SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ “Batman” #15, on sale now.
Many readers doubted that Catwoman truly killed 237 people, a mass-murder she was imprisoned for in “Batman” #9, but in the following issues and through the “I am Suicide” arc, Selina Kyle confessed to the crime over and over again. In “Batman” #15 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, the truth finally comes out, as Selina lets slip a small clue during the Cat and the Bat’s final romantic evening together before she’s locked away in prison for good.
As it turns out, Selina is taking responsibility for the actions of a childhood friend from the orphanage where she grew up, one who took revenge on the terrorists who set that orphanage ablaze: Holly Robinson.
Who is Holly Robinson?
Holly Robinson first appeared in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One,” where she stabs a disguised Bruce Wayne in the leg after he tries to save her from an assault. This moment is revisited as Batman and Catwoman reminisce about their first meeting — Selina insists this is their first encounter, while Bruce cites the Golden Age first meeting of Catwoman and Batman on a boat, when she tried to steal jewels while dressed as an old woman. (Gerads illustrates these reveries in period-appropriate styles, adding yet another level of enjoyment to the issue’s already strong storytelling.)
Writer Ed Brubaker discarded much of what came after for Holly — a marriage, her death — when he brought her back for his “Catwoman” run, eventually having her take over the title role after Selina became a mother. Much like Azbats (Fans’ nickname for Azreal when he took over the Batman mantle following “Knightfall”) before her, however, a more violent approach to being Catwoman, as well as being implicated in her mentor’s killing of Black Mask, ultimately doomed Holly’s costumed career.
“Batman” #15 seems to mark her first “Rebirth” appearance. For what it’s worth, the events of the Brubaker run likely do not fit into the compressed “Rebirth” timeline, but they point to a character who has been significant in Catwoman’s mythology and looks to be making a big return to prominence.
What we know for certain about this version of Holly is that she’s a skilled fighter, thanks to Selina training her while the two still lived at the orphanage. We also learn that she used these skills to hunt down and kill members of the terrorist sect responsible for burning the orphanage to the ground with 163 students, seven teachers and a janitor inside. She has been living under an assumed name for some time, while Selina has been renting apartments under her name to use as safe houses — the clue which, combined with Catwoman’s mention of a “Holly” in her early days, leads Batman to her door.
But Batman approaches Holly not as a suspect, but as someone who can help him find Selina, who has disappeared into the night rather than surrendering to imprisonment in Blackgate, as she had promised. Bruce makes a tearful plea for Holly to help him find Catwoman, assuring her that he knows she is innocent and confessing that “She’s the only one who … knows who I am. What I am. And she loves me anyway.”
So Holly does… this:
Catwoman saves the Dark Knight and returns him to the Batcave, laying out the whole scenario to Bruce as he lays unconscious. Holly, meanwhile, flees to Khandaq — a destination suggesting she may have more retribution to dole out.
While the mystery of Catwoman’s alleged crimes seems to be resolved, it looks as though this story will continue, though it’ll likely take a while to get into as the next arc involves Bane’s return to Gotham City with murder on his mind. What we do know is that Miller and Mazzuchelli’s seminal “Year One” appears to be DC Rebirth canon, and there’s a very dangerous, very unstable person who will demand Batman and Cawtoman’s attention… eventually.
“Batman” #15, by Tom King, Mitch Gerads and Clayton Cowles, is in stores now.