Finally after a year and a half Tom King, Clay Mann, and Liam Sharp’s Batman/Catwoman series has finally conclude. The end of Batman/Catwoman also marks the end of Tom King long running “The Bat & The Cat” narrative came to an end. “The Bat & The Cat” narrative was a major part of King’s Batman creative run that started during DC Rebirth Era back in 2016. Now that a story that’s been in making for 6 years how did it all turn out? Let’s break it all down by examining the thirteen-issue series Batman/Catwoman.
CREATIVE TEAM OF BATMAN/CATWOMAN
Issues: Batman/Catwoman #1 – Batman/Catwoman #12; Batman/Catwoman Annual
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Clay Mann (Batman/Catwoman #1-Batman/Catwoman #6; Batman/Catwoman #10-Batman/Catwoman #12); Liam Sharp (Batman/Catwoman #7-Batman/Catwoman #9); John Paul Leon (Batman/Catwoman Special); Bernard Chang and Shawn Crystal (Batman/Catwoman Special); Mitch Gerads (Batman/Catwoman Special)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (Batman/Catwoman #1-Batman/Catwoman #6; Batman/Catwoman #10-Batman/Catwoman #12); Liam Sharp (Batman/Catwoman #7-Batman/Catwoman #9); Dave Stewart (Batman/Catwoman Special)
At the end of Tom King’s run on the main Batman series he was able to conclude things on a somewhat happy ending with Batman defeating Bane and Flashpoint Thomas Wayne. The final pages of the run in Batman #85 with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle back together.
In terms of endings, that is as “happy ending” as we can get in comic books since Batman stories never end. And while he got to write an ending to his run on the main Batman series it was clear that King’s “The Bat & The Cat” narrative didn’t end as intended since the daggling story around Bruce and Selina failed attempt to get married was left unfinished.
Which is where Batman/Catwoman stepped in to give King the opportunity to wrap up “The Bat & The Cat” narrative King put a lot of work into during his run on the main Batman series. And much like his Batman run, King’s work on Batman/Catwoman had its fair share of ups and downs as we got a roller coaster ride of an ending to “The Bat & The Cat” narrative.
If you want to find out what took place in the majority of the issues of Batman/Catwoman you can check out my reviews at the links below:
THE BAT & THE CAT TOLD IN THREE TIMELINES
The immediate thing that stood out in Batman/Catwoman was the narrative decision to tell “The Bat & The Cat” story across three different timelines. Exploring different timelines is not new to what Tom King has done before. We saw in the War Of Jokes And Riddles and Batman Special #1 that King told stories both in the early days of Bruce’s time as Batman and the death of Bruce Wayne with Selina Kyle and the Batman Family around his deathbed. Its these two timelines along with whatever present day of the DC Universe that King works in for the story in Batman/Catwoman.
Since these three timelines are all periods that King has explored to various degrees it created a narrative structure unique to Batman/Catwoman. Though as Batman/Catwoman went on this unique narrative structure does not mean it was beneficial to the different character arcs King was trying to tell within “The Bat & The Cat” story.
The biggest problem that King ran into the deeper we got into Batman/Catwoman was how slowly the three connected stories moved along. Batman/Catwoman felt tied to this narrative structure King established that no single issue was able to give us a lot of time in just one timeline. As soon as we got into the story developing in one timeline we were whisked away to one of the other two timelines. It created a serious start and stop problem for a lot of the character development King was trying to do.
The only timeline of these three that was able to have some form of momentum was the one in the future set after Bruce Wayne’s passing with Helena Wayne operating as Batwoman. King did maximize the time given to this timeline that he wasn’t able to do the same with the other two timelines.
What helped the future timeline was that it was the most visually distinct as it is where we saw characters physically age. The past and present day timelines looked very similar, with the only real change being slight coloring differences to Catwoman’s costume. Not having three different styles for how characters looked did not help with the momentum of the three timelines.
SELINA KYLE’S WORLD, BRUCE WAYNE JUST LIVES IN IT
While the series was titled Batman/Catwoman there is no doubt that this was a Selina Kyle series. That may upset some Batman fans. Bruce’s development in Batman/Catwoman did not add new layers to the character. He was largely just another player for two of the three timelines in Batman/Catwoman.
