Tom King continues to explore the Batman Universe in unprecedented ways. First, he revealed the Dark Knight’s deeply held depression, and now he enters the collective broken psyche of Gotham by exploring both Catwoman and Batman through their romantic relationship.
King recently wrapped up a storyline in which Batman and Catwoman break into a maximum security prison to take down a resurgent Bane. The storyline revealed just how truly broken Batman was as a person. But when they were free from their mission, the two decided to spend a romantic date night out before Catwoman turns herself in to the police.
Rather than a movie and a dinner, the two decide to spend the evening busting criminals, retrieving some stolen jewelry, and blowing up buildings (without harming innocent civilians). It would feel like a nice night, if it wasn’t for the fact that Batman wasn’t totally awkward throughout the whole thing.
King has written Batman as a kind of robot who either reveals himself through long-monologues, or short dialogue. Rather than creating an air of mystery around Batman, he comes off as repressed more than anything. Combined with Catwoman’s melancholy, the two’s relationship has never seemed more romantic, or sad for that matter.
It’s why the decision to let Batman and Catwoman spend their last night together crimefighting comes across as a nervous tick than a cheeky joke. And when the night finally ends with the two together on a rooftop, the whole night’s previous activities gives the sexual encounter at the end a more psychological edge, than a sensual one.
The great thing about King’s storytelling on Batman isn’t that he’s making the character darker for the sake of edginess, but rather he explores why the characters are who they are, and reveling in a kind of brokenness that makes the character more relatable, but also appear more alien as a result. The fact that the two keep referring to each other as “bat” and “cat” throughout the issue just hammers in the idea that these two characters aren’t wholly human.
Batman #14 is available now in comic book stores and digital retailers.