In Review: Batman #37

This gets my vote for the best issue of Batman of the year. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: A pair to find for this outstanding issue. The Regular cover is by Mike Janín and features a showdown of DC Comics’ two most famous couples: on the left is Batman and Catwoman looking at Superman and Lois Lane on the right. All four characters are drawn in bust shots, with the women in front of the men. All four have slight smiles on their faces, foreshadowing the humor of this issue. As much as I like this and am a tremendous fan of Janín’s artwork, I had to purchase the Variant cover by Olivier Coipel & Dave Stewart. This has Catwoman squatting atop a sign on a building with Batman behind her. They’re looking down upon the reader and they look awesome. I want this as a poster, a print, and a tee shirt. It’s flawless. It’s also the image I chose to accompany this review. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: Tom King scripted this second part of “Super Friends” but no reading of the previous issue is required to enjoy this fantastic tale. Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Selina Kyle, and Bruce Wayne go on a double date at the Gotham County Fair. Unfortunately it’s Super Hero Night — everyone needs to be in costume. Since they only have their normal costumes, Lois suggests it would be fun if they switch, with Clark dressed as Batman, Lois as Catwoman, Bruce as Superman, and Selina in Lois’s dress. Bruce’s responses remind of Charles Grodin. Their actions at the fair are fantastic, including eating corn dogs, going on the tunnel of love, hitting the batting cages, going on the ferris wheel, and encountering someone dressed as a famous Steve Ditko character. While the boys try to one up each other, Lois and Selina have great conversations where they reveal aspects of their characters to one another. After all, who else can they talk to about their relationships? This was a fantastic issue of heroes trying to be normal, with their pasts getting in the way. This is the best Batman story of the year. Overall grade: A+

The art: The artwork on this book by Clay Mann is fantastic. The first panel of the book sold me on this issue with the costumes that the fair goers are wearing; I practically screamed in delight at what the speaker is wearing in the first panel. As the foursome discuss what they’re going to do on Page 2 the layout of the page makes Bruce’s responses hilarious. Page 4 depends on the visuals to make the humor work and they work wonderfully. The quartet is shown in a full-page splash entering the fair on 5 and it’s awesome: I love that “Superman” has got some stubble throughout the issue. Page 7 has another hilarious visual that made me gasp at what’s shown in the final panel and then laugh out loud; after all, what else could possible happen but that? The give and take between the men in their actions on 8 and 10 is also terrific, but the visuals for the ladies’ talk steals the focus on 9 and 11. The best page of the issue has to be 17, comprised of nine panels, but featuring the characters wonderfully walking over them. It’s such a smart layout. This entire issue is, I repeat, fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Jordie Bellaire is responsible for the book’s colors and, like the art, are perfection. The colors that shade the characters as they make their way through the fair capture the night lights flawlessly. They first appear in the background behind the foursome in the second panel on Page 1, but notice how the characters are wearing the colors they’re most associated with — so cool! The orange shades on Page 4 capture the glare of the fair excellently. Even though this tale is set at night, every element of the artwork can be clearly seen. The last two pages have the brightest colors of the book, though are in real tones than the typical over the top hues of comics. Bellaire knocks this issue of the park with her work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Signage, dialogue, sounds, the story’s title, and the book’s credits are by Clayton Cowles. The font for the dialogue suits this quiet tale, where characters talk rather than yell during a crisis. The sounds are big when the boys are competing at something and suit their actions. Cowles is also hitting a home run with this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A flawless issue that one gives to others to hook them into becoming comic book fans. A quiet tale where all four characters reveal things about themselves is riveting reading. The visuals are gorgeous in every possible way. This gets my vote for the best issue of Batman of the year. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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