1. Batman by Tom King and Various Artists (DC)
Tom King spent the first half of 2018 building to the wedding between Catwoman and Batman, and most of us knew it would never really happen. But it wasn’t the journey, it was the destination. Each arc focused on a different criminal’s relationship with Batman, and each had a different, amazing artist. When it came to Joker, he and Batman’s fiancee slowly bled out on the floor of a church, telling tales and plotting each other’s demise, and psychoanalyzing the man they both love more than anything. Absolute Tarantino brilliance. No one needs to write the next Batman movie—this is it.
And then we got to the promised issue: #50. And once again, it was the quiet character moments, like the one above (referencing Gerry Conway) powerfully depicted the intimacy in Batman and Alfred’s relationship. It didn’t stretch the boundaries or even develop the characters, really, but we saw a level of affection never before seen in Batman and, in fact, rarely seen in comics at all…
Batman and Alfred hugged for what I’m pretty sure was the first time in history.
Why don’t we see more bro hugs in comics? In real life, they’re happening all day every day between macho guys who make it their career to save lives and risk their own. Why don’t we see them? Because most comic book writers have never done it. Tom King has. His personal history as a combat operative lends a humanity to Batman we’ve simply never seen before.
And back to #50 again: Almost every page was drawn by a past Batman artist, and the references to past creators were bountiful.
And by the end, we saw Batman as vulnerable, nervous to get married, truly in love. And we saw Alfred, the proud parental stand-in, staying right there with him—understanding him in a way even deeper than Catwoman.
Ultimately, we all know, she chose not to marry him because he “needed” to be unhappy to be Batman (although Alfred said the opposite, opining that the wedding was a blessing because he needed a little joy in order to continue his life as Batman). And that led to an all out war with Bane. Yeah, we got to the action eventually. But there was no rush.
Tom King’s Batman is, quite simply, the perfect superhero comic.