Batman and Catwoman encounter Talia Al Ghul’s forces as they continue their quest to meet with Bruce’s ‘ex’. Meanwhile, Damian Wayne and Dick Grayson are hot on their trail with questions and a plan to stop the newly engaged couple from possibly starting an international incident and getting themselves killed.
‘Rules of Engagement’ Part 2
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Joelle Jones
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
The last issue was the start of this new storyline, but this issue is where I think it really kicks into gear. Not only do we finally get to see Talia in full League of Assasins butt-kicking glory, we also see Batman and Catwoman throw down hard themselves. There are some excellent fight scenes here and they give the issue a brisk pace that makes it fun.
Another standout aspect was the fantastic back-and-forth between Bruce and Selina. Tom King has often said his run will ultimately be about the relationship these two have, and this issue certainly supports that. The chemistry created between the two leaps off the page. There were several moments that made me chuckle. But it’s much more than just cute and clever, as you also get a sense of how formidable a team Bruce and Selina make. Selina pulling the sword out of Bruce’s shoulder to take it up against Talia is one of the most bad-ass moves I have seen from Catwoman (and I read most of the Brubaker run a few years ago).
I have to say though that if I had to pick a favorite moment it would be the scene with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. This is a pairing I have always loved seeing, and King also nails this duo. More so than any other of Batman’s sidekicks/surrogate sons, these two feel and act like brothers. There is genuine warmth portrayed between the two here, especially at the end of the scene. And Damian threatening Superman with black magic is probably going to be one of my favorite character moments for Damian ever. It was PERFECT (and pretty hysterical). The whole scene that ends with Superman flying off and Dick’s comment of “He can still see you from Central City” actually made me laugh out loud.
Joelle Jones and Jordie Bellaire are a great art team to pair with this story. Jones’ style lends itself well to the desert setting and costumes everyone is wearing. The thick line work (even on the panel borders) adds grit and weight to the images. There is also some great layout and composition to the pages; one fight sequence with long, angled panels is particularly striking.
Bellaire continues to be one of the best colorists in the business. The palate here adds to the mood, creating an almost sandy and dusty feel. You can feel the sunlight and desert heat bathing the characters.
I really like where this arc is going and how at its core is all a family drama. Yes, it has Batman and Catwoman fighting tongueless desert ninjas but it’s really about a man trying to tie up loose ends before a marriage and the sons who want to understand what this new marriage might mean for them in the future. Tom King continues to probe different aspects of the Caped Crusader and I am staying on board.