The Bat and the Cat. Batman and Catwoman have had a long-standing love affair throughout the history DC Comics. Her first appearance was way back in 1940 with Selina Kyle debuting in Batman #1. This burning affection has lasted decades and gone through many incarnations, from famous comic storylines like The Long Halloween, Hush and The Brave and the Bold #197 to Detective Comics #557. Their flirtation went beyond comics as well, making its way into the 1960’s Batman TV series and feature films Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises. The most recent version comes from Tom King’s Batman Rebirth. Titled Batman: I Am Suicide, this mini-series runs through issues #9-13, where Batman and Catwoman’s romance is once again in full swing.
The courtship is intertwined with the Caped Crusader’s suicidal crusade to retrieve Psycho-Pirate from Bane in Santa Prisca prison. Batman needs Psycho-Pirate and elicits the help of some Arkham Asylum inmates: the Ventriloquist, Bronze Tiger, Jewlee, Punchee and of course, Catwoman. They are headed to Bane’s stronghold—Santa Prisca prison, where he sits deep within its walls, protected by a high powered army.
The strength of Batman: I Am Suicide comes from the love story between Batman and Catwoman. Its most potent moments are when King shows the love letters between the two. They are heartfelt, poetic and gripping. With Batman: I Am Suicide, we really get into the heart of both masked darlings. It’s here where King’s writing succeeds; it pulls the reader into an emotional longing between the two star-crossed lovers and makes it easy to empathize with the suicidal situation they are in—one being a crime fighter, the other being a criminal. If nothing else, it makes for great drama.
Juxtapose this with the incredible and violent fight scenes in Batman: I Am Suicide, and you have something special at work here. Artist Mikel Janin does a terrific job of bringing to life Batman bashing his way through wave after wave of Bane’s machine gun touting flunkies. The splash pages are to die for in Batman: I Am Suicide, whether it’s the Dark Knight scaling the skyscraper-like walls of Santa Prisca or entering Arkham Asylum under the raining, bleak skies of Gotham.
Another success of Batman: I Am Suicide is the panel choice. This isn’t your father’s comic book. The most striking pages, outside the splash pages, are those that use a creative flair with the panel selection. Whether its panels carving out page space with dark, jagged lines or non-traditional angles, these pages give Batman: I Am Suicide its edge.
What hinders Batman: I Am Suicide though is the dialogue. At times, the repetitive nature of Batman and Catwoman’s dialogue was tedious. It takes away from the strengths described above. As well, Bane is a letdown. Coming from his momentous back-breaking work in Knightfall to his portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises, a naked Bane, sitting mostly in his chair, plotting and scheming, leaves a lot to be desired. While he does get his just deserts in the end, it too wasn’t as powerful as one would have liked.
But, if you’re interested in a good Batman story, especially one that combines a heartfelt romance with knockout action splash pages, then Batman: I Am Suicide is for you.