Review: BATMAN/CATWOMAN #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Colours: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman/Catwoman #1: At last, Tom King returns to the rocky, romantic saga of Batman and Catwoman with his Heroes in Crisis collaborator, superstar artist Clay Mann! Echoing plot points from King’s epic Batman run, this sweeping tale is told across three timelines: the past, when the Bat and the Cat first fell in love; the present, where their union is threatened by one of Batman’s lost loves; and the future, where the couple have a happy life and legacy-including their daughter Helena, the Batwoman. And as the story begins, after a long marriage, Bruce Wayne passes away-which frees Selina Kyle to settle an old score. At every stage of their relationship, Bruce and Selina have an unwelcome chaperone: The Joker! Oh, and that lost love of Bruce’s? It’s Andrea Beaumont-a.k.a. Phantasm. Just thought you’d want to know.
When DC announced that Tom King was ending his run as writer of Batman with issue #85, I, like many other fans, was angry. This was 15 issues short of the 100 issue story King had originally planned. However, it soon came to light that King would get to finish his story in a maxiseries. Unfortunately, we had to wait almost a year for King’s continuation.
The heart of King’s run on Batman was the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. This was best exemplified in King’s story in Batman Annual #2, which spanned the length of their romance, from “the first kiss to the the last”. That annual was the high point of King’s run and one of the best comic stories I have ever read. So, when King announced that Batman/Catwoman would follow the same structure, spanning the past, present, and future of Bruce and Selina’s story, that further heightened my already high expectations of this series.
So, is King’s return to Batman living up to expectations? I’m happy to say that this issue was everything I was hoping for in King’s return to Bruce and Selina’s story. Batman/Catwoman #1 is only the start of this story, but King is hitting all the right notes.
One surprising part of the story is the inclusion of Andrea Beaumont, a character from the animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. This brings the movie into DCU continuity and makes King’s story a sequel to it as well. It will be interesting to see what this unexpected element adds to the mix as the story progresses.
I’ve been feeling that DC has been overusing the Joker recently, what with the “Joker War” story in Batman, Batman: Three Jokers, and even his own movie. I feel that DC should maybe put the character on the back burner for now. However, Joker has played a integral, if unwelcome, part of Bruce and Selina’s story. The Joker even debuted the in the same issue of Batman as Catwoman. So, even though I’m suffering Joker fatigue, King’s story has me gleefully reading another story where he plays a pivotal role.
I also love King’s version of the Joker’s future. One would expect that the Joker would eventually meet his end during one of his fights with the Dark Knight. Perhaps by accident or perhaps Bruce would finally snap and put a final end to his foe. But the absolute last future I imagined, was a quiet retirement, living in a Florida retirement village, and bragging about his grandchildren.
I have to admit, I was caught by surprise by the reveal that this old man Selina was conversing with was the Joker. My suspicion at first was that he might be the Riddler. It’s also rather telling, if shocking, to see his grief at receiving the news of Batman’s death. Clearly the Joker loves Batman in his own insane way.
And King leaves us with the shocking revelation of why Selina has sought out the Joker. She tells him, “He’s gone. He can’t stop me. For what you did. For Andrea… I finally get to kill you”. It will be interesting to see in the coming months what exactly the Joker will do to cause Selina to want to murder him. And will Selina actually go ahead with it? This is happening in a future timeline, so we have no assurances that she won’t. And, as she said, Bruce is no longer around to prevent it.
There are also little touches that I love. Both the present and future timelines are set in the Christmas season. I suspect that future issues will feature events during holidays, as a nod to Batman: The Long Halloween. I also noticed that the cat Selina has with her is the same kitten that Bruce gifted Selina with on the day of his death. And it’s always great to see Alfred again, if only in a flashback.
Clay Mann’s art on this book is stunning, I love his depictions of Batman and the Joker especially. And Selina’s feline companion is adorable. Tomeu Morey’s colours beautifully complement Mann’s art, perfectly capturing the mood of of the story.
I also love the device of showing Wayne Manor with a single window lit on the credits page. This window contains the title of this issue’s story, and I suspect the other 11 visible windows will be lit for each successive issue. It’s reminiscent of an advent calendar, which fits well with this story being set in the Christmas season.
The only problem with this issue is that we had to wait so long for it. However, Batman/Catwoman #1 was well worth the wait.
Tom King has shown us that he can work wonders with the 12 issue maxiseries format in Mister Miracle, The Sheriff of Babylon, and Strange Adventures. Batman/Catwoman #1, makes it clear that he’s about to do his magic yet again. I look forward to seeing where this story takes us over the next year.