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The Green, Green Rocks of Home...

Batman #612
writer: Jeph Loeb
artists: Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Ever since Frank Miller had Batman strap on Kryptonite gloves in a dark and dismal future, fans have been arguing over who would actually win in a fight between The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel.

Oh, sure, they've clashed in the past and in the future, pre- and post-crisis, usually with the help of some pesky mind-control as the plot device. For newer readers, the key point is being in continuity. Leave it to Loeb and Lee to answer that question in a run that would have been spectacular without it anyway.

Even though they stoop to the above-mentioned device, they get past it quickly, and give us the good stuff.

Under the control of Poison Ivy, Superman has been unleashed against Batman. But even when not in control of his faculties, Kal-El still can't help being who he is. So the answer as to who would win should be obvious: the guy who will do whatever it takes to win.

Grant Morrison and Mark Waid would agree, even though this time Batman doesn't have to stoop to any fancy-shmancy gimmick like rendering Superman's skin transparent. Simply put, he clearly never enters Metropolis without a piece of Superman's home town on his person.

Aside from the knock-down drag-out fight (tastefully decorated with sprigs of ivy strewn about Superman's personage), the re-burgeoning relationship between Batman and Catwoman has the most development. Still smarting from an earlier rooftop kiss, the two find time in the sewers to charge their defensive strategy against Superman with a slight erotic undercurrent.

Like the Superman vs. Batman idea, the Batman/Catwoman clinch is not a new ploy. As early as 1947, DC writers have toyed with their attraction. Back then, they revealed Catwoman to be a fake identity created by an amnesiac Selina Kyle, and Bruce Wayne found himself attracted to the hapless pet store owner. (Yes, a pet store owner.)

A few decades later, she revealed that she faked the amnesia, as she knew that Batman could never love a criminal. Of course, by then she had him hooked, and eventually they married and had a daughter, Helena. (sob…oh, my Birds of Prey…).

In the '80's, Mike Barr and Alan Davis flirted with reforming Catwoman, and for a while she fought alongside Batman, in that weird purple skirt. Catwoman wore it, I mean, not Batman. That romance faded when The Joker brainwashed her, which as we well know could put the kibosh on the strongest love.

So will DC let this time stick? Loeb has certainly handled it with a degree of sensitivity and cleverness. Fans should really want it to happen this time around.

Though not completely distracted by it, Batman has definitely lost a small amount of composure. From Loeb's glimpses of Bruce's thoughts, it's clear that he still feels the touch of her lips. And he certainly doesn't fight it when they kiss again.

Their dialogue echoes a scene from Superman: The Movie, but with a twist. Miss Tesmacher kissed Superman when he was weakest, saying "later, you might not let me." Knowing that Batman could lose against Superman, Selina comments, "later, you might not be able to."

It's an adult take, and I mean that in a good way. Clearly, she recognizes Batman's obsession. In Selina's own way, she, too, is finding a path to justice. For the first time in the characters' histories, they may actually be compatible.

And since Loeb and Lee have agreed to stay on for at least another six months beyond their initial twelve-issue run, there's time to prove it.


Derek McCaw

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