Who Kissed? Who Quit? BATMAN #40 and JUSTICE LEAGUE #38 - SPOILERS

Batman #40
Credit: Joelle Jones/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles (DC Comics)
Credit: Joelle Jones/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles (DC Comics)

Spoilers ahead for both Batman #40 and Justice League #38.

Two of the DC titles released this week carry somewhat contradicting messages about Bruce Wayne's fidelity as he's in the midst of an engagement to Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

In Batman #40, Bruce and Wonder Woman were tempted to get romantic, but Bruce ultimately refused to even Kiss Diana out of loyalty to Selina.

But in Justice League #38, when Green Lantern Jessica Cruz leans in for a kiss, she lands it on Bruce's lips. And there's no indication that he stopped her.

So what happened in these two stories to cause all the kissing?
 

FIRST, IN BATMAN #40

Credit: Joelle Jones/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles (DC Comics)

The current Batman story surrounds a character named the Gentle Man. In the previous issue, readers found out that Wonder Woman and Batman happened upon the Gentle Man during a recent mission, discovering that he's been constantly fighting the "Hordes of Gehenna" who "forever try to break our realm." Before Wonder Woman and Batman were rescued from the Gentle Man's realm by Zatanna, they fought beside him and offered to come back and take his place should he ever want a rest.

And now he wants that rest.

So Bruce and Diana went to switch places with the Gentle Man, allowing him to come to Gotham City and vacation a bit with Catwoman. But what Bruce, Diana and Selina didn't know - until after the switch - is that time passes more quickly in that other realm.

As Gentle Man goes to meet his wife - who hasn't seen him in 10 years (although in his realm it felt like eons) - Catwoman realizes that Bruce is now spending what feels like decades with Diana.

At the end of Batman #39, Diana and Bruce were leaning toward each other for a kiss.

That brings us to this week's Batman #40, written by Tom King with art by Joelle Jones, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles.

As this issue picks up the story - with Diana and Bruce about to kiss - both of them stop themselves before the kiss takes place. Bruce declares his love for Selina; Diana similarly praises Steve Trevor.

As the Gentle Man visits his wife, Selina admires and learns from the couple's patience and understanding during their time apart.

By the end of the issue, the Gentle Man returns to his realm, Bruce and Diana return home still loyal to their loved ones, and Selina seems even more ready to try this thing called marriage.

Credit: Joelle Jones/Jordie Bellaire/Clayton Cowles (DC Comics)


 

MEANWHILE, IN JUSTICE LEAGUE #38

Justice League #38z
Justice League #38z
Credit: Liam Sharp/Adriano Lucas (DC Comics)

Bruce has some different problems in this week's Justice League #38, written by Christopher Priest with art by Marco Santucci, Alex Sollazzo, and Willie Schu.

In this storyline, the League is dealing with the aftermath of an attack by a villain called the Fan. (And the Fan is literally that - an obsessed fan of the Justice League whose dialogue actually sounds a lot like some of the more rabid fans who populate the internet comic book community.)

In this issue, Bruce is basically asked by Superman (with the League's support) to please quit the Justice League.

And he does.

(The termination of Bruce's position on the League all stems from recent events with the Fan, which Bruce didn't handle so well, in the League's opinion.)

Justice League #38 also features a crisis where Barry Allen is floating in space - unbeknownst to the League and completely disconnected from the Justice League Satellite - as he's trying to rescue someone in a space suit. Things go from bad to worse, but somehow - as Barry narrates with a bunch of scientific Speed Force mumbo jumbo - he succeeds.

Barry gets back to the satellite alive, albeit a little frozen (eh, he'll speed-heal), and the space-suited person is safely returned to her spaceship.

But two more significant things happen at the end of Justice League #38:

One, Bruce Wayne is packing up his things to leave the satellite - cleaning out his locker and wearing street clothes - when Jessica Cruz leans toward Bruce and kisses him.

Yep, smacks him right on the lips. And there's no indication that Bruce stopped her.

Credit: Marco Santucci/Alex Sollazzo (DC Comics)

Then, following the kiss - with Bruce apparently not addressing it (at least, not that the readers are shown) - Bruce casually walks into the room where the rest of the League is standing.

He says that since he's the departing chairperson of the League, he gets to appoint a new one.

And he appoints Cyborg.

So Victor Stone is the new leader of the Justice League - as announced earlier in solicitations.

A couple things stick out about these events, however.

In these two different issues, Bruce Wayne has chosen different paths in reaction to a person's kiss. In one, he backs away and declares his love for Selina; in another, he just allows the kiss and doesn't appear to mention (or even think of) Selina.

The kiss is also unusual because since Priest took over Justice League, he's been implying that Jessica Cruz and Barry Allen might actually be an item.

Also, if Cyborg is the new leader of the team, what happens between now and May, when he's not even pictured as part of the Justice League during Justice League: No Justice?

The stories continue on February 21 with both Batman #41 and Justice League #39.

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