By Nick Romano
September 17, 2019 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: DC Comics

Let’s take a lazy afternoon to talk about that thirst trap taking up the pages of Tom King‘s Batman comics. No, we’re not talking about Selina Kyle, even though she’s enjoying time at the beach in a bikini. We’re talking about her handsome gentleman companion who looks like he walked off a ’70s GQ advertorial spread for summer styles.

There are narrative reasons why Bruce Wayne is rocking a mustache in Batman #78 and again in this week’s Batman #79: A reunited Batman and Catwoman are catching some rays in a sandy paradise setting, but more importantly, the Dark Knight is bouncing back from injuries sustained by Bane with help from the woman who left him at the altar.

Bats goes incognito as his Matches Malone persona, but his sun-soaked beefcake bod is anything but incognito. So, naturally, EW spoke with artist Clay Mann about drawing such a superhero snack, complete with an exclusive look at this week’s Batman #79.

Credit: Courtesy DC Comics
Credit: Courtesy DC Comics

“I had a friend text me and tell me my Bruce is hot, and I trust his opinion,” Mann comments over the phone. Though, he admits, “I hear more about Catwoman.”

A scene from Mann’s Batman/Superman Double Date issue is evidence to how he throws a bone beyond the male gaze. Side-by-side panels offer a peek inside the changing rooms as the heroes and their dates (Lois Lane and Selina) are swapping outfits, featuring the Bat in boxer briefs. Call it a preview to his new skin-tight summer look.

“For me, if I have an opportunity to do it, I’m going to do it,” Mann says. “If I’m going to have Selina undressing and I don’t take the opportunity to do it, I will hear about it all day. But it’s also fun. It’s fun for me. I like that stuff.”

Credit: Courtesy DC Comics

Mann embraces his unofficial moniker as the beefcake artist. After all, “I’m the Gambit guy,” he says, referring to his 2012-2013 beefcake Gambit: King of Thieves comic run with writer James Asmus. The card-slinger never looked so fine.

For Batman in this current arc, Mann looked to one of his pop culture obsessions for inspiration: Magnum P.I.

“I like Tom Selleck and I like Magnum P.I. and it doesn’t go further than that,” he says. “I like Three Men and a Baby, but Magnum P.I. is why I like him.”

Mann tweeted out images of Selleck as Batman #78 prepped for stands, and he says King essentially wrote these issues with Matches Malone to put the artist’s inspiration to good use. “We’re good friends and he basically hooked me up,” Mann says. The gratuitous looks at the pectoral region is just a bonus.

Credit: Courtesy DC Comics

Drawing shirtless hunks comes easy to Mann. “It’s not easy to draw, but there’s not a lot of thought behind it,” he mentions. “Magnum always wore short-shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Literally, it took two seconds.” But Mann’s (and hot daddy Batty’s) secret weapon is color artist Tomeu Morey.

“When Bruce walks up out of the ocean, half naked with body glistening, those are just lines,” Mann explains. “That’s why I like Tomeu. He’s the one who has to add all the atmosphere and the wet skin and all that stuff.”

Being the big Magnum P.I. fan that he is, Mann traveled to Hawaii quite a bit and adapted many of those locations in the issues. So, while readers can swoon over a super stud doing one-armed pushups with Selina striking yoga moves on his back, you’ll also have vacation vistas painting the backdrops.

“I’m usually in Gotham and it’s dark and gloomy. When [Morey] sends me the emails with colors, it’s my favorite part of the job,” Mann says.

Credit: Courtesy DC Comics

Batman #79 is available this Wednesday.

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