That is not at all a bad thing from a narrative perspective since we came in knowing where Bruce Wayne stood in “The Bat & The Cat” story King has developed over the course of his run. Going into Batman/Catwoman we got at least 95% of “The Bat & The Cat” story framed from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. Spending the last 12 issues of a 100 issue cumulative creative run of “The Bat & The Cat” on Selina Kyle’s perspective opened things up to view the relationship between Bruce and Selina from a different angle.
It was certainly the most refreshing thing decision that King made. What we really saw from this is a better understanding of how Selina really never was part of the Batman Family world. Her relationship with Bruce was just between them. It wasn’t a case of the rest of the Batman Family accepting Bruce and Selina’s relationship. The opposite, since we saw at various points in King’s Batman run that Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Barbara Gordon, and other Batman Family members push for Bruce to be open to be in an actual relationship with Selina. But as their relationship developed we saw how Bruce and Selina liked keeping their relationship between themselves.
Which is where the past and future timelines were at there best. In both those timelines we saw how the person Selina trusted most was herself. Even when seemingly being in a happy relationship with Bruce up to his death she made decisions to keep certain things to herself to maintain that status quo. It made the dynamic Selina shared with not only Bruce but also Joker, Andrea Beaumont, Dick Grayson, and her own daughter Helena Wayne all have their different complexities.
If it wasn’t for the pacing issues with how the three different narratives Selina was the main character of her overall arc would’ve been stronger. But as we got closer to the end there were aspects of where Selina’s character development went that came across as rushed because of how much time we spent in different scenes. The final resolution for Selina’s arc in particular was hit hard as it was more of a twist just to have one rather than be a true payoff for how King developed Bruce and Selina’s relationship over the course of his run
ANDREA BEAUMONT DEBUT AS PHANTASM
Undoubtedly the character who ended up suffering most by the narrative choices made by King was Andrea Beaumont. Batman/Catwoman was the big debut of both Andrea and her identity as the Phantasm into the main DC Universe. But even in her debut King didn’t handle it as something that needed time to develop. Early on the way the character was written was as if she has always been part of the Batman franchise and not just one major appearance in an animated movie from the early 90s animated movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
That was already a bad note to start with developing Andrea’s character. From there the character motivation Andrea had to get revenge on Joker for the death of her son was the only thing she had going. We never really got a chance to have Andrea grow beyond that.
That forced limitation of the three timelines really hindered how much character development Andrea could receive. Especially since she was only a major player in one of the timelines there was only so much screen time she could have. And when she was in a scene Andrea shared that time with Batman, Catwoman, and Joker. Those three characters automatically is where the readers attention is taken. Which leads Andrea to just be a bit player in a story where her actions are what drive certain choices Bruce and Selina make.
Even in the Batman/Catwoman Special that acted as an interlude for the series was dedicated to Selina Kyle with Bruce and Helena as supporting cast members. The Batman/Catwoman Special was arguably the best issue of the entire series. But at the same time you can’t help but shake the feeling that it would’ve been a good place to show Andrea’s character history in the same treatment Selina got for the Special. Without that time spent getting to know Andrea ended up coming across as a character with a lot of lost potential because of how she was treated.
NO MORE JOKER STORIES, PLEASE!
We are beyond the point of not needing another Joker story. It was deeply disappointing that Batman/Catwoman turned out to be another story with Joker positioned as the main antagonist. Now I can’t argue tis wasn’t previously set-up by King. This did play into the role Joker served during King’s run in War Of Jokes And Riddles and the prelude to the failed Bruce and Selina wedding.
But at the same time Joker has been so overexposed at this point that his appearance did not do anything for this story. It was just a reminder that no other Batman villain is able to get a chance to be positioned a bigger threat than Joker. If we are getting an endgame-type story for Batman it always has to come back to Joker playing the role of main antagonist driving that side of the story.
It didn’t help that the whole relationship King tried to explore between Catwoman and Joker came across as completely artificial. At no point in any of the interactions between Catwoman and Joker did it read as a natural evolution of their story. Even when Catwoman was working with Phantasm to find Joker every aspect of the villains appearance in the series felt forced.
