SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Batman” #11, on sale now
Part three of writer Tom King and artist Mikel Janin’s “I am Suicide” arc sees the Dark Knight’s plan fall to pieces, as the raid to liberate the Psycho Pirate from Bane’s grasp is thwarted by a member of Batman’s hand-picked Suicide Squad.
After Batman escaped from Bane’s childhood cell last issue (as intended), in “Batman” #11 his squad breaks into three crews. Suicide Squad veteran Bronze Tiger takes Punch and Jewelee as a “gift” to Bane, serving as decoy; Catwoman and the Ventriloquist (sans the murderous dummy Scarface) are tasked with rescuing Psycho Pirate; and Batman goes off to do, well, Bat-things. But it all goes haywire when Catwoman abandons the Ventriloquist in the sewers, kills both jesters, and garrots the Tiger, offering her service to Bane in exchange for the tools to help her escape judgment for murder.
When we first meet Catwoman in issue #9, she is incarcerated in Arkham and charged with the murders of 237 people — readers don’t yet have the full story on this but, through narration in issue #10 and her actions here, it no longer seems in doubt that Selina did actually commit the crimes of which she is accused. If she had a good reason, we don’t yet know it, but Catwoman is convinced she’s not escaping the death penalty — even with the Suicide Squad plea and Batman’s vouching for her.
Batman’s Suicide Squad
Though Batman is operating under Waller’s Suicide Squad program, there has been no suggestion that he employs the explosive failsafes used to ensure the agents’ loyalty — these are people he trusts, for one reason or another. Each also has a particular use: Punch was the only villain to escape Santa Prisca prison, with Jewelee’s help; they provide operational knowledge and a plausible ransom to Bane. Bronze Tiger is a skilled fighter, while Catwoman, of course, knows how to infiltrate just about anywhere. His plans for the Ventriloquist, however, are unclear; he tells Catwoman that “without Wesker… no one gets out of here alive.” We don’t know why this would be the case, but Selina notably does not kill him when she betrays the team. Does she have her own plan for Bruce’s victory, one that better suits her own needs?
Cat and Mouse
King and Janin are clearly setting up another twist, providing tantalizing clues without giving up the game. Catwoman’s crime, it would seem, is not simply background but is almost certainly integral to the current story — and yet the connection is obscured. The truth about those 237 deaths, whatever it may be, likely has implications for the struggle against Bane.
The significance of the Ventriloquist is, of course, vital — how did Batman intend to use him, and is that plan still viable? The Dark Knight clearly knows something we don’t. And finally, the repetition of “break your damn back” of course harkens back to the “Knightfall” story arc so long ago, in which Bane famously crippled Batman. But what if there’s something more? “Batman” #11 marks the midpoint of “I am Suicide,” upping the intrigue for the final confrontation.
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