- March 31, 2021
Batman/Catwoman: Thoughts So Far
Spoilers for Batman/Catwoman #1-4
Now, I’ll be honest, I’ve never been too much of a Catwoman fan. I don’t there’s anything particularly wrong with her character, she just doesn’t appeal to me. The relationship between Batman and Catwoman makes it so one of them has to give up a part of their character for them to be together. Batman, his moral code, or Catwoman being a thief. If they’re not together, she’s just a thief. Sure, she makes for small conflicts and small stories, but I’m not raving about any Catwoman story.
So when Batman/Catwoman comes out, and its been honest-to-god a Catwoman book so far… I actually don’t hate it.
I, of course, love Batman, and I especially love Helena Wayne, but as the Huntress. Being the Huntress was her way of respecting both her father’s and mother’s legacies, while making her own. I like that idea more than the execution. I just can’t get into comics like that, but the new 52 version really modernized Helena Wayne.
Tom King is not writing that Helena Wayne.
With that said, I really, really, really should hate this book. Batman’s barely in it, Helena Wayne has been completely changed after not appearing in anything for years, and Catwoman is the main character.
But to be honest… I kind of dig this book.
The Cat and the Clown
I like the Joker as a villain, and there are a ton of great stories about Batman fighting him. But I don’t need more, like for a while. Let him rest, DC. At the same time, I think I can stomach another Joker story when its about Joker’s relationship with someone other than Batman or Harley Quinn.
Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis, but he can be a good foil to other characters as well.
Batman/Catwoman’s story does that, by diving into Catwoman’s and Joker’s relationship. Sure, it is metatextuality framed around them as two villains who love Batman, but he’s a tool they use less than the object of their goals.
The idea of Catwoman being a villain who doesn’t fear the Joker, but actually once had a comradery with him, does work. It builds an air of mystery and tension to every scene. Catwoman is now dealing with someone who was once a friend on a bad path (understatement of the year) as she turns her life around.
He’s always there, threatening to bring her back, and make her life harder. At the same time, this allows her to prove that she’s able to change for good without Batman, and she’s willing to do good even if it means costing her what she loves.
It makes Catwoman a three-dimensional character with motivations outside of her romance with the Bat. I do have to like that.
The Timelines of Batman/Catwoman
This book does something else that Tom King has played with before. There’s multiple shifting timelines in this story. There’s the present day storyline, with Batman and Catwoman together. This one is where they deal with the Phantasm, but there’s also the future timeline with their daughter as Batman after Bruce’s death.
The way Tom King uses the future timeline to inform the past is brilliant. It’s confusing the moment I start thinking about when this all should be happening, but in the moment I’m enraptured. Seeing Catwoman finally get revenge on the Joker in the future, and avoiding her daughter’s investigations, is written to parallel how she evades the Phantasm and Batman learning about her involvement with the Joker.
Her life keeps repeating because Catwoman, when written by Tom King, is a hero and a villain. She saves innocent people, and won’t let them die, but she has her vices. She kills the Joker for the enjoyment, for revenge, not to protect anyone, and it all feels right.
The Art of Batman/Catwoman
Alright, sometimes Clay Mann’s art is perfect, capturing the sensuality between Batman and Catwoman. Sometimes it works to not hide from the fact that the characters of superhero stories tend to be beautiful beefcakes and models.
This is not one of those times. It’s not bad most of the time, most of the time its good, but far too often its gratuitous.
Like, does Catwoman need to be drawn in her underwear as often as she is? Why does the bottom half of Helena’s batsuit make her look half naked? Why can people tell that Helena is probably wearing a thong in one panel?
Like, seriously, this can get kind of gross and distracting from the story. There are some absolutely jaw-dropping panels, that beautifully tell their story. Everything having to do with an older Catwoman meeting a senior Joker, is drawn to perfection. In those panels, no one is being ogled, and Selena is framed to show her intent and her character.
Why can’t this appropriate, respectful, and masterful detail be in the scenes where Catwoman fights the Phantasm? Or when Helena is first introduced as the Batman of the future?
Clay Mann needs to see what he’s doing sometimes, and think, “Maybe I shouldn’t draw this way.” Stop being horny Clay Mann.
The Bat and the Phantasm
So far, Helena Wayne and the Phantasm, the two characters this book is reintroducing to a lot of people, possibly into canon if DC wants, are… characters.
The Batman, Helena Wayne
I said it before that I prefer Helena Wayne as the Huntress. Tom Taylor, with his run on New 52 Earth 2, did a lot for it to make sense for Helena to forgo the Huntress identity to become Batman.
That being said, I am comfortable with this new version of her being Batman. The daughter of the Batman and Catwoman in Tom King’s run, would not be the same Helena from any Earth-2. She would be raised by parents who are constantly proving themselves trustworthy and untrustworthy to each other. She would grow up in a Gotham that’s darker and sinister than many other incarnations. I could easily imagine what would drive her to forgo the identity of the Huntress, for the fear that comes with dressing like a bat.
If I could have a Helena Wayne in modern continuity, would this be the one I’d want? No. But this version fits this story, and as a part of this story I like her.
The Phantasm, Andrea Beaumont
But with the Phantasm, Andrea Beaumont, there is a whole different story, or really no story.
In Batman/Catwoman, she’s still a character driven by the fridging of a character we barely know. Just like last time, this one was killed by the Joker, but her son rather than her father.
I’m pretty sure it’s confirmed her son is not Bruce’s.
That being said, four issues in and the Phantasm feels like a catalyst for Catwoman, not a character. It’s almost as if Tom King expects you to have seen the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm film. There’s been no deeper dive into her character or motivations. She asks Batman for help finding her son, and they find out he’s been killed by the Joker. After that she dons the identity of the Phantasm and starts kills all of the men involved before trying to get to the Joker. There’s little to her at this point.
Andrea was a deep character with a backstory that was a bit generic, but she provided the hero with an deeply introspective character arc. She’s not doing that here, it’s almost as if Tom King is setting her up as some kind of Chekov’s gun. I predict she’s gonna do something that flips the story on its head.
It’s possible that Tom King is going to get to her soon, and tell an actual story with her. There are eight issues left of Batman/Catwoman, so who knows.
Concluding Thoughts on Batman/Catwoman So Far
All in all I like it, which is surprising for some reasons, and maybe not others.
I’m excited to see where Batman/Catwoman goes, what it does with the least developed characters, and if it turns me into a Catwoman fan.
What has me waiting on the edge of my seat, is how all of these timelines are going to come together. I want to know the future of the Gotham and the family Catwoman has created for herself.
Maybe, just maybe, Catwoman will have one final chase across the rooftops, with a new Batman on her tail. Maybe the Batman in the title of the book isn’t supposed to refer to Bruce Wayne at all.
If you want to, check if the book is available at your local comic book store. If you want someone’s thoughts on last weeks comics, check out our article here.