Review: Batman/Catwoman #9
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Liam Sharp
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman/Catwoman #9: Batman and Catwoman may have just gotten back together, but Joker is ready to complicate things by asking Selina for a favor that could lead to Batman’s demise! That’s not the only trick he has up his sleeve…he’s also hiding a secret that will drive Phantasm mad. Plus, Batwoman hunts down her own mother!
In Batman/Catwoman #9, there is a lot happening in all three storylines. First, In the past storyline, the Joker asks Catwoman for the secrets she knows about Batman. While in the present timeline, Batman and Catwoman face the Joker as he holds Phantasm hostage. And in the future timeline, Selina turns to the Penguin for help getting out of Gotham.
The past storyline reveals what’s been going on with the strange friendship that had developed between the Joker and Catwoman. The clown attempts to use this camaraderie to pose a question. He says, “Look my dear– we’re good friends. We’re such good friends. We’ve shared…I don’t know. But I know you enough. I really know you. I know you’re not the cold @$#% everyone says you are. Just tell me where he is. Please. After all, it is Christmas, dear. And I’ve been such a good boy”. As he says this, he holds a gun to her head, and Selina realizes that the Joker has been putting on an act. He has been cozying up to her just to get Batman’s secrets from her.
This shows how adept the Joker can be at manipulating people. Selina isn’t easily taken in, but the Joker managed to anyway. This betrayal angers her, leading to an imminent fight between the two.
In the present, we see the Joker strangling Phantasm, killing her in the presence of Batman and Catwoman. Or so it seems, it’s not confirmed that she’s dead, but it’s quite possible that she is. But we will have to wait to see if this is confirmed. Then the Joker sets off an explosion, leaving only himself and Selina standing. The pair are again poised to fight.
In the future, we see that the Penguin betrays Selina. Selina realizes this when her daughter, Batwoman enters the room to bring her to justice. Again, we see Selina about to engage in a fight – but this time with Helena.
The final page, beautifully rendered by Liam Sharp, shows how the three stories have converged to parallel conflicts. There are three panels showing Selina and her opponents in the same stances, on the verge of battle. The interesting thing, however, is that in the future panel, Selina is on the opposite side, taking the place that the Joker occupies in the other two panels. King and Sharp are making an important point here. Where Selina had been the heroine in the past and present, future Selina has become the villain.
Selina has been struggling with the question of whether she is good or evil at her core in this series, and it appears she has gone totally over to the dark side. But has she gone too far to be redeemed? This is the ultimate question of King’s series, and it will determine whether Batman/Catwoman will ultimately be a redemption arc for Selina or the story of her downfall.
I also quite enjoyed the scene between Bruce and Alfred. It’s strange that Alfred has been getting a lot of great scenes in a number of DC titles, despite his passing. His cutting wit is evident as he answers Bruce’s complaints about the villains with, “Well, children can be so cruel. I’m sure they’ll play with you next time, Master Bruce”.
But he does offer some sage advice to Bruce, who is conflicted because he loves Selina, even though she is a villain. He tells Bruce, “It has been my experience that when one person loves another, be it of romantic nature or even…even the love a father carries for a son. One can forgive the other…their eccentricities”.
I like that Alfred gives a second layer to his advice. He’s not just recommending that Bruce forgive Selina for her criminal activities, but also refers to his paternal love for Bruce allows him to forgive his crimefighting activities. I also love that Alfred affirms that his paternal relationship with Bruce. Alfred is as much a father to Bruce as Thomas Wayne was.
I think that my feelings about this series may ultimately depend on how Catwoman’s character arc ends. If, in the end, Selina decides that she’s evil at her core, I would find myself dissatisfied with that ending. While it would be a valid way to end this story, I would be much more satisfied if she were to pull back from the abyss and redeem herself. But while it’s possible she may have gone too far already, there are three issues left yet, so perhaps there’s hope yet.
Batman/Catwoman #9 is another great chapter in Tom King’s epic story. While Batman gets top billing, the real story is Selina’s journey of discovery about her own nature. But is it the story of her fall from grace – or her redemption? This series is proving to be a fascinating exploration of the character of Catwoman.