Batman has always been a loner. Sure, he has friends like Commissioner Gordon, comrades like Superman, family like his son Damian. But in a new Batman comic out this week, the Dark Knight tries his hand at forging a connection unlike any he’s ever had.
Batman #24, written by Tom King and illustrated by David Finch and Clay Mann, ends with Batman asking Catwoman to marry him. It’s something King and Finch have been leading toward ever since they took over the book with last year’s DC Rebirth initiative. Earlier this year, a two-part story called “Rooftops” featured Batman and Catwoman spending a romantic night together and confessing their love, only to be pulled apart by Catwoman’s legal troubles. Now they’ve gotten over that, and after a thoughtful conversation with his new protegé Gotham Girl, Batman decides to propose to his longtime frenemy… with the diamond Catwoman was trying to steal during their first encounter. She is certainly surprised, but it’s of a piece with what Batman has undergone in King’s run so far.
“I was like, everyone’s always introducing something evil to Gotham. I’ll hit him with something good and see how that changes him or morphs him,” King told EW back in March. “I wanted to bring Batman a challenge that he couldn’t defeat the way he normally defeats challenges. He sees that these characters might be better than him, in a good way. He sees a chance for them to succeed in ways he could never succeed.”
King was talking specifically about Batman dealing with the arrival of Gotham and Gotham Girl, two new and apparently well-meaning superheroes, but it also applies to his run in general. Batman has beaten Bane, outsmarted the Riddler, and faced down Darkseid himself… but can he handle a good thing in his life? Although he has a son with Talia al Ghul and a long list of previous paramours, Batman has never gone in for marriage before.
Intrigued viewers will have to wait some time to find out what happens next, as the next few issues of Batman will chronicle “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” a flashback to a previous conflict between the Riddler and the Joker. But the Batman #24 story is titled “Every Epilogue Is a Prelude,” hinting at the notion that everything in King and Finch’s story is connected.