SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #82 by Tom King, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Gotham City has always been Batman's city. In Tom King's current Batman run, though, DC's grimiest municipality has recently fallen under Bane's control, as seen in the ongoing and fittingly titled "City of Bane" arc. However, another DC icon has another opinion on the matter and claims that the city doesn't belong to either one of them.
And in King, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles' Batman #82, Selina Kyle claims that the city is hers, and she just might be right. But how can Catwoman – historically a villain, and only one of many in Batman's rogues gallery, at that – make such a claim?
Shadow of The Cat
Batman and Catwoman have been planning their move against Bane for quite some time now. After arriving at the Bane-occupied Wayne Manor, the couple confront the villain, ready to take him down once and for all. While Batman shakes off a blow in the ensuing battle, Catwoman engages Bane both physically and verbally. "(You're) thinking Gotham belonged to the boy on the hill," Selina tells him, in clear reference to Bruce, "Instead of the stray on the street," in equally clear reference to herself.
"You fool," she goes on. "It's not his city. It's not yours."
"It's mine," she concludes.
While that might sound like an empty boast at first, she has a point. Historically, Gotham has long been plagued by street-level crime. Even before flamboyant foes such as the Joker and the Riddler made the scene, committing their own splashy and colorful wrongdoings, there were already the more common, real-world crimes like arson, assault and larceny. And of course, Selina Kyle was one of Gotham's most notorious thieves long before she met Batman.
City of Catwoman
Selina personifies the dark, street-level occurrences that happen in the shadows of Gotham's alleys and sidewalks. Crime is everywhere, even if Batman is usually there to prevent illegal acts like Firefly threatening to torch an entire block or a mugger stealing an old lady's purse. But while Batman can stop individual offenses, he can't stop crime as a whole. It's always there. His heroism puts a dent in it, but like a virus with no cure, he can't eliminate it.
While Batman is the face of what makes the city better, Selina is truly the face of what the city truly is. Batman lives within the caves beneath his mansion on the hill, but Catwoman has always skulked about in the city's alleyways. The are no crimes committed in Wayne Manor, but in Gotham's back alleys, there are far too many.
So Selina's words to Bane are probably meant as a psychological distraction against him, but they're not mere posturing. There's a truth to them, and while that truth doesn't necessarily have any impact on the battle's outcome, it sends a message to Bane: the city isn't his. It never was, but it was never Batman's, either.
When the struggle with Bane is over, and Bruce and Selina start rebuilding their lives, Bruce just might ask her exactly what she meant about Gotham being "her" city. But unlike their recently concluded boat/street debate, their potential ongoing dispute over who Gotham truly "belongs" stands to be an argument that they never really settle.