Image courtesy of DC Comics. Art by Joëlle Jones, colours by Jordie Bellaire, written by Tom King (2018).
Warning: Full Spoilers Ahead
The fourth and final issue to conclude Batman’s “Superfriends” storyline finds Bruce and Diana stranded in a hell dimension where time passes to the equivalent of years to one earth hour. As decades drag on, Bruce and Diana slave in the hopes that one day the true guard of the realm might return – a man whose only desire is to spend one day of rest with his wife.
There was no shortage of criticism on behalf of fans for the penultimate issue of Batman which saw Wonder Woman and Batman draw into a near kiss after spending decades starved for affection. While the Batman/Wonder Woman pairing has always been a popular concept hinted at previously in comic books and notably the Justice League Animated Series, the issue received backlash from fans eager to see Batman and Catwoman finally tie the knot this year in Batman #50 (a wedding 78 years in the making). Similarly, the issue didn’t impress the Wonder Woman fans tired of seeing Diana treated as a kind of ‘forbidden fruit’ for the male members of the Justice League. Thankfully to most, this Wednesday’s issue dispels any fears that Batman and Catwoman might have to put a halt on their wedding (well, for now at least).
At the issue’s opening, Bruce and Diana’s friendship is solidified after their moment of temptation, declaring that they “could never” betray the ones they love by quite literally going at it in hell. From then on, Batman #40 was an utter delight, showcasing a friendship amongst two of the Super Friends that’s often overshadowed by renowned BFF dorks, Batman and Superman.
Writer Tom King’s smart dialogue managed to include throwbacks all the way to Wondy’s pet kangaroo ‘Jumpa’ (first seen in Sensation Comics #6, 1942) while still maintaining an emotional undercurrent for the time spent fighting in the hell dimension. Although not ground-breaking, the comic’s structure and ‘cuts’ between the two dimensions complimented the characters’ anguish and longing to see each other again, creating an all-round effective narrative .
Also to be commended was King’s ‘no shortcuts’ attitude towards character conflict by allowing the reader to sympathise more so with the runaway guard, ‘The Gentle Man’, even as we feel sorry for Bruce and Diana. With each passing year for Bruce and Diana, The Gentle Man’s sacrifice became more meaningful and proposed a heartbreaking and troublesome moral quandary for the reader over whether he should be allowed to spend another hour with his wife at the cost of years for Bruce and Diana.
Not to be forgotten, Joëlle Jone’s expressive visual art was an example of an artist playing to their strong suits, with art that tells a thousand emotions in minor facial detail and body language. While Jones took over the art for Batman in Batman #33, artist Mikel Janín (Batman: War of Jokes and Riddles, Grayson) is set to return next issue, “Everyone Loves Ivy” Part One. Hopefully, she’s not gone for long.
Batman #41 is expected to hit the shelves February 21st 2018.
Batman #40 (2018) "Superfriends Part Four"
Tom King, Joëlle Jones and Jordie Bellaire deliver another emotional and compelling issue which alleviates some of the concerns generated in Batman #39.