BATMAN #33 By Tom King, Joëlle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire
BATMAN #33 is an entertaining issue by Tom King, Joëlle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire. While the character development is fabulous, problems with the art as well as an uninspired story prevent this comic from reaching its potential.
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Not Your Average Engagement Party

BATMAN #33 is all setup, not a lot of substance. It feels like Tom King is writing more straightforward stories for Batman right now. That’s an understandable thing for King to do with his BATMAN run since DARK NIGHTS: METAL is already doing so much complicated stuff with the character. While the writing is quite good here, and the art by Joëlle Jones and Jordie Bellaire is very respectable, the story doesn’t do enough to draw the reader in. Unless you’re a huge Batman fan, I would understand wanting to skip this issue for more exciting current DC content.

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The Lone Riders

After becoming engaged, Bruce and Selina go on a journey in what looks like the Middle East. They travel to the fictional country of Khadym, where they team up with Nightwing’s friend, Tiger. In BATMAN #33, Tiger guides them through his country and helps Batman and Catwoman on their quest.

BATMAN #33 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

First of all, I am a huge sucker for Batman on a horse. One of my favorite images from THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is Batman riding on a black horse into battle. This comic is very much a tribute to that image. It also evokes one of my favorite films, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. We see Bruce and Selina ride through the dunes of this country on horseback as they struggle to survive the intense heat. It’s a fun and unusual adventure for Batman.

The one problem is that King never tells us until the last page why Bruce and Selina are traveling to Khadym. He’s trying to keep everything a mystery except the mystery in this comic isn’t interesting enough to grab my attention. I love the genre throwback of this comic immensely but, unless King gives me a reason to care about this adventure, this just looks like some cool images of Batman and Catwoman traveling through the desert. I enjoy the concept, but I could see the slow pace of this adventure pushing away readers. If King had started with the reveal of why Bruce and Selina traveled to Khaydim, I think I would have had far more interest in the story of BATMAN #33.

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Dad Did What!?!?

The B-Story of this comic is much more comedic and involves four of the five Robins lounging in Wayne Manor. This issue does an excellent job capturing the different personalities of his proteges through their physicality. Jason Todd is wrestling with Ace the Bat-Hound for his leather jacket. Dick Grayson and Duke Thomas are relaxing on the couch. Damian is brooding in the corner while reading “The Lady Killer Murders of 1961″ (a reference to Joëlle Jone’s series, THE LADY KILLERS).

BATMAN #33 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

What all these Robins have in common is that they worry excessively about Bruce, their father. They’re used to Bruce keeping “deep, dark secrets from everyone” that “threatens to destroy everyone and everything.” What they don’t expect is a major revelation about Bruce’s personal developments.

Like Father Like Sons

The scenes in which the Robins fret and complain about Bruce’s poor life choices are the highlight of this BATMAN #33. Not only do we see how each of the Boy Wonders view their relationship with Bruce, but also how they view their role in the greater Bat-Family. Dick is clearly the peacekeeper, as he tries to calm down the other Robin’s from their frustration with Bruce. Jason is the hotheaded Robin, ready to take his feelings out on others. Damian acts strong for his father, but in reality, he often needs his father’s approval to support his own self-worth. Then there’s Duke, who was never officially a Robin but nonetheless a Batman protégé. Duke feels isolated from the rest of the Robins. He hasn’t figured out what his place will be among them.

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Watching all of these young men rave about their father is amusing, but also very touching. It further highlights the important relationship between Batman and his Robins. Hopefully, they can save Bruce from any rash decisions he’ll inevitably make.

Art in BATMAN #33

BATMAN #33 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Besides a few issues, Joëlle Jones and Jordie Bellaire create some impressive artwork in BATMAN #33. The standout panels have to be the early pages depicting the reddish-yellow sand of the desert. Bellaire’s colors here are so rich. These images say a lot with little dialogue. So Jones and Bellaire perfectly represent the themes of a classic adventure or western with these two vigilantes riding into the sunrise together. While Catwoman and Batman are traditionally loners, they’re only able to survive this arduous journey when together. It’s a beautiful tribute to the union of the two lovers.

On The Other Hand…

As for the flaws with the art, they’re mostly focused on the depictions of certain characters. For one, I think that Catwoman looks a little too small in this comic. It looks like Batman could break her with one hand. I understand that Cat is very slender and flexible so that she can sneak and fit through things. Yet in BATMAN #33 she doesn’t just look slender, she looks tiny. I like it when Selina and Bruce appear as equals, like they are equally as strong as the other. In this issue, it looks like Catwoman is physically dependent on Batman.

BATMAN #33 page 14. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

My other critique would have to be the physical depiction of the Robins. All of them, except for Duke Thomas, look way too similar to each other and Batman. Of course, this is understandable since all of the Robins were originally drawn to have the same black hair, muscular build, and blue eyes as Bruce. However, post-New 52 relaunch, I have found that DC has done a great job distinguishing between the Robins through haircuts and distinct facial features. This issue gets rid of all the effort that DC has put into differentiating these characters and makes them all look like mini-Batmen. If Tom King and his team want to have the Robins have specific personalities, it’s necessary to also let them have unique looks.

Final Thoughts

BATMAN #33 is a good issue but, with all the other great comics coming out this month about the Caped Crusader, it’s hard to not find it a little underwhelming. It feels like books such as DARK NIGHTS: METAL, BATMAN: THE WHITE NIGHT, and the nightmare Batmen anthology series have really driven discussion about Batman for the last few weeks. I think if King wants to have his work resonate amongst all this content, he has to step up his game. The dialogue and characters have all been consistently great; we just need a fascinating story that we can really savor.

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I loved “The War of Jokes and Riddles” so I’m willing to give King my patience with this arc. With the reveal at the end of this issue, there are some interesting places that King can bring his next installment. I’ll appreciate the Batman and Catwoman storyline far more if we understand the stakes and purpose behind their mission. So let’s hope Tom King, Joëlle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire can deliver on this in BATMAN #34!

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