Review: Batman: Preludes to the Wedding trade paperback (DC Comics)

September 16, 2018

 ·  6 comments

Knowing that Tim Seeley wasn't privy to the actual details of Tom King's Batman #50 when he wrote the specials collected in Batman: Preludes to the Wedding, I was perversely excited to read this book just to see how far off Seeley might be. The answer actually is that Seeley really isn't that far off, especially if perhaps you tilt your head and squint; rather, as Seeley is taking from much of the engagement comics that led up to Batman and Catwoman's wedding issue, and it was ultimately King's Batman #50 that sharply deviated from that, it almost seems like Seeley gets it right and King gets it wrong.

These are curious stories, often, not the least of which for instance when Nightwing and Hush fight demons in another dimension, to give you a sense of the liberties Seeley takes. I'm a sucker for these kinds of specials that line up major Batman events with their ancillary titles (e.g. the Endgame specials); DC could collect these separately with the individual titles too, but I don't think they're planning to. One doesn't miss a lot skipping these, moot as they are, but I thought Seeley had something interesting (or at least offbeat) to say about each member of the Bat-family he visits here.

[Review contains spoilers for Preludes and Batman #50]

The throughway of Seeley's specials is that the Joker is seeking a (metaphorical, nonexistent) invitation to Batman and Catwoman's wedding, and Harley Quinn is trying to prevent him from crashing it. Seeley's story therefore bridges King's DC Nation #0 story and Batman #48, which is another example of this book's cognitive dissonance; certainly these events could have happened in there, up to the point where Batman #50 dashes a good part of it.

I rather like King's take on the Joker, which we get here in the form of that DC Nation #0 story, less the grotesque horror of Scott Snyder's books and more insane clown, somewhat corny and even desperate for laughs until the moment a gun goes off in his hand. Seeley's Joker is in line with this, but demonstrates a braininess that I thought particularly clever; Joker seems to bang his head against a wall at random, but Harley reveals she knows he's testing the strength of the wall toward escaping a deathtrap. Artist Sami Basri draws exactly Jared Leto's Suicide Squad Joker in the Harley Quinn vs. the Joker special, making the story look particularly of-the-moment, and probably right for the lookie-loos here for the announced wedding.

First place for the strangest of these stories, as mentioned, is Nightwing vs. Hush, in which Hush manages to track down Batman, Nightwing, and Superman in the street, and Hush and Nightwing fall into a pocket dimension populated by the Dude from Big Lebowski and faceless demons. It is just weird enough to be entertaining, otherwise the sheer mis-fit of it all would render it "bad." The bazooka-toting, H-symbol-wearing is precisely what people are warning me about in the rougher parts of the forthcoming Hush Omnibus; I can only hope, however, that DC sticks with Seeley's intimation that Hush wears Dick Grayson's face now, because that seems interesting enough to redeem this once powerful villain lately written too soft.

There's a nice moment of friendship between Dick and Batman here, though -- perhaps purposefully awkward -- Batman could've taken off his cowl while sitting on his own couch with an un-costumed Dick Grayson. However, Nightwing vs. Hush is among the well-meaning but wrong-guessed tie-ins to Batman #50, suggesting Batman and Catwoman have a formal wedding date where Superman will be the best man -- as Seeley could reasonably assume from Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement's "SuperFriends" arc -- when in fact the two elope and Bruce brings Alfred along.

Best of the stories in this book is probably the Harley/Joker one, but Batgirl vs. Riddler offers a pairing we don't see very often, and I thought the Riddler's analog gauntlet was a smart idea. Between penciller Minkyu Jung and inker Jose Marzan, I did find the art a bit dark and stiff, taking away from the book just a little (also Seeley portrays the book's sole female protagonist as the only one looking for love). Seeley's Red Hood vs. Anarky also has a lot of great bits -- Selina Kyle's New 52-inspired bachelorette party, plenty of metaphors for Jason and Batman's relationship in Anarky's motivations, even a shout-out to Alan Grant's 1990s Anarky series. Robin vs. Ra's al Ghul makes some nice Grant Morrison references but this particular fight feels too familiar at this point.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Batman: Preludes to the Wedding

Amidst the upset over Batman #50, surely it makes sense that Batman: Preludes to the Wedding would be a target, being a series of specials so unconcerned on a macro level with story itself as to not even connect to the story they lead-in to. But again, from Tim Seeley's perspective there's nothing wholly illogical here, and I even have to chuckle at the places that the book gives in to the absurdity of it all. Purists need not apply but to some extent it's more of a surprise that the Bat-family didn't (officially) have more of a role in all of this.

