Subway Shorts – Bromance

Tom King brings the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader together for some awkward moments between friends in the latest issue of Batman.

Batman 36
Written by Tom King 
Art by Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Jordie Bellaire

In the Silver Age, there were no greater friends in the DC Comics Universe than Batman and Superman. But as Batman grew more grim and gritty and universes were rebooted, their friendship fell somewhat to the wayside. With the latest iterations of the heroes, Superman and Batman are back to being close friends, the light and dark balance of the Justice League that keep each other in check.

Tom King is exploring the dynamic between them in the latest issue of BATMAN, though I admit to being a bit disappointed in the way he characterized the World’s Finest friendship here. After Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle got engaged earlier this year, it seems, neither Bruce not Clark Kent got in touch with the other to discuss the exciting news. And some time has apparently passed, so neither man wants to budge on being the one to reach out to call the other, despite their significant others urging them to make the call.

Lois Lane and Selina Kyle are the stars of this issue, pushing to get through the stubborn attitudes of their partners. Selina reminds Bruce that he calls Clark his closest friend (because Jim Gordon – who doesn’t know Batman’s identity – and Alfred – who is on Bruce’s payroll – don’t count). While Lois tries to push Clark past any notions that Bruce doesn’t consider Clark to be a good friend.

The two heroes seem to have similar thoughts of “why would he be friends with me” that real friends don’t really go through as they justify their distance from the other. Thankfully, Batman and Superman find they’re both working on the same case, which leads to a fun page.

King’s version of the World’s Finest friendship is tense and maybe a little strained, and it really does nothing for me overall. Compared to the relationship established earlier in the Rebirth era by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason on Superman – where Bruce and Clark act like true friends – King’s portrayal is definitely lacking.

While I haven’t been a fan of KIng’s writing on the book, the art is amazing. Clay Mann’s pencils are so expressive, and he draws one of the best Lois Lanes I’ve ever seen.

I dropped the Batman book after King’s “War of Jokes and Riddles” because the pacing of the book was driving me crazy. King’s pacing hasn’t changed any, as the book’s 20 pages of story are basically all set up for whatever King has planned for the next issue. I’ll stick around for that, but I certainly haven’t turned around on the book as a whole.