Review: BATMAN/CATWOMAN #8
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colors: Liam Sharp
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman/Catwoman #8: Pulled apart and torn together! Setting new boundaries in their relationship leads to conflict at home and on the mean streets of Gotham for Batman and Catwoman. With opportunists like the Penguin waiting in the wings to strike, our hero becomes more vulnerable than ever. Meanwhile, Phantasm locates her target-The Joker!
In Batman/Catwoman #8, Tom King continues his story that weaves through three timeframes: past, present, and future. Although Selina calmly allowed Commissioner Dick Grayson to arrest her, she has since escaped custody. And her subsequent actions are quite surprising. She steals the Joker’s body from the Gotham City morgue. Then she dismembers his body and uses the pieces like Christmas decorations on a large pine tree in downtown Gotham.
This seems very uncharacteristic for Selina, and I have to wonder why she made this gruesome display. Has she become unhinged? Was killing the Joker not enough, and she needs to inflict more revenge on his remains? She seems to believe herself to be evil at her core, and perhaps she’s trying to convince herself by committing such an act. Or maybe she’s just destroying the evidence of her murder.
She also leaves a note that states the punchline that the Joker used in a past murder. Could it be that this indignity to the Joker’s remains is a bizarre tribute to the villain that Selina considered a friend on some level? Perhaps she is memorializing the Clown Prince of Crime by making him the butt of one of his own jokes. And I wonder if we’ll ever get a clear accounting of Selina’s motives. Tom King very often leaves the readers with unanswered questions, which is both thought-provoking and infuriating. But I love speculating on these questions.
We also see the Joker and Phantasm in the present storyline confronting a family. It is revealed that the couple had a son that went missing as a baby at the hospital. Andrea Beaumont states that this boy was her son. Does this mean that Andrea kidnapped the child and raised him as her own? And I’m not sure what she hopes to accomplish by confronting the child’s actual parents. And why did she take the Joker along with her instead of just killing him? There’s clearly more going on here than King is telling us so far.
I love seeing Dick as a successor to Commissioner Gordon. We even see him picking up Gordon’s habit of pipe smoking. And I love how Liam Sharp draws him to look just like the classic Bronze Age version of Gordon, just with different hair colour. Sharp’s artwork is noticeably different than Clay Mann’s but not in a jarring way. Sharp is doing a great job of capturing the same tone that Mann established for the series.
I have noticed that sometimes in this series, I have a bit of confusion with the changing timeframes. It’s easy to tell when it switches to the future sequence. But I sometimes have some initial confusion between the past and present sequences. It does break me out of the story momentarily when I have to stop and figure it out in my head which timeframe the story has jumped to. Perhaps, there should be captions saying something like “Then…” and “Now…” at the start of each new sequence. I also think it might be easier to distinguish once it’s possible to read the entire story in a single setting. However, I don’t see this as a major issue.
Some of Tom King’s series are universally acclaimed like Mister Miracle, while others are polarizing like Heroes In Crisis. Batman/Catwoman seems to be in the latter camp, but I count myself among the readers who love it. I find it an utterly fascinating exploration of the character of Catwoman and her motivations.