NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman #14
No matter when you choose to check in on the Dark Knight’s comic book adventures, it’s always hard to believe just what can transpire in the average day for DC’s Batman. In that sense, the arrival of DC’s “Rebirth” wasn’t as much of a world-altering endeavor for Bruce Wayne as it was for some of his colleagues. Sure, he’s gotten his back broken by Bane (again) and even has a brand new dog, but the New 52 saw him battling genetically modified Gothamites, and having his memory erased. The point is: no matter how strange Gotham City may become, there are some things in Batman’s life that never change.
The same goes for his romantic misadventures, too. Where Superman has Lois Lane, Barry Allen has Iris West, and Wonder Woman has Steve Trevor, there’s no happy ending waiting for Batman and his on-again, off-again romantic opposite, Catwoman. Both criminals in the eyes of the law, the differences between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have kept them apart… but their shard trauma, despair, and attraction have linked them from the start.
And finally, in Batman #14, the Bat and the Cat have given in to their urges.
Catwoman’s Clock is Ticking
As tempting as it may be to write off the romantic… union of Batman and Catwoman as simply an inevitable outcome after years of mutual attraction, the moment comes as part of a larger, more poignant, and restrained story told by writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads. For the fans who haven’t been following the current “Batman” run, “Rooftops” arrives hot on the heels of Bruce and Selina’s joint efforts to infiltrate Bane’s stronghold and extract a person of interest (the mission that saw Batman recruit his very own Suicide Squad). And just like the regular Suicide Squad, the team’s success meant a reduced sentence, courtesy of Amanda Waller herself. But for Selina’s crimes… there’s not much even Waller can do.
In gathering his team, Catwoman was revealed to be held prisoner in the very bowels of Arkham Asylum, with her identity concealed, having been found guilty of 237 counts of murder. At the time, she claimed to have hunted down and killed each and every member of a terrorist group that took the lives of innocent orphans (having spent time at the same orphanage during her own childhood). Having pulled through for Batman on his suicide mission – as if there was any doubt – he succeeded in reducing her sentence… to life in Blackgate with no chance of parole.
Surprisingly, it’s a life sentence Selina is willing to accept, even if Bruce believes she didn’t commit the murders she claims. Whatever her reasons, Selina concedes that she’ll go willingly with Bruce. And almost immediately, the subtext of how she actually hopes to spend her last night with Bruce is brought to the surface.
One Last Night
The exchange that follows is only possibly between two characters as beloved and established as Batman and Catwoman, with the duo truly accepting that their game has finally reached its conclusion. After all, while a thief, Selina Kyle is inherently a good person underneath the years of pain and baggage (something Bruce can sympathize with like no other). The term “kindred spirits” doesn’t quite capture their chemistry, allowing Selina to make one last request: she’ll go to prison willingly in the morning – but she wants to spend her last night with Bruce, doing… well, anything, really.
What follows is a love letter to the hero and villain, wrapped up in an even longer one to the fans, as Selina accompanies Bruce on a typical night of patroling Gotham. Taking down a dozen villains ranging from the obscure to even more obscure, the pair show they’re an even more lethal combination when their talents are combined (although Selina enjoys simply spectating for a handful of fistfights). Once Bruce’s needs for the night are met, she tells him to tag along as she deals with one final bit of business.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a task that puts their lives on the line, with Catwoman stealing a priceless “Victoria Cat” (a priceless figure that’s been missing for years) from an apartment rigged to explode, should the trinket be lifted. Diving out into Gotham in a storm of glass and fire, Selina reveals the truth behind the caper: it was her apartment, and contained inside the cat is Selina’s nest egg. The handful of diamonds are entrusted to Bruce, with orders to build an orphanage – or a dozen – when she’s sent away for good.
The sacrifice of that treasure, more than anything else, drives home the point for Bruce: this really is the last night Batman and Catwoman will have together. And as Selina tosses the diamonds to the rooftop around them, the pair decide to actually stop fighting what they’ve been trying to for years.
The Fight Finally Stops
It would actually be selling King’s ongoing story short to say that the coupling of Bruce and Selina was due to attraction, or even something close to love. In the aforementioned assault on Bane’s island fortress, Batman was forced to fight his way through dozens, if not hundreds of armed soldiers before finally reaching the villain who had once broken his back. As a result, death was most certainly on his mind – a point expressed in the form of a letter penned by Bruce, to Selina, revealed over the course of the issue. The conclusion, as we previously explained, was that Bruce Wayne’s journey to becoming Batman actually began with a suicide attempt. A decision to end his life, not with a blade or bullet, but with crime, battling it for as long as death took to arrive.
It was, Bruce knew, the same path towards self-destruction that Selina had also chosen. And for that very reason, whenever they touched, or kissed, the pain would stop for just a moment – both soothed by finding a soul equally doomed. As a result, the very thing that draws them together promises to force them apart… but not on this night, at least not when the issue leaves them silent, undressed, and in eachothers’ arms atop a Gotham roof.
We can guarantee that the second chapter of “Rooftops” will deliver the real punch of the story to this point. But until it arrives… well, let’s give the Bat and the Cat some privacy.
Batman #14 is available now.