SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #67 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Jorge Fornes, Lovern Kindzierski and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Readers of Tom King's current Batman run might have overlooked his and Lee Weeks Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 in 2017. In that standalone one-shot, the ever-befuddled Fudd turned his attention from hunting one particular wascally wabbit towards none other than Batman himself. DC's Looney Tunes crossover might have been dismissed by some as a meaningless, throwaway comic. After all, how could such an out-of-continuity tale ever connect to the mainstream series?
King and Weeks' Batman #67, surprisingly, does exactly that. And what happens this issue might even indicate a way out for Batman from his current "Knightmares."
These Looney Tunes Characters are Absolutely Batty
Batman/Elmer Fudd did feature Fudd's wisecracking, carrot-chomping arch-nemesis, "Bugs" – or at least Weeks' humanized incarnation of him. It also featured Weeks' interpretations of Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn and other beloved Looney Tunes characters. Curiously absent, though, were the ever-popular Road Runner and his own arch-foe, Wile E. Coyote – self-proclaimed super-genius.
As it turns out, King and Weeks had something special in store for those two, and that something is Batman #67. But readers don't necessarily realize it at first. The issue begins with a rooftop encounter between Batman and an unknown nemesis – with the body of another lying on the roof between them. As the mystery assailant begins to flee, Batman gives chase – and a familiar cartoon trope emerges as the issue progresses.
We've Seen This Before – on Saturday Mornings
Batman's relentless pursuit of this unknown character ensues in a downward manner, from the rooftop, through apartments, down stairwells, to the street and beyond. One presumes that letterer Clayton Cowles' periodic insertion of "beep beep" sound effects perhaps represents the sounds of urban traffic down below. And as Batman's prey continues to elude him, readers realize that the incessant "beep beeps" aren't coming from the streets – they're coming from the object of his chase.
The cloaked character, still unrevealed, is a symbolic representation of the Road Runner. This means Batman is in the role of, yes, Wile E. Coyote.
And that was the "real" Wile E. Coyote – William Ernest Coyote, as he's called – lying dead on the rooftop.
While arduous and painful, at least Batman's downward descent is a lot slower, and more survivable, than plunging off the edge of a cliff in the desert. And he doesn't even get flattened by an anvil.
If He Catches You, You're Through
The pursuit continues down to the street, into the city's sewers, and to the bottom of Gotham River, where the chase finally ends. With nowhere left to run, the Road Runner-esque subject's identity is at last revealed beneath the murky depths. Behind the mask and under the hat, the character Batman has been chasing hasn't been Wile E. Coyote's arch-foe, but instead his own. Yes, it's been The Joker who's been leading Batman on this crazy cartoon chase, proving that he's not only crazy – he's absolutely looney.
There's a far bigger revelation than that, though. Although represented only symbolically, the moment represents one that never occurred in the history of these two Looney Tunes characters. After decades of seemingly fruitless schemes, failed traps, and endless pursuits, Batman's catching up with The Joker parallels Wile E. Coyote finally catching the Road Runner.
And while it's only a symbolic victory for the Coyote, it stands to be a far bigger one for Batman. But how?