WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman #36 by Tom King and Clay Mann, on sale now.
It's always awkward to try and introduce your new fiancée to a group of your friends, but it gets even weirder when almost every person involved is a superhero with a secret identity.
Welcome to Batman's new normal, where he's just as busy dodging phone calls he doesn't want to make to his friends as he is the fists and bullet of Gotham City's criminal elements. Who says the Dark Knight can't be relatable?
But more importantly, this weeks Batman #36 by creators Tom King and Clay Mann finally puts a pin in the age-old question: Are Clark Kent's glasses actually fooling anyone?
The answer is, honestly, probably exactly what you might have expected.
Who Needs a Secret Identity, Anyway?
Following their engagement back at the end of "The War of Jokes and Riddles," things have gotten a little crazy for both Batman and Catwoman, but crazy in a way that neither of them are really all that prepared to deal with. The thing is: ever since the Dark Knight Returns revolution of the 80s, Bruce hasn't exactly been the most social guy.
Sure, he's had his moments, he's got a big family, and he's got plenty of friends (though he probably wouldn't describe them that way), but he's not generally the sort of guy who goes around making weekend plans for double dates. It's just that making weekend plans for double dates is exactly the sort of thing you're expected to do when you're trying to enter into the world of normal social lives and married couples.
Tough break, Bats.
Luckily, Selina is here to make sure, in no uncertain terms, that she's ready to call out any and all of Bruce's waffling on the subject -- in fact, she doesn't even need him to break the news to her that his best friend, Superman, is actually (gasp!) the mild mannered reporter from Metropolis, Clark Kent.
Surprise! Clark's civilian disguise of a rumpled t-shirt and glasses are exactly as ineffective in the modern era as anyone would have assumed.
Granted, Selina is aware that she is coming at this issue from a certain advantage. She's a thief, so she has to know things to steal them. But the point remains: Superman's alter ego is probably less effective than he would have wanted, given the circumstances. Luckily for him, and for Bruce, they're both too busy anxiously trying to decide which one of them should be the first one to crack and admit they feel genuine emotions toward one another first to really care about the potential breach in security.
So, Why does It Matter?
All jokes aside, the real crux of Batman #36 is actually a touching love story between two couples who simultaneously couldn't be further apart or closer together. Selina's ability to deduce Clark's identity is all but expected at this point, but the payoff of the meeting is totally worth the build up.
For decades, the friendship between Clark and Bruce has been defined as day and night -- Clark's sun to Bruce's moon, Clark's loving and functional family to Bruce's club of lonely and traumatized orphans. But now? That's all starting to change.
After all, Selina and Lois share a similar dichotomy -- the standoffish, aloof criminal versus the personable, publicly recognized reporter -- but the two of them are able to shed the baggage of their personal histories immediately for the sake of their future friendship. That is, if we're lucky. Selina and Bruce have yet to actually exchange vows, of course, so who knows what sort of twists might befall them before things are made official, or how long the marriage will last for reasons both on or off the page.
But as of right now? The Dark Knight is living a life that feels like something of a true Golden Age resurgence, a modern twist on the slice-of-life comics of years gone by. Just, y'know, with a little more real-world logic applied this time around.
After all, in a world where Batman and Catwoman can tie the knot, why shouldn't Superman invest in a new secret identity?