Review by Ian Keogh
We’re in the 1930s and the dawn of Batman’s career in the pulp era all too rarely visited these days, but one that slots in best with the Tarzan of literature, one who’s been returned to civilisation and adopted his inheritance.
In memory of his murdered parents Bruce Wayne has set up a wing in Gotham’s museum, and commissioned an adventurer named Finnegan Dent to locate the artefacts with which to fill it. Dent isn’t forthcoming about where he’s located items, and at the launch Wayne is introduced to Lord Greystoke.
It will come as no surprise that Dent has been plundering where he ought not to have been plundering, which brings both Batman and Tarzan into contact with the Cat-Woman of the title. She’s not Selina Kyle, but Princess Khefretari of Memnon, a hidden African community looted by Dent.
The gloom of the indistinct cover matches the colouring Chris Chuckry applies to much of Igor Kordey’s art within, whereas in other places the art is almost over-saturated in colour. It’s presumably intended to invoke a byegone era, but too often distracts. Kordey’s page layouts are dynamic and effective, and where he works well in combination with Chuckry is in the scene-setting sequences of African wildlife and the beauty of the jungle. His Tarzan is imposing and his novice Batman equally so. Elsewhere, though, he’s prone to exaggeration that doesn’t work in the service of the story. At one point a full page illustration shows the shocking effect of a villain mauled by a lion, yet two panels later said villain is up and mixing it with Batman. Kordey’s design sketches, included as a bonus feature, are very good indeed.
Considering Batman & Tarzan now, it takes some time to realise this is the out of continuity Batman of an alternate world, what DC once labelled as ‘Elseworlds’, and a couple of nagging aspects fall into place.
Real surprises are almost non-existent in Ron Marz’s plot, but it’s spliced with some neat touches. Tarzan’s sense of smell being so refined that he’s immediately aware of Bruce Wayne in his Batman costume is nice, as is Batman being taken aback at Tarzan’s sheer savagery and kill or be killed attitude. It’s the type of shocked awe he’s more used to inducing himself. As an adventure Marz services the expected locations, but never exceeds a comfortable experience, and some may feel that for a title character with her background, Princess Khefretari is too passive and falls too readily into the role of victim.
Claws of the Cat-Woman maintains a status as a curiosity unlikely to be repeated, but it’s only sporadically memorable.