Happy Belated Thanksgiving! Shipper Spotlight is a monthly editorial by your very own Shipper-expert, Stella. Each month I will take a look at the developing and new relationships that appear in the Bat-books. How are these relationships progressing? Which are portrayed well? Which should never exist? What is my pick for SHIPPER OF THE MONTH? Stay tuned each month for this serious look into the world of fictional relationships.
The Shippers as they stand now after issue #2 (ie. the month of October):
Barbara Gordon and her physical therapist Gregor went on a date in issue #2, though Gregor showed some reluctance in taking their professional relationship to a new level. Barbara was actually the one to initiate the date.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT:
#1: Jaina Hudson makes quite the entrance at the party where Wayne is a key speaker. Jaina interrupts Wayne being interrogated by an IA officer. After a football metaphor and some heavy flirting, Jaina leaves, beckoning Bruce to chase her. Could she be the White Rabbit? This seems like a shallow beginning, and I would venture a guess that this relationship will go nowhere.
#2: White Rabbit and a buff Joker seem quite the couple at the end of this issue. Besides being exceptionally strange, I cannot really tell you much about this pairing.
BATMAN AND ROBIN:
None; the main relationship in this book is between father and son, as it should be. There is a great deal to pull apart and develop within this relationship, and adding another would only pull our attention away from the important issues. The relationship between the father and son is strained, at best. Robin is angry and fighting Batman at every turn. Batman is trying but struggling to connect to his son and to find ways of encouraging him. Without Alfred, Bruce would not have a clue.
We end #2 with Bruce finally saying ‘good job’ to his son. It probably feels weird to say and weird for Damian to hear.
None, though the path does seem to be opened for a potential romantic development between David Zamvimbi and Officer Kia Okuru.
#1: There was an obvious attraction between Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer when they first met and danced in Detective Comics #856. In this issue, we find Kate visiting Maggie at the Gotham Police Department. Kate is quite emotionally divided in this scene, as she sees Renee Montoya’s picture on a wall (is this a memorial?)—a past, serious relationship—and she flirts with Maggie in order to solicit a date invite.
#2: Kate and Maggie go to a bar and have an easy conversation on a difficult topic: Batwoman. The two agree to drop the first date awkwardness and pretend that they are old friends. This works well and even presses Maggie to offer Kate to come up to her apartment. Kate kindly declines with a kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand, and a wish to spend more time together soon. While some may rightly argue that she declined because of her nightly duties, I also feel like Kate declined because she sees something special in Maggie and wants to treat the relationship just as specially. We must also remember how close Kate was to Renee, so this may also be a way to protect herself from any further pain.
BIRDS OF PREY:
None, albeit some flirtation between Charlie Keen and Starling in #1, which is odd considering the fact that Keen is married.
In issue #1 the team is made-up of Black Canary and Starling. Issue #2 adds Katana to the mix. In regards to the team dynamic, the Birds act more as individuals rather than a team. Yes, they do make smart choices and follow Canary’s orders, but they do not move as one nor do they seem as unified as a seasoned team. I like this because it is realistic. There will be a time when they will act and think as a unit and be friends as well as teammates, but we must journey to get there.
#1-2: Erm…should I even touch this? We have all seen the panels. We all know what happened. What is worse: the fact that Batman and Catwoman took their fan-favorite attraction and flirting to the next level, or the fact that the ‘scene’ continues in #2? What makes this relationship a fan-favorite is because of the attraction that these two have but never fully act on because they realize the true differences between them. Catwoman will never be truly ‘good’ and Batman can never fully devote himself to anyone but Gotham City. To see this relationship progress to the degree it does in the comics; to hear the voiceover from Catwoman in how she describes their dalliance; to see Catwoman walk out on Batman rather than vice versa, this seems like a great betrayal.
#1: Charlotte Rivers is mentioned in the first issue when Bruce is expressing his regrets that he has again missed a date with her due to his ‘knight-life.’ The fact that Bruce says, ‘I like this one, Alfred,’ makes it seem as though this woman is different from the other women that Bruce has stood-up.
#2: Charlotte is in Bruce’s office when he arrives back from a business meeting. She interrogates him as to why he once again forgot her exclusive interview with him, distracts him with her low-cut shirt, and finally seduces him right in his office. They spend some brief moments together before Bruce has to dash off, but he is adamant about spending time together away from all of the distractions. This seems like it could very well become a serious relationship, but I question the timing of these ‘interactions’ with those found in Catwoman. I say that it could become something serious because of Bruce’s talk of ‘getting away from the world.’ Would Bruce sacrifice a night of vigilantism for her?
