In my review of the first issue of Batman/Catwoman #2, I said this series was Tom King at his most self-indulgent and navel-gazing, where he’s being incredibly self-referential and otherwise full of himself. And for a lot of people, that might be too much — King’s style definitely isn’t for everyone, and even for fans like me it can get to be a bit much. And while I really enjoyed the first issue because it leaned into all his quirks and tendencies that I enjoy, this one leaned far more into his stylistic choices that don’t work. While the artwork and King’s penchant for structure are still just as enjoyable as they were the first time, the actual contents of this issue did not hold up.
The actual plot of the issue is centered around Catwoman lying to Batman, trying to keep him unaware of the fact that she hasn’t been as good as she promised to be. And honestly, it’s just not that compelling. It feels like the issue is trying to remind readers that Selina Kyle is not a good person, and that a relationship with her is a poor decision from Batman. And that’s a really weird core theme of a book that’s centered around the future where Batman and Catwoman marry and have a happy life together. I feel like what King’s trying to do is show that their relationship isn’t perfect, but as of now it’s veered a bit too hard in that direction — I’m no longer convinced of the strength of the Batman/Catwoman connection.
In fact, King’s entire characterization of Selina here feels designed to make her as unlikable as possible. There’s the aforementioned lying to Batman and desperation to not be caught, yeah, but she’s also just so… manipulative. There’s a scene where she essentially throws a tantrum because Joker doesn’t care about maintaining her good standing with Batman, and there’s a pretty major point where she’s clearly trying to lead Batman away from a crime because there’s a chance her involvement could be uncovered. What made the Bruce and Selina relationship work in King’s Batman wasn’t that Selina was perfect, but that she accepted that she wasn’t but still tried to be good. This issue feels like it’s spitting in the face of that idea; Selina isn’t even trying to be good, she’s just pretending so that she can have her happy life with Batman. The characterization, more than anything, just feels inconsistent with the Selina we’ve come to know over the last 80 years.
But in what will likely be a theme for every issue of this book, Clay Mann makes the reading experience an enjoyable one. His art is beautiful, and provides a level of dynamism and expression to the work that’s really important. Tomeu Morey’s colors work incredibly well with Mann’s artwork, creating an atmosphere that’s palpable — as the book transitions between timelines, it’s always clear that a shift is happening, something that is entirely a feat of the striking colors of the book. I have only positive things to say about the artwork of the book, which serves a a consistent glue that binds the script together.
I can’t help but wonder if this book would be more satisfying as a 12-issue collected edition, rather than being read in these chunks. Because aside from the chapter titles that open and close each issue, there’s very little to denote any pause in the story that would naturally befit a month-long wait for the next chapter.
As it stands, Batman/Catwoman is a strange experience, one that likely will not be worth it for people who aren’t already heavily invested in Tom King’s Batman story. Of course, that means I’m going to continue reading each issue as it comes out, and probably writing about each one too. Catch you next time.
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