By Cat Wyatt
Batman #40 starts off with Batman and Wonder Woman still stuck defending us against the everlasting horde, all so that the standard guard, the Gentle Man, can have a chance to visit his wife. The catch? The Gentleman may or may not have failed to mention the slight time difference between the two dimensions. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s anxiously awaited the last two weeks, hoping that the hinted at event wouldn’t actually occur.
The event I’m referring to of course is the weird near-kiss moment between Bruce and Diana. While I’m fully on the ‘this engagement to Selena Kyle isn’t going to last’ train, this is not how I wanted their relationship to end (not that I want it to end at all, more that I expect it to be inevitable). So while I’d admit the whole setup for their near miss (or should I say, near kiss? No, that’s too punny even for me) was very romantic and all, with the beautiful fire in the background giving them a dreamy glow; I’m relieved they both came to their senses on that one.
Of course, even though they’re both in agreement on what will not happen, that doesn’t exactly change the rest of their circumstances. The fact remains that they’re stuck on this side of the portal, and only the Gentle Man can open it for them. Since he didn’t warn them about the time dilation (an assumption on my part – but neither the Gentle Man nor Bruce and Diana have aged, so it seems like an accurate guess), I don’t blame them for assuming he’s abandoned them there to die. It certainly doesn’t look good.
In a situation such as this, I believe many men (and women) would break under pressure. They’d lose their faith, lose all the belief they carry in themselves. Thankfully Batman and Wonder Woman are exceptionally strong-willed, and having them together means that when one stumbles, the other is there to kick their butt back into motion. Do I believe that either one of them would have made it through this on their own? Maybe? But at least now they have better odds.
The scenes with Julian (the Gentle Man’s true name) and his wife are…heartbreaking, so say the least. I found myself torn while watching, knowing that every moment of joy for them was a year (or more) of agony for Bruce and Diana. I didn’t want to see this happy couple taken away from each other so soon…but I also understand Selena’s sentiment on the matter (after all, it’s her prerogative to take care of Bruce). Had somebody less biased been in Selena’s shoes…I’m not sure how things would have ended up. I believe that Batman and Wonder Woman could have held on for another decade or two, but the real question is; should they have to?
Which of course the answer is no, but it begs the question: Why does it have to be Julian? He stepped up sure, but why does it always have to be him? When will another step up? I agree he was wrong to lie, especially since I believe that Bruce and Diana would have answered his call, even knowing the cost (and likely would have handled being trapped there for decades more readily, knowing they weren’t being abandoned).
Maybe this is my relief talking, but this was a pretty interesting issue on the whole. I love stories that make you think. This one certainly had me wondering about the ethical and moral obligations involved here. There were some smaller, less noteworthy moments I loved in this issue as well, such as Diana accepting that being a thief doesn’t equal being a bad person (obviously I’m talking about Catwoman here). That was a nice touch.
The artwork for this issue was pretty decent on the whole, though there were some odd moments too. I loved the imagery from the panels were Bruce and Diana almost kissed (even though I was hoping they wouldn’t) – it’s just too well drawn for me to ignore. I also loved the panels where the Gentle Man was opening the portal (and donning his battle armor), that was pretty epic, if I may say so. Meanwhile, there was one scene where Wonder Woman got grappled by a monster, and…well it looks like she’s laughing? I believe it’s supposed to be her showing the struggle she’s having, but it reads wrong. Also, am I the only one that thinks Selena Kyle looks a lot like Carrie-Anne Moss (as Harper in Jessica Jones) in this issue? Perhaps it’s just the haircut and setting combined to make me feel that way.