Writer: Tom King / Artist: Joelle Jones / DC Comics

Issue #35 of Batman brings the brief “The Rules of Engagement” storyline to a close. If the objective of this mini-arc was to build on the Bat-Cat relationship, consider it accomplished. An additional benefit is that it simultaneously served as a character study into each character who was involved.

This issue starts off with Selina Kyle facing off against Talia al Ghul in a battle presumably to the death. Instead of them fighting over Bruce’s affections, they’re given more more appropriate motivations to make the fight believable. Talia takes the time to monologue, as anti-heroes are prone to, and details her draconian upbringing under the watch of her father. This is followed by Catwoman giving a much more succinct summary of her own experiences. But her highlight moment actually comes later.

It becomes clear through all of the fighting that these two woman love Bruce Wayne/Batman for very different reasons. Talia, because she views him as the only near-perfect man worthy of her. Selina, because she understands that he is deeply flawed, much like herself. We also got more bonding between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, which I’m always here for. When Damian eventually gives up being Robin in the future, I hope Dick takes him under his wing. [Pun wholly intended].

The only problem I’d have with this issue is that the ending didn’t offer as much closure as I’d like. Selina and Bruce are only in this mess to get Holly to confess to the murders Selina took the fall for. Yet we never get a clear answer on what she’ll do as the pair leave without her.

Which brings me to my next point. Going to this place was basically an international incident. Superman was even waiting for Bruce to leave at one point so that he could address him personally. Where’s the fallout from this? I was half-expecting an army to be waiting to take him into custody only for him to talk his way out of it.

Every comic book series can’t be excellent for 35 issues. 34 is apparently the limit. While this may have been my least favorite of King’s arcs in the title, it’s only fair to point out that I still enjoyed it. Which says a lot for the overall quality of the series.

8.1 out of 10

Reading Batman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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