By Alex Batts — This week’s Batman #79 is the second part of an interlude within the City of Bane story arc. The last issue saw Batman and Catwoman spending quality couples time on a beautiful island. The two battled their feelings for each other, trying to overcome personal faults to be together. As with last week, writer Tom King is joined here by artist Clay Mann and colorist Tomeu Morey, with Clayton Cowles on letters. This issue is a great conclusion to a break from the chaos of City of Bane.
*Spoilers for Batman #79 follow. For final thoughts and a numbered rating, see the OVERALL section at the bottom of this review*
Batman #78 ended with the long-awaited full reunion of Batman and Catwoman, wherein the couple admitted their love for each other and shared desire to make things work. The last issue saw them engaging in a lot of “normal” couple activities on the island. This week, we see them continuing this. The back and forth dialogue between the two is strong as ever. There’s a lot of cute sarcasm between them, but you can also feel the weight of the situation they find themselves in. Gotham has been completely taken over, and they know it’s up to them to save it.
The issue opened similarly to last week’s, in that the first page was a full splash recreating what Catwoman keeps insisting is the pairs first meeting, on the streets during Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. It’s thematically rich that these two issues open with the two meeting stories Batman and Catwoman have disagreed about throughout almost the entirety of this run. And it leads to more back and forth, and an eventual resolution about which of them is right.
Mann and Morey’s art is just as splendid here as it was last week. I honestly don’t know if Bruce and Selina have ever looked better. Seeing them in the island setting is also refreshing. We learn that the events of this issue and last take place before Batman #77, as in the middle of the issue Bruce and Selina are standing watching the sunset and Bruce says that he’s going to send Damian into Gotham. Before this we see the pair getting drinks at a bar, overhearing on the news the severity of the Gotham situation.
The bartender talks about how Batman (who we know is Thomas) finally has the guts to do things right, using extreme methods to keep the city under control. The bartender talks about how terrible Gotham is and that he’s happy someone is finally doing something about it. This, of course, leads to Selina punching him in the face. Afterward though, it leads to a conversation in which Selina is telling Bruce that that’s how everyone not from Gotham views the city. That no one really cares how things are there, and that it’s only up to them to save it.
This issue next gives us Batman and Catwoman in full costume doing what they do best, taking down criminals. Over the course of a few superb splash pages, we’re given a return to the boat vs. street conversation. This time though, we finally get a resolution by the end of the issue. Catwoman wants Batman to admit that it was the street first. Her reasoning is that on the boat, he was already in costume, and had Robin as a sidekick. He’d been Batman for a while at this point, yet on the street he was still figuring himself out. When she mentioned, this I silently shamed myself for not thinking of this line of thought earlier.
Before we get the final resolution to the boat vs street argument, Batman and Catwoman board a ship led by Magpie that’s transporting a large stock of venom, which is the drug Bane uses to boost his strength. The two make quick work of the goons on board and inform Magpie that they’re taking everything. Magpie quips that she bets they have a message for her to send back to Bane. Catwoman replies, with one of my favorite lines of the series, “Oh honey, don’t you get it? He’s Batman. I’m Catwoman. We are the message.” The last line is delivered on a full splash of Catwoman and Batman with a full moon behind them, and it’s so breathtaking and powerful.
After they’ve accomplished their mission, we find the two on the beach again. Bruce admits that he remembers the street and that it happened before he’d fully formed the idea of Batman. He goes on to say that on the boat, it was after he’d embraced his identity as the Caped Crusader. He saw it as his truth meeting hers, the Bat and the Cat meeting for the first time. But now, after everything that’s happened, now that he knows he can be more than the Bat and more than the vow, he thinks they can meet again for the first time. The issue ends with the two agreeing that they met on the beach as they stroll into the sunset.
I cannot commend King’s character work enough. We’ve seen them go through incredible highs and heartbreaking lows over these 79 issues. To have the boat and street debate come to an end in such a fulfilling and character-building way is nothing short of phenomenal. The lows we felt in the middle and the despair of watching them both build back to this point has been more than worth the wait. The pair are completely united in everything they do moving forward and it’s amazing.
Overall: Batman #79 completes the double-dose of BatCat content you always wanted. King’s writing and planning combine with masterclass art from Mann and Morey. We’re reaching the crescendo of this run, and it’s nothing but peaks. 10/10
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Inkers: Clay Mann and Seth Mann
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
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Alex Batts is from Texas. A lifelong comic book enthusiast and movie lover, if he’s not talking about comics, he’s probably not talking. You can find him on Twitter by following @BatmanFiles