Review: Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar? trade paperback (DC Comics)


I received, generously, a review copy of Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar that allowed me to read and write the review for this volume ahead of time before I picked up with single issues through Batman #50. Many of you, but perhaps not all, know that issue gave me a different perspective on this book. I considered rewriting this review in line with that new knowledge, but decided there's perhaps going to be few other reviews of Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar that address the book entirely straight without Batman #50 seeping in, and so it's worthwhile to leave this review untouched. To that end, this remains a real trade-waiter's review, reflecting no knowledge of what lies ahead besides what this book itself presents. Please enjoy.

Tom King's Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar? is an enjoyable but strange book, of the kind that continues to make me wonder what we're in for when Batman and Catwoman finally arrive at the altar. King's Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement, I felt, covered all the imperative engagement-type stories -- notifying the Bat-family and the mother of Batman's son, a post-engagement double date with Superman, etc. Bride swings farther -- a one-off mystery that need not even involve the wedding at all, and a three-part story where Batman and Catwoman save the world. Again, these are good -- really quite spectacular, even -- but one does not want to be so cynical as to think these "just because" stories are simply to get us to issue #50; I can't shake the feeling there's more going on.

[Review contains spoilers]

Case in point, the first chapter is a Batman mystery in the conventional style, a couple murders and red herrings before Batman finally arrives at the culprit. With the presence of guest artist Travis Moore, one might dismiss this as an index issue, and surely King might be forgiven one. I like here that when Bruce wakes in the middle of the night (sleeping during the night now, apparently), monologuing the facts of the case, Selina just sleeps on beside him; theirs is a fun relationship that King uses, like Bat Burger, to offer seriousness one moment and then undercuts the absurdity of it all the next. But then ultimately Selina's only lines of dialogue in the story are that she has a man now who will do "anything" for her, a joke but perhaps with an ominous undertone. And a few issues later, in the Ivy story that's well-done but perhaps not germane, the Riddler offers a riddle (backward) that smacks of this issue's villain. Coincidence, or something more?

The clear star of this volume is that Ivy story. We return, for the first time, to some of the implications of Batman Vol. 4: War of Jokes and Riddles, which is itself not insignificant -- that King went through the trouble of penning this alt-"Year One" adventure for Batman and company (with heavy Riddler involvement) and then we haven't seen hide nor hair of it since. Now we have, and among many upshots of the story is more happened throughout it than the Riddler necessarily revealed. Is this all just telling stories, or is King softly and subtly keeping "War of Jokes and Riddles" on our minds?

The Ivy story, lushly illustrated by Mikel Janin, is itself a wonderful puzzle. First, King creates some amazing stakes, putting Batman and Catwoman against literally the entire Poison Ivy-controlled world (we saw Batman vs. the Justice League in Batman Vol. 7: Endgame, but it felt not so adroitly paranoid and claustrophobic as this). The second issue, where seemingly innocuous acts like Batman and Catwoman getting a meal or taunting Ivy's Superman all tie into a grand plan, was cleverly executed, and that continues into Batman and Catwoman's timed-to-the-second recruitment of Harley Quinn against Ivy. The final pages are both a nice Gotham City Sirens reunion and, I thought, a rather caring take on trauma and recovery (King can write this Harley any day).

There would be more right with the two-part "SuperFriends: Wonder Woman" did it not echo so closely (and one issue longer) Joe Kelly's Action Comics #761, in which Superman and Wonder Woman were also trapped in an eternal alternate dimension like Batman and Wonder Woman are. Kelly had Superman and Wonder Woman away for a (relative) thousand years, at which point Superman turned down a night of passion with Wonder Woman out of deference to Lois; Wonder Woman propositioning Batman (or possibly not) after thirty-seven years seems paltry by comparison.

King's story succeeds in that the reader can recognize they want Batman and Catwoman to get married by the fact that we don't want Batman to ruin the relationship by cheating with Wonder Woman. However, none of this reflects very well on Wonder Woman, for which Kelly was OK the first time but King going back to the well a second time puts Wonder Woman in a poor light. Supposedly this is a test on Wonder Woman's part, as she herself intends to remain faithful to Steve Trevor, but a test of this sort isn't terribly nice either. Wonder Woman pays Catwoman a kind compliment in the end, but I think the "SuperFriends" story of Clark and Lois actually interacting with Bruce and Selina was stronger than Wonder Woman assessing Catwoman in absentia.

The final chapter has Selina picking out (read: stealing) her wedding dress. The issue reminds of King and Tim Seeley's excellent Grayson #12, with its call-outs to these characters' long histories (Batman News has a good run-down of the issues referenced). If we dig, some parts of this can't possibly be in continuity, but we won't quibble with a walk down memory lane. But again, if we take this story at more than just its face value, what is it that Robin says here? "I don't ... understand it. Sometimes she acts like the ... exact opposite." People, if it's not the Riddler, my second guess is another of this book's dangling threads, [redacted].

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar?

Ultimately in the deluxe Rebirth Batman collections, we'll get Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement and Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar? together, which is a rather fine collection of Batman/Catwoman engagement stories. And maybe with Bride connected to Engagement, what's here won't seem so good but out of place. Maybe in the next volume, Batman and Catwoman will get married. Maybe they're headed for wedded bliss. But this is comics. I read Omega Men -- I know Tom King's got lots up his sleeves.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar?
Author Rating
4.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 3 )

  1. I'll take Tom King's word that he had never read Action Comics #761 before writing that two-parter with Wonder Woman, but the considerable similarities between the two stories still bothered me a lot, and someone in editorial should have caught them. Sure, that issue came out almost 19 years ago, but it's not like DC's editors are all in their 20s.

    1. Link to where King said that? Just curious to read it.

    2. Here's the whole thread:


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