Tag Archives: Lee Weeks

A Batman: The Rules of Engagement Review – Woundmates

TITLE: Batman, Vol. 5: The Rules of Engagement
AUTHOR: Tom King
PENCILLERS: Joelle Jones, Clay Mann, Lee Weeks, Michael Lark
COLLECTS: Batman #3337, Batman Annual #2
FORMAT:
Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $16.99
RELEASED:
April 25, 2018

***WARNING: One or two minor spoilers ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Didja catch that? See what they did there? “Rules of Engagement.” Only it’s like, engagement. You know, to be married and stuff. Yeah, you get it. See, it’s that kind of clever wordplay that’s kept the Batman mythos alive for 80 years…

So before DC went and made a lot of people mad with the Batman/Catwoman wedding storyline, this was the early portion of the build-up. Basically, this is the part where most of Bruce Wayne’s closest allies react to his decision to marry Selina Kyle. Damian, Dick, and his various surrogate sons. Superman. Even Talia al Ghul. Hijinks and violence ensue.

Oooo! I’ve got one! Ready? Together, Bruce and Selina are about to learn that the only “rules of engagement,” are that there are no rules.

Oh c’mon! If they can get away with Rules of Engagement

1. A Walk Through the Desert

The first part of the book sees Batman and Catwoman enter the Middle Eastern country of Khadym, which the U.N. and the Justice League have designated off-limits. It also happens to house Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins. But Talia has something Bruce and Selina need to move forward with their marriage. Thus, the two sides are on a collision course. As you might expect, there are swords involved. Like, a lot of swords.

Presumably because of Batman v Superman, this book sees Batman don a duster and goggles, despite also being in full costume. It was stupid in the movie. It’s no less stupid here. The look would eventually return for another desert story, and it was no less stupid there either. I’ll be incredibly happy when this damn trend fades away.

As she would later do on the Catwoman series, Joelle Jones turns in some marvelous work, alongside colorist Jordie Bellaire. While her style, complete with the dark jagged lines, doesn’t exactly mesh well with the quiet scenes in Wayne Manor, it’s a tremendous fit for all the desert stuff. Jones often shines when the dramatic and the grotesque come together. So when things get bloody, slicey, and stabby, she’s right at home.

Not surprisingly, things culminate in a fight between Talia and Selina. It manages to be a pretty good fight. Not because of the physicality, but because of a stretch of dialogue where Selina proves she knows Bruce in a way Talia never has. She has a kind of insight into his mind and heart of which Talia may be incapable. From a writing standpoint, it’s one of the highlights of Tom King’s entire Batman run.

King also revisits the “Can Batman be happy?” idea he touched on during I Am Gotham. He uses Damian, grief-stricken that his father is marrying “that woman,” and Dick Grayson. Again, very poignant and effective stuff that cuts to the heart of the Batman character. I’ll leave it at that for now, as we’ll need to revisit it down the road anyway.

2. Double Date

The book shifts from bloody to comedic for a double date story that tips its hat to the sillier Superman/Batman stuff from the Golden Age. In “Super Friends,” Bruce and Selina take in a night at a carnival with Clark Kent and Lois Lane. King, Clay Mann, co-inker Seth Mann, and Bellaire go all out with the premise. The characters wear each other’s superhero costumes. Lois and Selina get drunk from a flask. Superman and Batman swing at baseballs. By and large, it’s genuinely fun. Clay Mann’s rendering of Clark Kent in the Batsuit, glasses and all, is hilarious.

It does, however, raise one of the issues I often have with King’s writing: He can go a little off the deep end with the banter. It’s not so much an issue in “Super Friends,” as it’s a blatant comedy. But when you have, for instance, a high-stakes tale about Batman and Catwoman confronting Talia and the League of Assassins, going too heavy on the banter can cut into the drama.

Case in point, when we open issue #34, Batman and Catwoman are surrounded by assassins, hell bent on cutting them to pieces. This is a portion of the dialogue we get just before the fighting gets underway…

B: “Cat, I may be wearing a leather bat costume. But do I look dumb enough to make fun of you?
C: “I don’t know, Bat. Do I look dumb enough to not know what ‘a lot’ is?”
B: “No. You look lovely.”
C: “Sure, you say that now. Wait’ll I’ve got their blood all over me.”

