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(Again – sorry for the delay, folks. Wisdom teeth extraction isn’t terribly conductive to productivity, a half-gallon of tranquilizers even less so.)
Original Airdate: November 19, 2005
Writer: Joseph Kuhr
Director: Christopher Berkeley
I recently came across a review of The Batman by one of my older e-buddies, in which he cited pacing as one of the show’s two biggest problems. My first instinct was to disagree, then mail him a box of angry cobras (only I get to criticize The Batman, donchaknow). Then I remembered today’s episode is the last time Catwoman gets anything resembling a spotlight, and she’s considered one of the less-wasted villains.
I don’t even like Catwoman that much, but after the bum deal That Other Show gave her, she definitely deserved better from this one. Instead, she gets a permanent demotion two seasons before the finish line, and her going-away party gets hijacked by Batgirl and the Joker, to boot.
But wait, maybe our special guest gatecrashers will do more good than harm! Let’s see what history has to say.
Catwoman and Batgirl got off to a fairly rocky start, since the latter was introduced in the ’60s and DC’s cure for writer’s block back then often boiled down to “rip off whatever Archie’s up to”. The Superman books got the worst of it, no doubt, but Gotham’s women were far from safe.
Fortunately, this angle was dropped after a story or two, and as Catwoman moved into grey hat territory, Batgirl became another upstanding Debbie Do-Gooder who could be teased and teamed up with – though never seduced, like Batman might be. Instead, Catwoman-Batgirl stories tend to be pretty straightforward girl-power affairs, with “Batgirl Returns” from That Other Show undoubtedly the most famous of the lot.*
(Of course, the two of them are nowhere near contemporaries in this show, so we’ll see how that shakes out.)
Catwoman and the Joker, meanwhile, have a much longer, twistier history. From a certain perspective, they’re almost siblings – not only were they both introduced in Batman #1, but they’d cross paths in the very next issue, in the first-ever meeting between two big-name rogues. And just like siblings, they could rarely stand to be in the same room for five seconds; team-ups were rare, and when they did happen the results were seldom pretty.
As the years went on, this animosity got worse. Modern writers love emphasizing Catwoman’s (relative) sanity almost as much as they love playing up how screw-loose the Joker is, and ever since Frank Miller introduced “Batman. Darling.” into Joker’s personality, well… the Bat-Cat-Bat love triangle might be dead, but the Bat-Cat-Clown one is still kicking.
Miller – and fellow ’80s stalwarts like Mike W. Barr – would use that dynamic to turn out some of the most disturbing moments in the Joker’s history, but I seriously doubt this episode’s going to be anything like that. Still, one never knows…