Batman Annual #2 Review
As counter intuitive as it is, I’m going to start with something a little spoilerish for those looking to start reading Batman’s Rebirth title, but it’s been around for a little while now, so you may know – Batman asked Catwoman to marry him. That said, this issue focuses on the premise that these two have a storied romantic history. It even goes forward in time to see their lives later on. This story shows how ‘Batman’ Batman can be. Unexpectedly good, especially since annuals generally tell a story that ordinarily wouldn’t be told.
The story opens years ago with Catwoman breaking into the Batcave, stealing and crashing the Batmobile, as well as leaving a mouse for Batman to find.
Then, we fast forward a little in time to see Bruce working on a case from the Riddler. Of course, he’s kept the mouse and given it a hamster wheel. As he takes notes and thinks about the case, the detective has a break through and goes to write it down, only to realize his pen is missing and that “she’s here.” He chases her through his house, promising to catch her. She teases that she’s called the cops and as she’s diving out the window, she says that we wouldn’t want the police seeing Bruce Wayne diving after her out of the window. Naturally, she escapes the police that she called and Bruce finds yet another mouse.
After another mini time jump, we find that Batman has upgraded his security only to have Catwoman break into his home yet again. As he confronts her, she’s opening a safe in his most secure room in the mansion. She finds a single pearl in the safe which he explains is from his mother. This is the first time in the issue that they have a true heart to heart. She points out that they were both alone as children and as adults that they have moments of crisis related to guilt. When asked why they fight, Batman replies that she’s a criminal and steals things and she repsonds that vigilantism isn’t exactly legal. Batman tells her that he’s trying to help and she says that she is too. Halfway through this conversation, she puts her finger on his chest and works it down to his belt where she deploys a smoke bomb and escapes. Oh yeah, she leaves another mouse.
Another time jump. Batman catches Catwoman attempting to break in again and demands to know why she keeps doing this. After initially dodging the question, she answers that it’s because he’s weak, she needs to make him better and show him where he’s weak or he will die. She calls him the darling mouse that can’t quite see the cat coming. He chases her through the rain across his property and she escapes, yet again. Also – another mouse, this time on his shoulder.
A small time jump sees Catwoman entering her home where Batman is waiting for her. He lies about how he tracked her and she calls him on it. She says he has known from the beginning, which he clearly has. He references their earlier conversation which leads to their first embrace. They discuss how they never thought it would end up like this. Then a running thread from Batman is brought up – where they first met. He says it was on a boat, she says it was on the street.
Final large time jump. They’re still having the back and forth over where they first met as they are older and in a doctor’s office. The doctor says that she has the results, although it’s never revealed what for. They leave the office and are walking in Gotham, where Bruce is telling Selina a story about his training and she breaks down a little on the street. As she pulls herself together and they continue their walk, Bruce struggles remembering where he is in the story, and she reminds him.
Selina speaks to her daughter, Helena, who has taken the mantle of Batwoman about her father. She says that after speaking to Zatanna, everyone has their time and it is just her dad’s time. Like her father, she sees the bat signal and is torn about whether to stay with her mom or go, but her mom urges her to go.
Bruce tells Selina that after, she should find Barry find Bruce from another Earth where he never gets married, old, or sick and that he’ll take care of her. The next day, she finds him working out in the Batcave struggling and admits that he can’t anymore. When then see her sitting by his side on his bed, surrounded by the Bat family. As Bruce dies, she tells him that she loves him. She goes down to the Batcave where she sits in the Batmobile as she did many years ago. In the passenger seat, she finds a kitten and a note that reads “I love you too, Cat. From the first kiss to the last.”
Reflections, Impressions, and Predictions
This book had WAY more heart and feels than I was expecting.
I loved that Batman allowed it to look like he was being outdueled by Catwoman, from the beginning all the way up until the (his) end.
There is an excellent running joke in the issue with Alfred caring for and being annoyed by all these mice that were being left behind.
Speaking of Alfred, he sings to the mice when he takes care of them, and it’s revisited later as Bruce is working out in the Batcave, long after Alfred is gone.
I had a serious eye roll when I saw the cover and read the ‘Date Nights/Last Rites’ tag, but it absolutely makes sense.
This book’s art was perfect for this issue. Hat’s off to the 2 artists Lee Weeks and Michael Lark who did this issue.
The story wraps nicely into the War of Jokes and Riddles story as well as the Rules of Engagement story.
I am left with curiosity about what takes Bruce down – it seems to be implied Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s not clear.
This wasn’t a story that I knew that I needed, but it adds some nice depth to their union. I hope this is something that they don’t retcon down the road.
Story – 9/10
Fits so well into what the Batman title is doing right now, despite being an annual. Very well written
Art – 9/10
Excellent Art top to bottom. Line work is excellent at places and really makes you want more.
Continuity/Character Consistency – 8/10
Again, fits well into what Batman is right now, but could spell out a little more when we are with the time jumps
Twist Factor – 9/10
The Twist Factor for this issue hinges largely on the emotions - specifically romance - that you get from reading this issue. It’s so unexpected and romantic, despite being a comic book.
Final Score – 9/10
Please go buy this book, especially if you are a fan of Batman and/or Catwoman