Questions are answered in Tom King and Clay Mann’s Batman/Catwoman #11, though many readers will find the resolutions to be lacking. King’s scripts have kept the reader at a distance in many ways. Between his non-linear narrative and the time skips between issues, it’s no surprise that when the pieces finally fall into place it can’t help but feel a little underwhelming after such a long wait.
Last issue ended with dramatic showdowns between Selina and Joker as well as Selina’s own daughter, Helena. Selina wins each of these fights, but the relationship between Helena and Selina has advanced in the time between the two issues. The very first page hints at the fact that Helena is now protecting her mother from Dick Grayson, who wants to bring Selina to justice. While I’m not against time skips, it does feel a bit cheap for King to develop a key part of Helena and Selina’s relationship “off-panel”. Thankfully, King doesn’t keep Helena’s and Selina’s newfound understanding a secret for very long as by the end of the issue we do see the pair reconcile. Much of the series has developed a cat and mouse dynamic between Selina and Helena, so this sudden shift into emotional catharsis feels sudden, especially since there isn’t any major twist or reveal to accompany this shift. These lower key sequences are aptly drawn by Clay Mann, and he smartly keeps his compositions simple to allow his facial acting, and the script, to do most of the heavy lifting. Tomeu Morey’s color choices in Selina and Helena’s conversation are interesting, with purple walls and a turquoise couch the duo sit on, but these pale colors allow the characters to pop out in comparison without being gaudy. I like the arc for Selina and Helena’s relationship, but it does feel like we skipped a chapter.
Less engaging are the earlier set scenes with Selina and Bruce teaming up once again to fight Joker. King is good at setting up these scenarios where Selina rides the line between villain and hero, but these sequences are out of place this late into the series. Nonetheless, it is funny to see Riddler hide in a trash can to evade Batman, with Selina’s “help”. On a visual level, this scene looks absolutely gorgeous since Morey’s green color palette fits not only with the Riddler’s appearance, but it also gives the scene an atmosphere and odor befitting a smoky alley full of garbage cans. A backlit splash panel with Batman in the alley, the batmobile behind him with its headlights on, is particularly stunning. However, King does lean a little too far into comedy when Riddler exposes his hiding spot by trying to clarify a riddle he told Selina earlier.
The subsequent fight between Selina, Batman, and Joker is visually sound, but I’m just not seeing the relevance of such a scene at this point. If it’s King’s way of reminding readers of the “good ol’ days” of Bruce and Selina’s relationship after so many issues of them at each other’s throats, then it succeeds. Unfortunately, I can’t see any other reason for this scene to take place and therefore it comes off more as filler in a penultimate issue. Mann’s compositions are at their best here, with large panels overlaid on a background that looks like wrapping paper, greatly aided by Morey’s vibrant colors.
The real meat of the issue lies with Andrea Beaumont and the subsequent reveal of the truth behind her son and his relationship with Joker. Andrea/Phantasm was a major selling point of the series, though the last few issues have veered away from her, but King finally delves into her backstory properly. After a few panels summarizing the events of Mask of the Phantasm, Andrea finally reveals how she came into “possession” of her adopted son. Marked spoilers are to follow from this point on.
That part of the backstory is fine, but unfortunately the whole reason Andrea’s son ends up murdered is a lot to take in within a short monologue. After finding letters from Bruce to Andrea, her son thinks his father is Batman and goes to Gotham to find him, only to end up murdered by Joker. That’s a lot of plot to be dumped right at the end of a series, especially since we only hear it summarized instead of it being dramatized visually. While this revelation does help all the previous pieces click together, most of the inherent drama takes place, once again, “off-panel” only for the reader to be caught up after the fact. Because of this, some of the most important plot points come off as reading a Wikipedia summary, instead of reading a narrative as it unfolds its secrets. At worst, King’s script merely telling us about emotionally harrowing plot points can be described as manipulative, or at least far too dependent on readers caring about Andrea’s son who had little to no pages actually dedicated to him. On top of that, Andrea presumably kills herself with her own blade on the final page, leaving no opportunity for further exploration of her character, if she does indeed die.
What remains after this bevy of exposition is a slight tinge of hollowness. The narrative is now clearer than ever, but the way King’s scripts brought us here could be described as needlessly complex. While the series was always a visual treat between Clay Mann and Liam Sharp’s pencils, I question whether the final issue can wrap everything up in a more organic way.
- If you’re still around at this point, there’s no reason to stop now.
- You want to see Andrea Beaumont’s importance return to the series.
- More early days flashbacks with Bruce and Selina don’t bore you.
Batman/Catwoman #11 will satisfy readers who simply want to know what the hell has been going on with the series’ narrative. While the answers here make sense, it’s hard to shake the feeling that King’s scripts kept the wrong things secret and instead of creating a satisfying mystery, they merely kept readers in the dark to cover up the fact that the core narrative is surprisingly simple. Despite its simplicity, there are a lot of important dramatic beats that don’t get the time they deserve to develop on page, and instead are summarized after the fact. This is not a bad issue, but I do question how the finale can make the entire series feel worth the journey.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.