[Includes related covers, issue layouts]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Batman: Preludes to the Wedding
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 6 )

  1. "Knowing that Tim Seeley wasn't privy to the actual details of Tom King's Batman #50 when he wrote the specials"
    Things like this will never not be insane to me. I'm dropping books like crazy right now and stuff like this doesn't help me find new books to pick up (not Seeley's fault, obvs) - all of these "related" series have nothing to do with anything. The Button and The Oz Effect didn't have jack to do with Rebirth-to-Doomsday Clock, this series was nowhere, etc*. I have completely lost my faith in DC (for the moment) to put out anything resembling a cohesive universe of stories.

    Sorry for the rant. I'm just not feeling the DCU right now.

    *There's a lot of stuff going on in mainline books right now that is . . . concerning, and I can't even begin to figure out what is going on with the rotating casts of writers on GLs or 'Tec (thank goodness they finally figured out Wonder Woman).

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    1. I get where you're coming from; the manner in which Doomsday Clock seems to have uprooted the momentum of the Rebirth storyline bothers me too. I happened to read a Rebirth trade just recently that very directly referenced post-Crisis continuity, and it's just astounding to me that we're going on two-three years now with no set continuity, where what might be historically true in one book might not be true in another.

      And that's after the New 52's murky back-history (looking at you, Teen Titan Dustin) and DC's shaky post-Infinite Crisis continuity. How much better if DC would publish a new History of the DC Universe, let it all be said and done, and then be able to tell line-wide event stories like Eclipso: The Darkness Within that were crazy and absurd without getting mired in retcons or multiverses. That's the DC I'd like to get back to.

      What are some of the books you've dropped? Seems to be both Green Lanterns and Detective have rotating creative teams because Green Lanterns is ending (ahead of Grant Morrison's The Green Lantern) and Detective is gearing up for issue #1000 (at which point Peter Tomasi takes over, I believe).

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    2. I'm dropping Nightwing (are we on our 4th creative team since Seeley?) because of his "new" direction, Green Lanterns because it is directionless as well, Batgirl (I hung in too long), then Spectacular Spider-man, Spider-Gwen, Champions, a couple X-books (all four are getting relaunched/new creative teams). Add in Batwoman and Miles Morales being canceled, and I'm really down to a pretty small reading list (luckily Marvel and DC are doing a great job w/80s and 90s archival material)

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    3. Last I saw, Tomasi takes over Detective with #994, after James Robinson's "Face the Face" sequel arc.

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    4. I actually think the DCU is more cohesive now than it was for the first two years of Rebirth. Most of what's going on right now seems to be tied to this big thing Snyder's Justice League is building towards, and unlike Johns, he's very much present at DC Comics instead of being away working on other media.

      Also, the fact that DC had a big writers' summit a few months ago is very encouraging to me. Marvel has been doing this sort of thing for years, and it always baffled me that DC never bothered getting everyone in the same room so that all writers and editors are aware of each other's plans and don't step on each other's toes.

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    5. Fair point. I'm about to get into No Justice, so I'm hopeful. I would say I've been impressed of late; even if, for instance, DC's characterization of Poison Ivy is all over the place, there's very distinct editor's notes between Birds of Prey, Damage, and Batman stating what happens when; also a recent Flash book had a lead-in to the new Teen Titans for no good reason other than good continuity, the pre-No Justice Justice League mentions Metal, etc., etc. If that's Snyder's influence, fantastic, and I'd be glad to see that continue. (Also "Drowned Earth," etc.). Now, of course, that's not the same thing as which Titans history that which character remembers is actually canon, but yes, a good thing.

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