Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Batman #50.
Batman and Catwoman have a long, long history, dating back to 1940’s Batman #1, in which she disguises herself as an old woman to commit a burglary but is foiled by the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin. Even in that very issue, there was an inkling that Bruce Wayne’s eye had been turned by the beautiful Selina Kyle, even though they supposedly reside on opposite sides of the fence called “Justice”.
That initial attraction led to a decades-long flirtation and on-off romance that never quite got going, until last August, when Bruce finally proposed to Selina. Since then, it’s been another seemingly long wait for Batman #50 (released last Wednesday), in which the Bat and the Cat finally tie the knot in an oversized issue filled with guest artist cameos by Batman legends Frank Miller, Paul Pope, Jim Lee, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Greg Caupllo and others. Of course, regular artist Mikel Janin is no pushover either, and holds his own in this stellar issue.
Anyway, I know you’re dying to find out: does the Bat and the Cat get to live happily ever after?
Well, this is where you should probably stop reading if you don’t want to find out what happened during Batman #50.
No, really, look away now if you don’t want spoilers (though the New York Times probably did that for you already)
Ok. Read on after the picture.
The answer to that question is, well, no. In fact, that contemplating that “happily ever after” part was the straw that broke the camel’s, or rather, the cat’s back, as Selina suddenly realises that by giving him happiness, she is actually “killing” Batman.
After all, the only reason he has been able to be so good at Batman is because he’s been so unhappy, and had so much hurt that it fuelled his desire to be the hero he is. Not wanting to be the one who “kills” Batman by making him happy, Selina decides to leave.
Yes, after months of teasing us with the upcoming wedding, Batman #50 sees Selina leaving Bruce at the altar. What a bummer.
After the New York Times unceremoniously spoiled that twist for Batman fans last weekend with a pre-publication article headlined “Catwoman leaves Batman at the altar”, writer Tom King has tried to address the controversy by tweeting “Batman 50 is not the end. This is a 100 issue story documenting and celebrating the love of Batman and Catwoman.”
Batman 50 is not the end. This is a 100 issue story documenting and celebrating the love of Batman and Catwoman. Whatever happens, whatever anyone says, nothing’s going to spoil that. pic.twitter.com/Crm5t0CKcI
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) 2 July 2018
The highlight of Batman #50 isn’t that twist though. It’s watching Bruce and Selina going through the motions, each preparing for the wedding in his and her own way, which includes Bruce touchingly asking Alfred to be his witness because “it’s been the two of us. Since the beginning. I can’t do anything without you, really. I never could. Or well.”
The way the guest artists pages are used to commemorate every iconic scene and costume the two have been through together over the years is also a lovely touch.
It’s moments like these that really give you hope for the couple, hope that lasts for a few more pages before King decides to rip it all away in glorious fashion.
King’s run on Batman has been arguably one of the greatest in recent Bat-history, rivalling, and in some parts, even surpassing his predecessor Scott Snyder.
Batman #50 is his crowning glory.
It’s a slow-burning issue in which he deftly uses the aforementioned artist cameo pages as the canvas for two intertwining letters from the lovers to each other, in which they both declare their love for each other, and, in Catwoman’s case, why she can’t marry him.
King lets the story unfurl then unravel with each passing passage of the letters – we can see all the wheels turning and heading towards the seemingly inevitable tying of the knot, but at the same time, there are hints of nuts loosening and doubts being sowed.
By the time we’re at the point of no return, the realisation hits you not with a gut punch, but with a sad resignation that maybe there really is no way Batman could ever be happy and still be Batman.
Where this leaves our heartbroken hero is yet to be known. Catwoman has already moved on, or rather, away from Gotham into her new ongoing Catwoman series. And the epilogue of Batman #50, which suggests that Bane and the rest of Batman’s rogues might have had something to do with the Bat/Cat breakup, hints at a turmulous time ahead for the Dark Knight.
With King in the form that he is in right now, we can’t wait to see which way he takes our broken Bat next.