Although hinting at ideas such as faith and grief, volume two of the Rebirth Batman series fails to deliver on its setup.
Following a strong and focused first volume on grief and loss, Tom King’s take on Batman expands into more standard superhero fare. It benefits from a highly motivated Batman and an intriguing premise with which to introduce Catwoman. It suffers, however, from a shallow and scatterbrained plot – made especially obvious when read on the heels of the first volume.
With Gotham Girl rapidly declining, Batman is more motivated than ever to snatch up the Psycho Pirate to help her. So motivated in fact, that he’s willing to work with Amanda Waller and form his own Suicide Squad, an interesting combination of Arkham inmates that includes Catwoman, who is facing death row for an astonishing 237 kills. This team takes on Bane at Santa Prisca, where Psycho Pirate is being harbored.
The mission is obviously a success, but in the aftermath, Gotham Girl is almost entirely forgotten. Lip service is paid to the theme of grief in a letter from Batman to Catwoman, but it’s little more than that. Instead, the narrative becomes a mad rush to get Batman and Catwoman in bed together, as well as trying to understand why the Cat is lying about killing 237 people. The former happens, as does the latter, but with little surprise or new character development. The story succeeds in helping us understand the inherent attraction between the two characters as well as some nice callbacks to their meeting in the Batman mythos, but ultimately offers little more than that.
This is a disappointing turn after a promising first issue in the series that Scott Snyder handled so deftly. While there’s more to analyze in story than the amount of sexual content, the night between Bruce and Selina feels like little more than catering to fans with sex appeal. Selina is given little character development during this, although I suspect that may change as she continues to be a focus in the story. The narrative also misses some opportunities to explore the possible moral ambiguities of Batman working with Waller. Batman’s personal Suicide Squad is little more than a plot device, giving him Psycho Pirate and introducing Catwoman. Sure, Alfred says it’s a terrible idea, but that’s all there is to it.
On the nose and lacking in thematic depth, the second volume of the DC Rebirth relaunch of Batman has little to offer of substance. While one could find small things to analyze here and there (such as Bruce saying he prayed as a child and no one answered), this would be little better than grasping at straws. This story functions as a transition to get Batman and Catwoman together, and little more. Hopefully future issues will return to the strength of the story’s beginning, and explore Batman as a grieving child more fully.