Gotham City’s a busy place. Batman has little room in his schedule for stuff like a social life or happiness. Though despite his neverending, soul crushing war on crime, he gets lonely, and not just for the platonic company of flexible teenage boys. But who’s he supposed to date? He would have to constantly lie, cancel dates, and always worry about her safety. Well, what about a woman who can fit perfectly into his night time hobby? A woman who can protect herself?
Catwoman? Why, she’s purr-fect! Yes, I accept PayPal.
We should talk about her for a quick paragraph. Catwoman, real name Selina Kyle, had her origin reshaped by Frank Miller (he wrote Sin City and 300) as a prostitute with a heart of gold. She sees Batman beat up some bad guys and realizes she should learn to fight to protect the other hussies. And it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to crack a safe. Fast forward to today. She’s a master thief, skilled martial artist and has her own assortment of cat gadgets somehow hidden on that skintight costume.
Our adventure takes place in Batman: Hush, written by Jeph Loeb. Catwoman and Batman have been flirting forever, the only thing keeping them apart being Bruce Wayne’s difficult personality and Kyle’s ambiguous moral compass. Not anymore. Has Batman finally punched through the cautious and untrusting walls of his heart?
What melodrama you think! Bruce Wayne’s a player! He’s dated every socialite in Gotham – and before they get blown up or kidnapped! Yeah, Wayne has, but this isn’t Wayne we’re talking about. It’s Batman.
An argument frequently brought up by comic book fans remains which identity is the real one? Does Bruce Wayne hide his identity as Batman or does Batman pretend to be Bruce Wayne? I’m more in the latter camp. He dates models for that fake playboy image, but with Catwoman? He means it. Finally.
While Batman may not be the greatest boyfriend, don’t forget that Catwoman has some emotional hang ups of her own.
Look, Batman’s not a delicate flower or anything, but he did just expose his vulnerability by expressing affection for another human being. And Batman never does that. Though Kyle is a strong, independent woman who’s not going to be bossed around by a man in a giant bat costume. And to be fair, she’s right. Have you detected an upcoming theme?
We skip to Metropolis, where the two have arrived to capture Poison Ivy.
Wouldn’t make a good story without an impossible obstacle for our hero to overcome. C’mon, Poison Ivy has cool plant powers, but how tough can she possibly be? Besides actual proof that Catwoman cares for Batman, what reason would actually make Kyle worry? Nonchalant’s her middle name.
Oh, that reason. Batman versus the Poison Ivy-possessed Superman is one of the best fights between the two I’ve ever read. You have to read the book to find out though.
If you’ve read a lot of Batman comics, you may know that Catwoman isn’t the only woman capable of fighting alongside Batman. So why her? Why not Zatanna or Talia al Ghul? Because:
When you find that special lady who hates crime as much as you do, hold onto her.
Unfortunately, for as fast and nimble as Kyle is, she didn’t spend a decade traveling around Europe training under the finest martial artists and ninjas in the world. Y’know, like Batman did. Hush is 12 issues long, so I’m skipping a bunch of context and plot, but after Harley Quinn and Joker attack the opera, Catwoman gets injured.
Yes, she’s not some kid. Because he’s not attracted to kids, unlike what some political organizations want you to think. More importantly, her catty (sorry) behavior has a simple explanation: for this relationship to work, she has to be treated as an equal. Not just as a girlfriend, but as a superhero. I promise you Batman isn’t cradling a bleeding Green Lantern in his arms. She’s spent her entire life proving she doesn’t need anyone’s help and being seen as the damsel in distress hits a nerve.
Well, Batman needs his eyes to beat up bad guys, so he leaves to pursue the Joker. And in Batman’s fragile mental state, maybe it’s time to finally settle this Joker matter.
Y’see, Catwoman knows the slippery slope. Speaking of which, want to know why you shouldn’t date someone who punches for a living?
I’m just saying your boyfriend wouldn’t smack you in your open wound. You know how many diamonds it’s going to take for Kyle to get over this? Wayne’s lucky he’s a billionaire. But besides using his ninja arts on his old lady, he really does care about her. I promise.
And how does he prove that? How could Wayne show Catwoman that he sees her as an equal? That he loves her? You know who dates a lot? Nightwing. What’s his advice?
Oh yeah, forgot to mention that while Batman knows Kyle’s name, address, social security number and whatever else, Catwoman hasn’t the faintest idea of Batman’s identity. Now I’m no Dear Abby, but maybe the first step in a successful relationship is both people knowing each other’s names. Get ready for a pillar of panels.
So what happens now? Crimefighter babies? At least a tour of the bat cave.
Yup, happy ending. The two solve mysteries, patrol the city, make love while dodging bat guano. Family portraits, family Christmas cards, family waterpark trips. No, of course not.
Batman holds the title of world’s greatest detective. That comes with a flash flood of distrust. The first Robin left Batman because Batman didn’t trust him, and that’s after nearly a decade of the two being around each other almost 24/7. Wayne has some issues he needs to work through.
But he showed her his secret identity! He let her into his life! He hit her bloody shoulder! Look, Batman and Catwoman have known and flirted with each other for roughly fifteen comic book years at this point. Wayne’s close to middle aged and Kyle pushed past 30 a long time ago. And then finally he reveals his identity. Then he lets her into the underground cave. Then he’s actually sorry he beat her up. Catwoman’s not stupid. She tried, but if it took that long for Batman to let his guard down, it’ll take another decade and a half for him to be ready for an open and honest relationship. She’s far from a perfect girlfriend, but the unfortunate truth is that Batman’s way worse.
Luckily, this story does end with something that is rarely seen in Batman comics. Something that shows Batman has grown as a person and a superhero.
Yup, optimism. Pretty sweet, huh?