stories because frankly, they produce beautiful imagery. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this one. The momentum needs to build and go somewhere however because Batman marrying Catwoman still isn’t my personal favorite choice. Yet I am down for the journey.