If you somehow didn't know already that Tom King is killing it on just about everything as of late, Batman #33 is here to hammer that point home.
Kicking off the 'Rules of Engagement' storyline, the thirty third issue of King's run picks up where The War of Jokes and Riddles left off, with Bruce and Selina newly engaged and preparing to take on the whole world to make it work, if need be. Sending the Bat and Cat duo off to Kandahar for reasons unknown, King sets the stage for the issue to discuss the fallout surrounding their romance, with each member of the Bat-fam having their own thoughts and doubts on the move that, to them at least, seemed to come out of nowhere.
And that's where the genius of the book lies: King takes the chance to address the divisive nature of the move in a way that feels organic and totally clever, providing a character-driven feel to a comic that has, before his reign at least, had the tendency to get caught up in climactic events more than it has the personal struggles of its leads.
Then there's Joëlle Jones' art, which is just phenomenal in every sense of the word. Literally everything looks good in this book, with Jones' style lending the series an expressive feel that compliments King's script with an epic yet personal tone. Everything is coming together in this series, and if it's still too early to say thirty three issues in that this could, in all seriousness, be one of the best Bat-runs of all time, when won't it?
Tom King has followed up on his critically acclaimed Jokes and Riddles arc with a banger of an opening that's bound to raise a few eyebrows once the dust settles. While the book's newfound direction will prove to be divisive among the Bat-faithful, King's determination to tell an altogether different kind of Bat-tale must surely be commended.
It places the character in bold new territory, and while things might not be looking up for the duo just yet (it's clear that they've got a whole lot to overcome before those wedding bells start ringing), this newfound Bat-Cat focus is a welcome change of pace for DC's flagship title.
Time will only tell if the pairing's meant to be, but at least the journey there is shaping up to be an exciting one. With Dark Nights: Metal owning a more storied Batman, and with the main title playing up on his more dramatic elements, Bat-fans have been well and truly catered for. Here's hoping it continues.
Do you think Batman and Catwoman will last beyond 'The Rules of Engagement'? Let us know in the comments below!