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Gotham War: Why Batman and Catwoman could never truly stay enemies

As the DC crossover event Gotham War nears its conclusion, the Dark Knight and Catwoman have an overdue one-on-one

Catwoman claws Batman's back
Image credit: DC Comics

DC’s crossover event Gotham War has effectively turned most of the Bat-Family against the Dark Knight, with Batman and Catwoman violently differing on how to address criminality in Gotham City. As Batman and Robin brutally turned on any and all opposition, it became clear that Bruce Wayne is not entirely acting like himself, with his vicious back-up personality the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh taking control of his consciousness. However, the end of all the bitter acrimony may finally be in sight as Batman and Catwoman begin the long road of reconciliation together, spurred by common enemies.

Taking advantage of the mayhem is the immortal supervillain Vandal Savage and his daughter Scandal, seeking to become the new dominant force in Gotham while its heroes are preoccupied with fighting among themselves. Meanwhile, Catwoman’s strategy of recruiting the former henchmen of deadly supervillains around Gotham for the pursuit of non-violent crime targeting the rich and power has led to other villains responding defensively, with lethal efficiency. Here are the consequences of Gotham War so far, and how they have encouraged Batman and Catwoman to patch things up quickly, before their city suffers further from the mounting crossfire.

The end of Gotham War?

Batman reconciles with Catwoman
Image credit: DC Comics

From all the posturing on the opposing sides of the conflict, Gotham War has featured little direct conflict between Batman and Catwoman themselves, instead largely focusing on Batman battling either the Bat-Family or criminals that Selina Kyle oversees. This changes in Catwoman #58, by Tini Howard and Nico Leon, with Catwoman finally confronting Batman over how he neutralized Red Hood by brainwashing him after he decided to ally himself with Selina instead of his former mentor. What Selina finds is an unmasked Bruce in the middle of a nervous breakdown on one of Gotham’s rooftops, struggling with his warring personalities and what they have cost him so far.

Completely vulnerable, Bruce admits to Selina that could never bear to truly see her as his enemy, but urges her to have her associates stand down from her burgeoning criminal enterprise. Selina, on the other hand, is still shocked by what her ex-fiance has done to Jason Todd and questions him over it. The discussion is tabled when they come under attack from Vandal and Scandal. In the crossfire, Bruce and Selina find themselves embracing each other, remembering how they feel for one another before launching themselves back into the fray.

A mutual threat

Vandal and Scandal Savage announce themselves
Image credit: DC Comics

The Savages had infiltrated the proceedings for some time, with Scandal serving undercover as one of Selina’s trusted advisors, while Vandal planned for Wayne Manor and the Batcave to become his new base of operations. More than just building in-roads into Gotham while the heroes were distracted fighting each other, Vandal approaches the villains throughout the city for a chance to join him in for a chance at sharing immortality after wresting control from the warring heroes. With the villains frustrated that their henchmen have effectively been stolen away from them by Catwoman, they readily agree to Vandal’s offer and attack the divided heroes.

It is important to note that, despite this tender moment under fire between Batman and Catwoman, the two are still very much at odds, with some major issues unresolved. The Dark Knight is still vehemently against Selina continuing with criminal activities, non-violent though it may be, now with a full army at her disposal. For her part, Selina is still angry at Bruce, particularly for crossing the line by brainwashing Jason Todd and making his former protege a shell of himself. However, this brief moment highlights that Batman and Catwoman will always find themselves back in each other’s arms, a fact both characters are also well-aware of.

Casualties of war

Jason Todd stands broken
Image credit: DC Comics

Even as Batman and Catwoman start down the rocky road towards an inevitable reconciliation, there are still consequences that are set to shake the Bat-Family to its foundation for the foreseeable future. Though the dynamic between Batman and Red Hood has been fragile ever since Jason agreed to stop openly using lethal force, his decision to side with Catwoman and Batman subsequently brainwashing him makes their relationship as strained as it's ever been. And though Red Hood caught it the worst, each of the Bat-Family endured their own literal bumps and bruises as Batman quickly resorted to physical violence to combat his estranged allies.

Batman and Catwoman may patch things up by the time the dust ultimately settles between them, but there are going to be plenty of hurt feelings in its immediate aftermath. This doesn’t even account for what Vandal Savage is about to unleash upon the heroes, with the immortal supervillain and his growing army absolutely not backing down without a fight. Gotham often feels like a battlefield between the criminals, supervillains, and superheroes, but Gotham escalates this intensity and collateral damage to devastating levels, including the amount of emotional fallout.

Break-ups and shake-ups

Catwoman and Batman break up
Image credit: DC Comics

Gotham War is really just the latest in a recent line of misunderstandings and falling outs between Batman and Catwoman, with a varying range of consequences each time. The first notable incident took place in 2003’s Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, which saw the two costume figures begin a tacit romance as one of Bruce’s childhood friends set out to destroy him. Made paranoid by the conspiracy Hush orchestrated against him, Batman cannot bring himself to fully trust Catwoman, prompting her to end their blossoming romance at that time.

Batman and Catwoman’s biggest tiff before Gotham War was their failed engagement during Tom King’s run on the title. Manipulated by Bane, Selina leaves Bruce at the altar after accepting his proposal, convinced Gotham needs him as Batman and their marriage would interfere with that. The break-up weighs heavily on Batman, who had allowed himself to be enormously vulnerable around Selina before the dissolution of their relationship. Though the two would reconcile to take down Bane together, the start of James Tynion IV’s run begins with the couple deciding to give their romance a break.

Batman and Catwoman’s courtship is one of the most torrid and complicated romances in the DCU, with the star-crossed couple at their most emotionally vulnerable and open with one another than anyone else. However, that has led to bitter break-ups and heated disagreements that have left Gotham and its cast of colorful characters caught in the crossfire of these volatile lovers’ quarrel. Gotham War is the Dark Knight and master cat burglar at their most acrimonious and, even if a reconciliation is on the horizon, there are sure to be visible consequences moving forward.

Catwoman #58 is written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Nico Leon, colored by Veronica Gandini, and lettered by Lucas Gattoni. Gotham War continues in Batman/Catwoman: The Gotham War - Red Hood #2, on sale October 24 and written by Matthew Rosenberg, illustrated by Nikola Čižmešija, colored by Rex Lokus, and lettered by Troy Peteri.

If you need a guide to what, exactly, Gotham War is and where it's appeared so far, we've got that for you.

Sam Stone

Sam Stone: Sam Stone is an entertainment journalist based out of the Washington, D.C. area that has been working in the industry since 2016. Starting out as a columnist for the Image Comics preview magazine Image+, Sam also translated the Eisner Award nominated-Beowulf for the publisher. Sam has since written for CBR, Looper, and Marvel.com, with a penchant for Star Trek, Nintendo, and martial arts movies.


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