“Cat, I may be wearing a leather bat costume… But do I look crazy enough to make fun of you?”

Tom King continues his rule with the latest installment in “The Rules of Engagement” arc. Bruce and Selina are both engaged and engaged by several masked warriors. They’re merely pawns of the larger foe at hand. Revealed in the previous issue, Talia Al Ghul is the target of our heroes. They cross a forbidden threshold to get there. Talia holds a woman who could be the key to absolving Catwoman of a heinous crime. It’s a good and just cause that Batman would happily see through, especially with a loved one at his side.

Joelle Jones once again provides amazing art in Batman #34. Her touch is unique and helps to give this a completely independent tone from the stories of Mikel Janin or David Finch. With Jones, the art feels more exotic. A classic touch that feels as foreign as the location contained therein.

Where, Oh Where

Not much happens in the issue. Unfortunately, Batman #34 serves the same purpose as the previous issue: to set-up the fight with Talia. Instead the most interesting aspect of the story is its setting. From the very beginning, seeing Batman in his leather-clad outfit was worth the price of admission alone. The setting has King putting our heroes in the most opposite location they could be in: one that lacks any shadow. Under the sun in the open desert Batman and Catwoman are as exposed as ever. They’re vulnerable. A perfect situation for them to now face one of Bruce’s most deadliest and dangerous villains ever. His ex.

The story is unfortunately simple. There’s a great action set-piece as Selina and Bruce battle against dozens of silenced warriors. King mixes humor into the drama well by having the two vigilantes chatting away while battling their foes. It’s a small detail but one that continues the hilarious trend of Batman being so effortlessly good at any aspect of his job, that he can focus his attention elsewhere. The fact that Selina is just as versed in the talent makes for a great character trait for the two to share.

Keeping Up with the Jones’s

Once again, Joelle Jones impresses with her art. She adds a certain mystique to King’s already adventurous story, one that gives an unmistakable allure. Her style is a huge compliment to the story. Batman and Catwoman have never looked better, with the caped crusader sporting one of his coolest outfits in recent memory. She takes simple designs from DC’s past and gloriously realizes them in the present. She’s an unmistakable talent and one that can hopefully be in the Batman family for more than one arc.

Jordie Bellaire once again proves her brilliance. The desert isn’t comprised of a lot of color. Instead, it’s the cleverness of the shading and the shadowing that can give a simple setting new life. Bellaire has always had that particular skill and utilizes it to the utmost in Batman #34.

The Verdict

The Rules of Engagement” is a simple story. Bruce and Selina are after a woman. One who has framed Catwoman for a heinous crime, and the subject of one of Tom King’s previous arcs. To get to her, the couple have to face the mother of Damian, Talia. If only Batman #34 didn’t build up to the same encounter with Talia set up in the previous issue. Despite that, it’s an entertaining few pages that continue the high standard set by the previous arcs. Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire make for an exciting duet that perform beautifully. Batman isn’t in Gotham, far and away from the land and city he knows so well. But that is one of the most interesting parts of both the plot and the art. It’s a simple and straightforward adventure with the gritty, gorgeous pencils to go with it.

Tom King knows how to tell a compelling story and does so with ease. It’s a funny and fun tale that reminds the readers just how awesome the world of Batman can be.

 

Comic Book Review: Batman #34
The Score9.5
Pros
  • Tom King's Excellent Scripts
  • Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire Are an Unstoppable Force
  • Bats and Cats Looking their Best!
Cons
  • Too Much Set-Up, Not Enough Pay-Off
9.5Overall Score
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