You have to hand it to DC Comics: they guaranteed that when their company wide relaunch brought a “Rebirth” to nearly every hero, Batman would enjoy the spoils like few others. It’s been a downright renaissance for members of the extended Bat-Family, with Robin starting his own Teen Titans, Batman Beyond breaking new (and dangerous) ground, and even the Dark Knight himself teaming up with Superman to raise their sons right. But the real drama facing Bruce Wayne can be found in the pages of “Batman: Rebirth” as he takes on one of his most famous foes.
With a Suicide Squad of his own former villains assembled, Bruce Wayne has headed to the island prison of Santa Prisca, the stronghold of Bane… you know, the villain who broke his back before he had the resolve and disciplined mission he now enjoys. After the previous issue saw Bruce Wayne have his back broken once again – then set it back into place himself – it seemed his plan may be back on track. Unfortunately, his entire scheme may have just been ruined by Catwoman – showing that the hundreds of lives she’s taken since she was last seen have really started to take their toll on her (and the throats of Batman’s recruited allies).
Selina Kyle, Mass Murderer
When Batman was assembling a team of Arkham Asylum inmates for this deadly mission, writer Tom King saved the best for last. Ventriloquist? Check. Bronze Tiger? Check. Punch and Jewlee? Check and check. A villainess possessing the same skills and tenacity as the Bat, buried deep in the bowels of Arkham in a straight-jacket and facemask? Well, that’s a job only Catwoman can fill, now that she’s sitting in prison awaiting the death penalty for murdering over 200 people.
The reasons behind her incarceration and crimes are offered in the form of a handwritten letter, drip-fed throughout Issue #10 of the “I Am Suicide” arc. The letter covers the missing time in Selina’s life since the end of her New 52 series, but keeps to her traditional origin story: she never knew her parents, and wound up in an orphanage: the Thomas and Martha Wayne Home for the Boys and Girls of Gotham. Foster families of “cruel” parents would follow, which led Selina back to the orphanage again and again – and the portrait of the Wayne Family hanging in its hallway.
The story of that orphanage turned out to be as tragic as the Waynes themselves, as Selina reminds Bruce of the terrorist bombing that reduced it to ash and rubble… killing 163 orphans living there at the time, 7 teachers, and one kind janitor. Once a Khandaq terrorist group dubbed the “Dogs of War” claimed responsibility, Selina took it upon herself to take them out one by one – all 237 members around the world.
Brought in By The Bat Himself
That’s a lot of throats to slit (Selina’s apparent preference for dispatching the dogs as silently and without warning as only a cat could manage), and Selina adds that part of the reasoning behind her efficiency was the knowledge that Bruce would know what she was up to as soon as it started. He clearly wasn’t fast enough to stop her mission, but Issue #11 shows that it was the Bat who brought the Cat into custody. And, as always, the two orphans who dress up as animals to fly over Gotham’s rooftops have more in common than they might like to admit.
After beating eachother bloody and exchanging in some typical banter during a flashback sequence showing how Selina wound up in Arkham, writer Tom King and artist Mikel Janin put the jokes aside as quickly as Bruce. Batman and Catwoman are famous for their chemistry, allowing eachother to both execute and prevent crimes, one chasing the other – who’s running just to keep up the chase. But as Selina herself points out, she turned her pain and loss into revenge and bloodlust, where Bruce turned it into a duty and vocation – and it’s that duty that’s finally forced his hand.
Selina Kyle is under arrest, and Bruce Wayne is the one to bring her in… knowing that her murders have painted a massive target on her own back. Readers can assume that it’s that price on her head that led Batman to placing her in total anonymity in Arkham (one last bit of sentimentality), but if his decision to recruit her onto his team was meant as an olive branch to show she wasn’t a mindless killer… that gesture is wasted as soon as Batman’s plan gets put into motion.
The Cat Always Comes Back
If things has gone according to plan, Bronze Tiger would have offered up Punch and Jewlee to Bane, and requesting only some advice in bringing down the Batman for his troubles. While Bane’s attention was occupied, Catwoman could sneak in, grab the Psycho-Pirate Bane’s holding prisoner (get the entire story on exactly why right here), and everyone could sneak out together. But once Catwoman exposes the plot and starts slitting throats… well, there’s just no going back from there.
It’s not all for the sake of causing chaos, of course, but the fact that with over 200 murder counts and a lethal injection waiting for her back home, Catwoman is looking for a way out. That escape plan is money and a flight courtesy of Bane, all offered in exchange for her betrayal. And no, we don’t just mean foiling his carefully laid plans, or killing two Arkham inmates entrusted to him for this suicide mission. In exchange for her freedom, Selina promises to tell Bane how to “finally break the Bat.”
Readers and fans can let their imagination run wild on that one, but we’re assuming that it will have more to do with a loved one or bystander being harmed instead of Batman himself. Whatever the answer, one thing is clear: Catwoman is more ruthless and murderous than most fans ever thought possible. And from the looks of it, she may not be done yet.
“Batman” #11 is available now.