One of King’s greatest strengths in writing Batman is how he conveys the connection between Batman and Catwoman. But even by couple-bickering standards, stuff like this is overindulgent. Sadly, this book is hardly the end of it.

3. Woundmates

I read an article not long ago that introduced me to the term “woundmate.”¬† Long story short, it’s someone with whom you share a similar kind of trauma, or unsolved emotional problems and as such they feel like a soulmate. But in the end, they aren’t.

Re-reading “Some of These Days” from Batman Annual #2 reminded me of that article. Because in the end, that’s what Bruce and Selina are. Woundmates. That’s beautifully, and literally, illustrated by Lee Weeks as he channels his inner David Mazzucchelli. The story is obviously meant to be an extension of Batman: Year One, but it doesn’t work at all without Weeks.

Michael Lark is tagged in for the last few pages, as we time-jump to a potential future where Bruce and Selina have grown old together. Again, poignant. And downright touching when you get right down to it. I love Gotham Central as much as anybody, so I’ll never complain about seeing Lark back on a Bat-book.

4. A Deeper Connection

King uses the annual to retcon Batman and Catwoman’s history so they have a deeper connection. Most notable is that they discover one another’s identities very early on. I can’t say I love that, but I don’t hate it either.

What I’m not necessarily a fan of is Catwoman’s motivation in the story. She breaks into Wayne Manor multiple times, and later reveals she’s been doing it to essentially sharpen Batman’s edges so he doesn’t get killed. (See above image.)

Frankly, I just don’t buy it. Maybe I’m too hung up on the classic Batman/Catwoman presentation where they’re simply flirtatious. I can accept Selina being able to penetrate the walls Bruce has put up and catch him off guard. I can accept the idea that she cares about him. But something just isn’t right about the notion that she takes time out of her life to sharpen Batman’s skills. Remember how early in her career this is supposed to be. Early on, Catwoman is a hardened thief out for herself. She may have a heart of gold underneath it all, but that only extends so far…

5. The Verdict

The Rules of Engagement isn’t a must-read, even if you’re simply following the wedding storyline. It has the same flaws as most of Tom King’s Batman run. There is, however, some amazing art to be seen. I can’t help but be partial to Lee Weeks, but it’s also a strong outing for Joelle Jones. And if, like me, you’re a fan of the way King writes Bruce and Selina’s chemistry, you’ll enjoy it.

For more of Tom King’s run on Batman, check out I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane, Batman/The Flash: The Button, and The War of Jokes and Riddles.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

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Panels of Awesomeness: Batman #51 by Lee Weeks

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Tom King (Author), Lee Weeks (Artist), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

THE SCENE: As he recovers from Selina Kyle leaving him before their wedding, Bruce Wayne’s emotions overcome him while he’s serving jury duty.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: I actually debated on whether to spotlight these pages for “Panels of Awesomeness.” But it’s been awhile since Batman #51 hit the stands, and I still find myself coming back to it. That moment where Bruce Wayne pulls the urinal off the wall and screams out at the reader is branded into my brain. Maybe it’s because of the sheer unusualness of a man ripping a urinal out of the wall.

But in talking about the awesomeness of that page, it’s important to factor in the previous one. Our hero is in full-on Bruce Wayne mode, when he feels this seemingly unprovoked emotional outburst coming on. More than versed in keeping secrets from the world at large, he maintains his calm, excuses himself, and lets loose.

For yours truly, this¬† “Cold Days” story has been one of the highlights of Tom King’s Batman run. It’s evocative of the Batman stories Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker wrote in the early to mid 2000s. Think Gotham Central, Officer Down, etc. It’s got a police procedural/courtroom drama feel to it, along with that emotional undercurrent we see in Bruce. Furthermore, it’s got a heck of a finale. Even if you’re not into the whole Batman/Catwoman marriage thing, it’s worth checking out.

