In DC’s new Batman/Catwoman Special #1, Bruce Wayne’s final tributes to those who raised him are very significant (despite being easily missed).
In DC’s Batman/Catwoman Special #1, Tom King reveals Bruce Wayne’s final tributes to those who raised him. While the new issue is largely focused on the significant Christmases celebrated by Selina Kyle’s Catwoman, it also reveals what Batman has left behind to honor the legacy of his three parents even after his own death. While each of them is significant for Tom King’s version of the Dark Knight, it’s not hard to miss them in the new issue.
Taking place in an alternate timeline following Tom King’s run on Batman, batman/catwoman sees Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle married, having a daughter, and Batman eventually retiring in his old age. However, to say that they lived happily ever after would not be entirely accurate. While there were moments of happiness, there was also strife and conflict due to Bruce’s seemingly unending crusade even in retirement and Selina’s struggle with her criminal tendencies. Furthermore, the death of Bruce has seen Selina finally killing the Joker, subsequently putting her in conflict with the new Batwoman (her daughter of Ella Helena).
Regardless, Batman/Catwoman Special #1 from Tom King, Bernard Chang, Shawn Crystal, Mitch Gerads, and the late John Paul Leon takes the time to feature the formative and significant Christmases experienced by Selina, many of which she’d share with Bruce and their daughter. On one such Christmas where it was Bruce’s turn to watch the city while Selina stayed home with Helena, it’s revealed that Bruce gets Helena pearls every year in honor of the pearls worn by his mother Martha. Likewise, another Christmas sees Helena having become Robin with Selina calling her by her full name de ella: Helena alfred Wayne, a homage to Alfred who served as Bruce’s surrogate father. Lastly, a more tragic Christmas sees Selina visiting Bruce’s grave after he’d passed, her headstone prominently featuring her middle name Thomas, the name of her biological father.
Helena’s middle name is certainly the healthiest tribute. This is fitting seeing as how Bruce’s relationship with Alfred was by far the most positive he’d had in his formative years following his parents’ deaths from him. Particularly in King’s run, Alfred always wanted Bruce to be happy beyond being the Batman. Unfortunately, the pearls are more problematic, seeing as how it suggests that Bruce is projecting his failure to save his mother onto his daughter from him, being stuck in the moment of trauma in the alleyway he’s never moved on from (another key focus from King’s work). While subtle, Thomas being featured on Bruce’s headstone communicates the idea that Bruce has conflated himself with his father from him, seeking to be the man who could have (or should have) saved his mother from him while also being the icon of justice and goodness Bruce strove to become. It’s no coincidence on the part of King either, seeing as how he had Bruce’s father from another universe working against Batman, trying to get Bruce to abandon the mantle of the Bat so he could lead a better life.
When they’re all put together, Bruce’s final tributes are very significant for Tom King’s version of Batman. Thomas was who Bruce was trying to be, Martha was who Bruce was trying to save, and Alfred was the one who helped him find meaning outside that cycle while still supporting his crusade. Although the tributes were small and brief in this new issue, they communicate volumes about this particular Batman and those who raised him.
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