Review: BATMAN/CATWOMAN #4
[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 #4: The Joker has hidden a bomb in Gotham-but there might be a bigger explosion if Batman proves his suspicions true, and Catwoman actually knows where it is! It’s a dangerous secret that threatens to destroy the couple’s relationship in its early days, and it’s going to reverberate throughout their time together. In the present day, it will affect how Selina handles Andrea Beaumont, a.k.a. Phantasm, who has a vendetta to carry out against the Clown Prince of Crime, fueled by the righteous fury of a mother who lost her son. And this whole chain of events is what ultimately leads to Catwoman killing The Joker in the future-a secret she can’t keep from her daughter, Batwoman, much longer. Particularly now that old man Penguin is involved.
Of the three timeframes presented in this series, it’s the future story that has piqued my interest in Batman/Catwoman #4. Helena Wayne, the future Batwoman, appears to have inherited her father’s detective instincts. It’s clear that she suspects her mother’s involvement in the Joker’s murder. If she’s anywhere near as good a detective as her father, then it’s only a matter of time until she uncovers the truth.
This raises a significant question. Selina could not kill the Joker while Bruce was still alive. She knew that Batman would neither allow nor forgive that action. Has Helena inherited Bruce Wayne’s uncompromising sense of justice? Or can she acknowledge that life has a lot of morally grey areas like her mother? Will she fee duty-bound to turn her own mother in for murder, or will she accept that the Joker had it coming?
We see Helena questioning a number of Batman’s villains about the strange relationship between Catwoman and the Joker. I like how these encounters give us a peek at their future fates. I was particularly struck by the twist of having Victor Fries being the one frozen, with his wife Nora working to restore him to life.
The villain that appears least changed is the Penguin. We see Helena confronting him with her questions, and later we see Selina demanding to know what answers he gave her. This scene says a lot about the character. It’s clear that Selina has a dark side that she’s kept suppressed during her years with Bruce. But with his death, this darkness is now unleashed.
Selina unleashes her cat on one of the Penguin’s namesake pets. The cat violently kills the flightless bird, demonstrating that even domesticated house cats are deadly killers. Likewise, Selina can be just as deadly. This is rather foreboding. Is it possible that Selina might lead her to commit more crimes? If so, that would definitely pit her against Helena.
The past timeframe provides a counterpoint to this. At that time, Selina is struggling to put her criminal past behind her for the good of her relationship with Bruce. Unfortunately, Joker is making it difficult for her to do so. The Joker comes between her and Bruce, just as he will come between her and Helena in the future.
Clay Mann’s work on this title is amazing. I loved how he makes Selina’s pet look absolutely adorable and terrifyingly ferocious. I also love the design of Helena’s Batwoman uniform. While Helena has chosen to take on her father’s Bat-themed identity, Mann has clearly added some Cattish elements to her costume.
There was a point in this issue where it was unclear that it had switched between timeframes. It only took me a moment to realize that a switch had happened, but did give me a moment of confusion. Luckily, it’s not difficult to spot the transitions if you’re reading carefully.
Batman/Catwoman #4 is another captivating issue of this standout series. Tom King’s engaging story ensures that I have to read this book before anything else coming out the same week. And King’s writing is beautifully complemented by Clay Mann’s artwork and Tomeu Morey’s colours.