Warning: The following contains spoilers for Batman Annual #4 by Tom King, Joge Fornes, Mike Norton, and Dave Stewart, on sale now.
Batman has had plenty of love interests over the years, most of whom have had some tie to the greater bizarreness of the DC Universe as a whole. Even his most normal girlfriends like Silver St. Cloud were high-society power players in the upper crust of Gotham City's wealthy elite.
However, Batman Annual #4 introduced one of Bruce Wayne's most normal girlfriends ever, his high school sweetheart Adrienne Williams, in a story that depicts his last night before he totally dedicated himself to his war on crime.
The main through-line of the issue is a series of excerpts from the journal of Alfred Pennyworth. He's been keeping track of the various absurd missions that Batman has gone on over the years. But amidst Batman's mixed martial arts bouts and occasional dragon-slaying, he journal recalls a sincere moment of lost love for a young Bruce Wayne.
On one of the pages written by Alfred, the butler remembers the night of March 11th, when Bruce attended the Robinson High School prom with Adrienne . It was only a few days before he was planning to leave Gotham to begin his training, but he still got the chance to enjoy one normal teenage experience before he left. The young couple even shared Bruce's first kiss as they danced to the music.
They eventually walked home together, and Bruce revealed his intentions to leave. It's treated as a very vulnerable moment for Bruce, who'd intended to lie and just depart. But after he tearfully tells her, their night together ended with them each other next to the Gotham River.
However, that would not be the last time Bruce Wayne encountered Adrienne Williams. Years later, well into his time as Batman, Bruce finds Adrienne in a bar nursing a drink. It's revealed that after Bruce left, she ended up marrying another man and forming something of a life for herself. He proved to be a criminal though, and he dragged her into his life of crime
According to Alfred's notes, Adrienne and her husband ended up cornered by the police. Shots were fired, and people were killed in the chaos. Adrienne escaped, and didn't know what to do. Instead of trying to bring in her for crimes while disguised as Batman, Bruce instead visits her as himself and has a drink with her. The two end up walking the same path they had in their youth, thinking back to younger, happier days. It's implied that she turned herself into the authorities after this, but it gave Bruce the chance to help an old love, at least in a small way.
The story of Adrienne is a small piece of the larger annual, which showcases the quiet tragedy of the life of Bruce Wayne. While his life is filled with fantastic moments, the sentiment of this tender teenage moment isn't too different from the way a lot of teens leave their young loves or friends as they go off to start a new life for themselves in college or elsewhere in the adult world.
As Alfred even observes, this prom was one of Bruce's final nights without the influence of Batman on his life. His narration suggests that Bruce and Adrienne may have sent each other down very different paths in life if they had stayed together. Since they didn't do that, all the couple can do is embrace once more, remembering days gone by in a story that's just one of the many quiet tragedies in Batman's life.