This week's Batman contains a shocking marriage proposal from Batman to Catwoman. While it's obviously too soon to tell whether the two will actually get married, it's important to note that they actually did get married in a comic book, years ago! Not only that, but they remained married for almost 20 years, with the marriage only ending due to tragedy. Read on to learn the history of Batman and Catwoman's past married life.
The trick, of course, is that the marriage took place not on the main DC Earth, but rather on Earth-2. You see, after superheroes fell out of favor at the start of the 1950s, DC Comics (then National Comics) dropped most of their superhero characters, with only their most popular heroes (like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and, for some reason, Aquaman and Green Arrow) continuing uninterrupted. Then, towards the end of the 1950s, DC decided to try to expand their superhero line of comics again. They introduced a new version of the Flash, Barry Allen, and he was a huge smash. They then introduced a new version of Green Lantrn, Hal Jordan, and he, too, was a big hit. They continued introducing new versions of their old heroes, like the Atom and Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Eventually, though, they decided to work their older heroes in, as well. Their solution was to reveal that there was an alternate version of the "main" DC Earth called Earth-2. On that world, all of the older DC heroes still remained active. So the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern were still around and they could team-up with their younger counterparts.
Over time, though, DC also began to address the fact that if the Golden Age versions of all of those characters existed, what about the characters who didn't get rebooted, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Arrow? They revealed that there were Earth-2 versions of those characters, as well. Naturally, then, those characters were given a bit more freedom to do things with them, since they were not the "real" versions of the characters in question anymore. Thus, the Earth-2 Robin grew up and became an adult hero, taking the place of the retired Batman in the Justice Society of America. Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane got married and, in DC Super Stars #17 (by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Bob Layton), we learned that Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman also got married!
However, no sooner than we learned of this awesome marriage, tragedy struck. The story revealed that Bruce and Selina had been married for a number of years and had a daughter named Helena, who was now a young woman. Bruce retired as Batman and become the new Gotham City Police Commissioner. Things were going great until Selina was accosted by one of her old henchmen. He insisted that she help him with one last job. When she refused, he revealed that he had a photograph of one of their old jobs that proved that she had murdered someone while on the job. It was an accidental death (she thought that her Cat o' nine tails whip had just knocked a guard out, but instead it accidentally got caught around his throat and strangled him to death) but she didn't want her perfect life with her husband and daughter tarnished by the news, so she agreed to pull the last job. Tragically, Gotham's costumed protector, Robin, was away on a special government mission, so Batman came out of retirement that night and it was he who responded to the robbery attempt led by Catwoman.
In the midst of the battle, perhaps due to not being in action for some time, Batman accidentally caused one of the crook's gun to go off when Batman hit him and the bullet tragically killed Catwoman...
So in the very same story that we learned that they got married, Catwoman was now dead.
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The death of her mother, though, compelled Helena to get into the family business, as it were, and she debuted as the Huntress in that same story.
When the Huntress tracked the criminal down, she discovered that he had actually faked the photograph that had proved that Catwoman had killed someone. Huntress joined the Justice Society and became a major hero, making her parents proud (although sadly, just two years later, Batman was killed, as well).
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Fans were naturally a bit upset that the romance between Batman and Catwoman took place in the same story that she was killed off. Luckily, six years later, DC then did a follow-up story showing how Batman and Catwoman got together. Written by Alan Brennert and drawn by Joe Staton and George Freeman, Brave and the Bold #197's "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" is one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, and surely the best Batman/Catwoman story ever told.
Since the Earth-2 Batman was also dead by this time, the story was told through Batman's autobiography, which detailed how he got together with Selina in the first place.
The story takes place 15 years into Batman's career, when he is attending the wedding of one of his former flames, Linda Page. He bemoans the fact that his Bruce Wayne playboy persona has kept him from settling down. Meanwhile, he knows that the villainous Scarecrow is on the loose and the bad guy attacks Linda Page's wedding and uses his fear gas on the attendees. The thing is, Batman's greatest fear at that moment is to lose all of the people closest to him and to be all alone, and thus sure enough, Robin, Batwoman, Linda - they all seemingly vanish!
Since the gas had made all of his friends vanish, his only hope is to turn to one of his enemies, Selina Kyle, the former Catwoman who had turned herself in after claiming that her stint as Catwoman had been caused by a brain injury. As they track down the Scarecrow together, they begin to bond, as Brennert writes some stunning character development scenes, like Catwoman helping to treat a new wound on Batman's scarred-filled body...
Or, when Catwoman accidentally lets it slip that she lied about the brain injury causing her life of crime, she instead reveals her real origins - getting away from an abusive marriage...
Brennert really managed to develop their relationship very far in just a handful of pages.
Of course, now that Batman has fallen for Catwoman, that means that she begins to disappear, as well, but she helps Batman fight through the illusion and break free...
He then quickly captured the Scarecrow and they married and spent 20 happy years together and, as the issue shows, they were then joined together in death, sharing the Wayne family plot together.
Now, will the Rebirth versions of Batman and Catwoman share a similar fate? Unlikely, as the Earth-2 versions had the benefit of not being the "real" Batman and Catwoman, but if you were ever going to emulate a past romance, this was the one to pick, as Brennert's love story of Batman and Catwoman is one of the all-time greats.