Batman #37 from DC Comics by Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles is a book that astonishes purely in that it is not what I would ever be expecting to get out of a Batman story. It's bright, sweet, light-hearted, and filled with humour. Yes, that's right — all these things in a book about the Dark Knight. And you know what? It really works.
This issue follows on from the previous issue as DC's biggest romantic couples decide to continue their first meeting (as couples) with a double date at the fair. One problem: it's superhero night, and as they have turned up in their civilian identities, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Clark Kent, and Lois Lane are 'not superheroes'.
Immediately, a buddy comedy level idea comes out that sees all of them swap costumes so they can go in and no one can guess that they really are those heroes (and an ace reporter).
And from there, genius ensues. Honestly, this may be the most quotable issue of Batman there has ever been, as each and every panel is filled to the brim with humour and heart. But more than that, it also speaks to the characters, too, and in the middle of all the jolly fun and enjoyment we get a full, in depth character study of the individuals, their friendships, and their romantic relationships.
Plus, it adds the idea that Lois Lane and Selina Kyle are friends, BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY WOULD BE FRIENDS. It's such an odd, quirky idea on paper, but in action makes so much sense and actually lays so much of the groundwork.
One may be an ace reporter, the other an ace cat burglar, but oh my god, are they the most normal, straight-to-the-point, and down-to-earth women the way they are written.
All of this is lovingly illustrated by Mann and Bellaire in work that looks delightful and has laboured over with love and joy. You really get the impression they had fun with this issue, and there are plenty of Easter eggs throughout to keep fans going back for more.
Want to know how good this single issue is? I have read it three times already, and I intend to read many more times. It's an absolute delight of an issue and a reminder that even Batman is capable of emotional vulnerability and humour. It's great to see.