The last issue of Batman delivered a touching display of mutual respect and friendship. Now it’s double date time for the World’s Finest and their better halves in Batman #37… and we get to tag along as fifth wheel!
We’ve already seen a few “dates” between Bat and Cat at this point.
Like Batman’s idea of a good time in “Rooftops,” which involved, what else, beating up a slew of criminals before rooftop rumbusticating with Catwoman.
In “Rules of Engagement,” the newly engaged Bat and Cat braved the deserts of Khadym to confront the only other woman to have claimed Batman’s heart: the mother of his child, Talia al Ghul.
And in the emotionally stirring Batman Annual #2, Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, past and present, is reinforced more assuredly than we’ve ever seen.
Batman #37 is different in that it’s the first real date between Bruce and Selina (from our perspective anyways). I wanted to say “out of costume,” but that’s only for the first few pages of part two of “SuperFriends,” which sees Bruce, Clark, Lois and Selina roll up to the Gotham County Fair… where they’re immediately stopped short by professional Hearthstone player Trump, who tells them they can’t get into “Superhero Night” without appropriate attire.
First, what kind of kid from Gotham doesn’t recognize Bruce Wayne when he sees him? That’s like living in Palo Alto, California and snubbing Mark Zuckerberg. Or living in the Philippines and not sacrificing your first-born child to Manny Pacquiao. It just doesn’t happen. But I digress…
Because it’s a funny scene. And the impetus for Batman to slip into Superman’s iconic longjohns and vice versa. The ladies garment-swap too, Lois donning the form-fitting Catwoman suit and Selina slipping into one of Lois’ long-sleeved mini-dresses.
From there: hot dogs on sticks, high striker attendants dressed like Lobo in basketball shorts, a hilarious Tunnel of Love sequence and Batman and Superman taking swings in the batting cage while Lois and Selina gossip and sip from a smuggled stainless-steel flask. There are a few surprises thrown into the mix, but other than that, this is an issue that’s exactly as advertised: a fun carnival outing between (super)friends. Coolin’ with the Super-Homies.
King’s dialogue is, for lack of a better word, real. Sure, there are a few forced lines here and there but overall Batman engages in some of the most genuine conversation you’ll ever see the character have; he’s not interrogating an unremitting criminal or formulating some strategy to save the world — he’s just finally, truly among friends and a best friend in Superman — and it’s a breath of fresh air. There are lines in this issue that will stick with you long after the last page is turned. Beneath bouts of friendly bravado between the two guys and playful criticism from the gals, there are confessions of vulnerability; uncertainty at what’s to come from married life.
“I don’t know how it’s supposed to work… I’m in the dark,” Bruce says at one point. For all his vast prep-time sapience and unearthly tactical intelligence, Bruce is as mystified by love as you or I.
“So, you’re in the dark. I was in the dark too, with Lois, I remember,” Clark replies. “But what I also remember, pal… you do all right in the dark.”
King doesn’t just label Bruce and Clark as Superfriends. He shows us.
The art team of Clay Mann (pencils), Seth Mann (inks) and Jordie Bellaire (colors) show us something too — crisp, detailed linework, realistic anatomies and physiognomy and an earthy palette mixed with the bright lights of the fairground. The highlight of the issue is one that helps emphasize the circuitous nature of conversation: a pair of nine-panel pages featuring alternating headshots of the four friends eating ice cream overlaid with scaled down images of them walking throughout a blurred backdrop of gaudy festival lights.
Is It Good?
Batman #37 is a fun, charming comic — plain and simple. A Silver Age story infused with a modern day twist, “Superfriends” Part Two will make you laugh, make you think, and by issue’s end, unable to wipe the smile off your face.