There is absolutely no reason for other Batman villains to not be given this spot. Villains like Black Mask, Two-Face, or Riddler would’ve worked just as well, if not better than, Joker did here. Drawing more of personal parallel to Catwoman’s history as a character would’ve actually served the narrative much better than just trying to tell another chapter in the never-ending war between Batman and Joker.
HELENA WAYNE MISSED OPPORTUNITY
The development of Helena Wayne in the future timeline that takes place after Bruce Wayne’s passing was the greatest success and dropping of the ball at the very end. Showing how a character’s legacy is carried on even after they retire or pass away is something I’m always interested in seeing. I think that is a cool way to show how strong of a legacy a character has by showing how others are not only inspired by but carry on what a character like Batman created.
That is where we see Helena shine best as she does come across as the best of both her parents. She has all the skills and abilities of both her parents as she is protecting Gotham City in her own way as Batwoman. Even the costume Helena has is a great combination of incorporating some of Catwoman’s costume into the Batman look. In the end Helena gets her own costume that not only has elements of both Batman and Catwoman but also steps into the more sleek design of Terry McGinnis’ Batman Beyond suit.
Adding to Helena’s core characteristics and cool Batwoman design was how we constantly saw her operate as Gotham City’s protector. She was clearly the one who has taken on Bruce’s legacy as the main protector of the city and who all the criminals now fear. We also saw how Helena was a detective on her father’s level with how she investigated Joker’s death and came to find out how her mother was responsible.
The thing that didn’t end up working was how a the end of things Helena was left looking like second fiddle to her mother. Much like Andrea, Helena became just another player in this story in the final issues of Batman/Catwoman. The strong character we saw throughout most of the series disappeared to put over Selina Kyle’s entire arc. While it could speak to the mother-daughter relationship they had the way it was written didn’t the goal of Helena and Selina’s story together.
ARTWORK STEALS THE SHOW
When it comes to the constant of Batman/Catwoman it was without a doubt the artwork. Clay Mann handled the bulk of the work for the series, drawing 9 of the 12 issues of Batman/Catwoman, made the entire comic have a big event feel. At all times it felt like we were reading the endgame to how Tom King intended to conclude his run. The splash pages in particular were stunning as he layered them with visuals that hit on the history between Bruce and Selina.
Liam Sharp did a great job stepping in for the three issues that Mann did not draw of Batman/Catwoman. Sharp’s artwork was a distinct departure from Mann’s style but fit the story of the three issues he drew well. There was a deep horror element to Sharp’s artwork that made it so when Joker was the focus you felt extreme concern for Batman, Catwoman, and Phantasm. So even if the Joker part of the narrative did not work from a writing aspect the visuals with Joker in them worked extremely well.
The artwork in Batman/Catwoman Special was equally special. That issue certainly hit different as it was the final comic book John Paul Leon worked on before his untimely passing. He wasn’t able to complete work on the Batman/Catwoman Special issue but the artwork he was able to finish was incredible. Leon was a truly special artist and you saw that with how he along with colorist Dave Stewart brought that to life.
Mitch Gerads, Bernard Chang, and Shawn Crystal all did great work in stepping in to finish the work on Batman/Catwoman Special. The pages they each drew for the remaining page count for Batman/Catwoman Special kept up the style Leon established with the beginning of the issue. It all came together to tell the history of Selina Kyle.
At the end of the day Batman/Catwoman acted as the finale to “The Bat & The Cat” narrative that Tom King spent a lot of time developing to make fans care. That is definitely where Batman/Catwoman shined most as you do feel invested in how “The Bat & The Cat” story will end. But like King’s entire Batman run Batman/Catwoman was not a perfect ending. Creative choices were made that impacted the pacing and overall direction for all the characters involved.
For all the positive and negative criticism for how Batman/Catwoman turned out I’m glad I read it. We got to the end of this story even if it wasn’t how I wished it would have gone. If you did read King’s Batman run than this is a comic book you should experience for yourself. But if you don’t have that built in history Batman/Catwoman did not do enough to stand on its own.