This week I’d like to take a step back from talking about video games and instead discuss something else I am becoming rather fond of – comic books. Lately I have been reading though a couple of comic book series’ back to back which are all about my favorite characters, Batman and Catwoman. I would like to share some of my opinions and thoughts on the ongoing relationship between these two characters and why I love it so much. Get ready folks, I’m about to get all mushy on you.
I don’t typically like romantic relationships in superhero comics. There are obviously some that are key to the characters’ story arc (Peter Parker and Mary Jane, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, etc), but most seems like an excuse to throw sex into a comic book or to create an exploitable weakness for a character. To be honest, I just really want to see superheros kicking ass and I feel like unnecessary romantic relationships slow things down. One of the few relationships that I am rather fond of is takes place between Catwoman and Batman and it’s one that isn’t quite your average “lovey-dovey” relationship. Throughout their individual comics they meet up here and there, share some flirty rapport, and occasionally hook up. The problem? One is a crime fighter and the other is a criminal. It’s not a relationship that is meant to be but it works in its own quirky, toxic way and it’s definitely meaningful throughout both characters’ stories.
One of the things that really stands out to me with these two is that Batman treats her with much more respect than he does any other criminal. I think part of this is due to the fact that she isn’t like most of the other criminals he faces, she’s no Joker, she’s just a cat burglar. Often times he gives her advice and genuinely tries to help her to make better choices. In Catwoman Volume 3 (New 53) the two first meet in a flashback. Catwoman and her partner in crime are attempting to steal some repossessed electronics (TV’s, stereos and the like) when Batman steps in, fights them both off, and not only compliments Catwoman on her combat skills but tells her to stick to stealing from the less needy. He knows it’s a crime but he also knows that she isn’t a bad person and doesn’t deserve to be treated like a common thug.
She also seems to have a lot of respect for him even though he cramps her style during heists. I believe that she trusts him and knows that he cares about her. Since she has had a tough life which has made her few friends and left her with no one to look out for her most of the time she appreciates the fact that he will be there for her when she is in a pickle.
In the same volume (Catwoman New 52 Volume 3) Catwoman steals a handful of paintings from a gallery in the Gotham Museum which she knows Batman is fond of. She sells them off and when she is inevitably confronted by Batman, who pleads for the return of the paintings, she decides to steals them back and replaces them in the gallery. She gained nothing from returning them other than Batman’s respect which means an awful lot more to her than she typically lets on. She knew that Batman liked them when she stole them and consciously did the job to get his attention, so she returned them since it was a selfish act. This kind of thing is not only one of my favorite aspects of Catwoman’s character (she does what she feels is morally right and fixes her mistakes) but it’s also a key part of her side of their relationship.
When Batman meets Catwoman/Selina Kyle in Batman: The Animated Series (The Cat and the Claw Parts 1 and 2) he does everything he can to protect her from getting killed by a brutal terrorist. She confesses that she has a thing for him and he makes it obvious that has a thing for her too (at least Bruce Wayne sure does) but since she broke the law he takes her in. Before he handcuffs her he tells her that he cares about her more than she will ever know.
I think these examples showcase what I love so much about this relationship. It’s reckless, it’s passionate, and it’s full of respect and caring for one another – even if it isn’t blatantly obvious. He can be overly righteous and she can be totally selfish, yet somehow it always works out. There are lots of other examples of this type of contact between the two characters throughout their individual comic book series’ as well as in the Arkham video game series, live action and animated movies/television shows. The way I see it, it’s not always about hooking up or even love with the Bat and the Cat. I’m not the sappy type, deeper, more meaningful affection tends to interest me a lot more than typical/stereotyped romance. To be honest, it’s just super awesome to see such a genuine relationship between my two favorite fictional characters, and I’m sure most of you can relate to that sentiment.
I obviously haven’t read every comic book out there for every character in every universe, so I now ask for you comic book fans to enlighten me: what are some of your favorite comic book romances and why?