If you’re a Batman/Catwoman “‘shipper,” you’re having your moment in the sun, as Batman writer Tom King has set his sights on the on-again, off-again love affair that began all the way back in 1940. If you haven’t been keeping up, let me bring you up to speed: Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are engaged. Gotham’s billionaire playboy has called it a day, and his bride-to-be is the city’s most notorious jewel thief. It’s a match made in heaven -- or hell, depending on your perspective.
Tom King's Batman and the Love of His Life
King has taken the Dark Knight to some very dark places. Since taking over Batman at the beginning of DC Comics' Rebirth relaunch, he’s revealed a Bruce Wayne who tried to commit suicide at age 10, and who failed to contain the murderous impulses of the Joker and the Riddler during first year as the Caped Crusader. King has also shown a broken Catwoman who took the fall for 237 murders to protect a protégé whom she believes she has failed.
Along the way, King has poked fun at the billionaire as well: Bruce Wayne eating a hamburger with a knife and fork in a Batman-themed restaurant (Batman #16) was priceless, and his obliviousness to Alfred’s Christmas gift of a fully trained Bathound (Batman Annual #1) showed that even the world's greatest detective can miss obvious clues.
Perhaps the most enjoyable running gag is how Bruce and Selena have been shown multiple times, bickering about the way they met. The Bat insists it was on a boat, as shown in 1940s Batman #1; The Cat insists they met on the street, like in 1987’s Batman: Year One. This playful nod to ever-changing continuity is one of the many delights in a run that has taken the pair to new highs and lows.
The rooftop trysts of Batman #15-16 led to the proposal in Issue 24, and Selina’s acceptance in Issue 30 (at the conclusion of "The War of Jokes and Riddles"), but King didn’t take the relationship to the gut-punch level until Batman Annual #2. This imaginary story set in the Fuddverse recounted Bruce and Selina’s lives into old age, and concluded with the gray-haired Wayne succumbing to cancer.
As he’s done time and again, King then threw readers a curve ball. After the touching tale of a couple growing old together, he played Batman #36-37 for laughs. The story gave us a neurotic Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent obsessing about what their friendship means to each other as they sped toward at double date that ended up at superhero-themed night at the Hamilton County Fair. The background banter came to the fore in a screwball comedy that had Lois and Selina meeting each other for the first time, and swapping costumes so they could gain admission to the fair without giving away their secret identities
The witty repartee, the goofy premise, the constant game of one-upmanship, and the underlying darkness are reminiscent of the comedies of legendary Hollywood screenwriter/director Billy Wilder: our protagonists wearing each others’ drag recall his classic Some Like It Hot. King’s deft characterization has mined the tragic lives of Bruce and Selina for comedic gold in the pages of DC Comics, but can this approach translate to the big screen?