Sweet lord almighty that Tom King guy is kind of coming into his own at an aggressive rate with this here Batman character. I mean seriously, if not the top-notch storytelling, King's use of the Batman character repertoire has been done perfectly and in ways that sneak up on you.
Lee Weeks jumps in and does a smash-up job at keeping up with Bat and Cat's pace while delivering some absolutely killer panels and a splash that I soon won't forget. Without giving anything away, it's a wide shot of Batman and Catwoman on a rooftop and I just absolutely fell in love with the watercolor-esque dark, fading colors as these two continue to play cat and mouse.
Now, here come some minor spoilers from the Batman Annual #2 due out Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Since King took over on the main Bat title, he has done an absolutely stellar job of growing the Batman and Catwoman dynamic for a fresh audience. Now, we're in an annual issue here which is important to remember, but absolutely do not let that take you away from the story being told in this issue.
It's an absolutely emotional roller-coaster that uses nostalgia to set up a blow -- or jump into the future -- that you will never see coming. We start off with Cat sneaking in and stealing the still-unnamed Batmobile "near the beginning" of our character's story.
It continues to set up this cat and mouse dynamic that while the Batman is good and masterfully trained, he remains one step behind the cat. As you continue to follow King's story, you start to realize that Batman isn't a step behind Selina, but that she is his weakness or even his love interest as he continues trying to stop her from running.
Weeks artwork really shines in these scenes as he captures absolutely everything he needed to capture to show how desperate, frantic and taken off his game Bruce Wayne was by Cat's continued break-ins and escapes. Bruce is shown sprinting and lunging over things through his home as he has a shouting conversation with Selina, who brilliantly remains out of frame.
See Bruce chase her all the way to the window before he realized that if he leaps through after the Cat, that the police will have some questions for the billionaire who just jumped out of his window after a villain like James freaking Bond.
I found this to be god damn brilliant, and even found myself giggling in amusement at Cat's clever trap. After some more classic romantic and intimate talks, Cat continues to run until our characters meet on the rooftop's and realize that they are truly one in the same.
They don't want each other to die, and Selina has some killer dialogue once these two start to truly connect. Weeks, who handled pages 1-30, really impressed me with his ability to come from wide to close, in motion to still and his seamless use of placing Batman over the more structured panels.
Props are due to Michael Lark, as well, because without his work on the final five pages what are we left with? He sends us home with versions of these characters that are unknown to many, but he keeps them recognizable, empathetic and relatable. Big fan of the artwork in this book, the change did not distract me at all.
Much like a crazy structured King-Mitch Gerads book, this issue at times feels like a Jackson Pollack painting that makes sense. We've got a little something here, over here, slightly overlapping here, but it all comes together and enhances the story.
I am not going to spoil the big change, peak into the future or any of that, but let's just say that this creative team covered all the bases to make the big moment hit you like a ton of bricks. From the use of Barry Allen's name to the final page of this issue, Batman Annual #2 is a book you can't afford to miss.
Rating: 10/10: When it comes to annuals, this is the absolute cream of the crop. Tom King somehow keeps getting better, and that's f***** scary.