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A Superman: Lois and Clark #1 Review – Super Dad

Superman: Lois and Clark #1TITLE: Superman: Lois and Clark #1
AUTHOR: Dan Jurgens
PENCILLER: Lee Weeks
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 14, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It would be unfair to say that Lois and Clark relies entirely on nostalgia to carry itself. But let’s be honest: For those of us who sting long for the pre-New 52 era, that’s a big factor. If you were first exposed to DC Comics in the ’80s, ’90s, or 2000s, this is your Superman. The post Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint Superman. Not to mention Lois Lane, and their young son Jon.

After the events of Convergence, Clark, Lois, and baby Jonathan find themselves on the New 52 Earth mere hours before the events of Justice League: Origin. In a very different world, the family changes their last name to White and begins a life of relative anonymity. Lois begins publishing books under the name “Author X,” while Clark works as a farmer. Young Jonathan is oblivious of his parents’ old life. But with Clark unable to stay out of the game entirely, his son is starting to pick up on things.

Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksIt’s an interesting move, bringing these versions of Clark and Lois back. I read one reviewer say that DC is trying to “have its cake and eat it too” with this title. That’s a fair critique. After all, the “main” version of Superman has had his identity exposed to the world, is de-powered, and has never been in a relationship with Lois Lane. To bring the married versions of these characters back, existing in the same universe alongside their New 52 counterparts, might be considered a cheap move. It’s undeniably a ploy to bring back older readers. But even if it is a cheap ploy, it’s got the potential to be a pretty good one. This issue consists mostly of exposition and character re-introductions. But some compelling seeds are planted for future issues.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read Convergence: Superman (also by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks) yet, so the circumstances of Jonathan’s birth aren’t fully known to me. But there is one thing I’m confused about. Justice League: Origin took place “five years ago,” right? And that was in 2011, so we might be able to say that it was six years ago. In this issue, we see that Jon was a baby at that point. But according to the solicitation for this issue, Jon is nine years old. How does that work?

Superman, Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksRegardless, seeing pre-New 52 Clark and Lois again is awesome for a longtime fan like me, in the hands of renowned Superman scribe Dan Jurgens no less. There’s one moment in particular that hits you right in the feels. Jurgens and Weeks revisit the final moments of the Justice League’s battle with Darkseid in Origin. Then in the background, we zoom in on a familiar figure. Then we cut to a splash page of the Man of Steel himself watching from afar. For a longtime fan like me, this was a heart-warmer. I remember the initial awkwardness of the New 52. But these pages almost tell us: “Guess what? Superman, your Superman, was there all along.” It’s a hokey notion. But it made for the kind of feel-good moment that I suspect this series aims to provide.

Much of the issue consists of Clark and Lois awkwardly reciting exposition, via both dialogue and narration, the latter being done by Lois Lane. If it had just been Lois, that would have been fine. But there’s an obvious contrived nature to Clark saying lines like: “When we were first imprisoned on Telos, we didn’t know our Earth — our whole universe, was gone forever.”

A portion of the issue is devoted to Clark trying to prevent the space shuttle crash that turned Hank Henshaw into Cyborg Superman. This notion of Clark and Lois trying to alter events in this timeline to prevent certain tragedies that occurred in their timeline is interesting, and is certainly a goal worth revisiting in future issues. Though I suspect their interference it’ll wind up having more negative effects than positive.

Superman: Lois and Clark #1, Lee WeeksLee Weeks does some fantastic work in this issue. His work has a certain elegance to it that is very much befitting of this version of Superman. He’s also tremendous at conveying this Superman’s advanced wisdom and experience strictly via his art, without making the character look old, per se. Look at Clark’s face on the cover. It’s not just the beard and the glasses. It’s the eyes. It’s the line work on his face. I would argue once we get into the issue you can see it in his posture. Weeks has the opportunity to do some fantastic work here.

Also, can we please keep Tony Daniel away from this title? He did a variant cover for this issue, and it was everything we don’t want it to look like.

Lois and Clark is an interesting little experiment for DC. They brought their multiverse back in Convergence, and this is the first time since then that they’re making major use of it. A successful run for this book could pave the way for the return of other characters. Hell, in this very issue we saw that Parallax/Hal Jordan is out there in the multiverse somewhere…

Image 1 from dangermart.blogspot.com. Image 2 from comicsverse.com. Image 3 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

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