None (besides Moretti and his girls), though there does seem to be potential between Helena and Alessandro, if the story has the time and luxury.
#1: When Dick first sees Raya Vestri again, there is an obvious attraction and flirting ensues, much to the chagrin of Marc it seems.
#2: There must be a bit more than attraction though, since Raya demands to be taken to Atlantic City on a phoney errand and Dick complies. Yes, they grew up together, but they have not seen each other in several years. Well, that does not stop them from joining the Mile High Club on the way back to Gotham City! Again, we see the couple only spend a short time together before Dick gets the plane to turn around and then leaves as Nightwing. This certainly seems like a random and forced hook-up between two people that barely know each other. I also wonder if this is a way to get the attention away from the possibility of Dick/Babs.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE:
#1: There are heavy Oedipus Complex implications throughout. There are also multiple dalliances between Penguin’s parents in close proximity to little Oswald. These, in a word, are disturbing. The fact that Penguin is so close to his mother impacts the story and the character greatly. This relationship makes everything about Penguin’s background personal, rather than just another ‘I’m against the world,’ type of situation. This relationship also dictates Penguin’s first targets and motives for many of his actions.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS:
#1: Just like Catwoman, I feel like enough has already been said in regards to the scenes…you know which ones. Jason and Starfire were carrying on some sort of physical relationship that seemed focused more on the physical rather than the emotional. In the same issue we have Roy taking advantage of what Starfire is offering. Finally, we have only a vocal interaction between Jason and Essence, but it seems as if they both have had a past relationship which actually seems like it may have meant more to Jason than just easy sex. To see Starfire treated as just an object and to see Starfire actually play a part of this, is down right disappointing and incensing. A decent character is dragged through the mud and the guys are depicted as lowly and the ‘bad boys’ that every girl desires. Was this merely a way to show that this is a rag tag group with issues? Did we lose more than we gained?
NEW THIS MONTH:
*Denotes SHIPPER OF THE MONTH pick.
Batgirl #3 is a shipperific issue that reads much like a fanfic. Close to every line seems to have a double meaning. Take this for example:
Batgirl: “Hello, baby…you around here?”
Nightwing: “Stealing from the cops now, are we? Also, isn’t it a little weird to be talking to your bike?”
Batgirl: “That depends. Maybe I wasn’t talking to the bike.”
Batgirl’s entire narrative from then on is focused on her relationship with Dick from the time they met ‘a few years ago’ to now. She talks about how her perceptions of Dick have changed, how Dick was her first crush, and how it feels to be touched by him right now. In a touching flashback, we see how they both have changed from the young friends that they once were. Of course, like all Dick/Babs interactions, there are angry words and more than a verbal fight. This fight is so reminiscent of all the fights that the two have had, especially when Babs was in the chair. He is worried about her, and she takes that as meaning that he believes her to be weak. Luckily, it is all resolved in the words, ‘We love you;’ words that mean many things.
We then come upon the strangest scene in the entire issue, Babs cuts a lock of her hair, almost says, ‘I love you’ to Dick, but tells him that she needs to do this on her own and so he leaves. What does this mean? Why does she cut a lock of her hair? This gesture has been seen since ancient times. Locks of hair were usually linked with the individual’s spirit or vital force, thus, giving that lock to someone would grant the receiver power over the owner. Think back to your Bible stories of Samson and Delilah! The giving of a lock of hair is also a very romantic gesture, seen as a promise. Could this be a promise for the future? We see that Dick has his own romantic intrigues and Babs may or may not have hers, but if this issue teaches us anything, it’s that these two mean a lot to each other. Characters that are meant to be together do not stay separated for very long.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT:
I am sure many of you will be shocked and disappointed to learn that, out of all the books this month, The Dark Knight is the one that has little progression in the relationships introduced. It appears that the Joker/White Rabbit was just a trick of the light, as it were. Our long-eared friend was merely helping Joker out, feeding him information as to the serum. Harley-Joker Shippers need not be concerned, as it turns out Joker is not really Joker, but Clayface.
White Rabbit moves on rather quickly, flirting heavily with Batman (yet another metaphor is used, this time involving car maintenance) and even going so far as to say, ‘I like you!’ This relationship is quickly turning out to be what we (normally) come to expect of the Batman-Catwoman relationship. A woman who dances on the line between hero and villain, flirts with Batman, and beckons him to chase her. At least Catwoman does not try to inject Batman with an unknown substance.
Finally, since Jaina’s brief appearance in #1, I was wondering when she would return. In this issue we are treated to a dinner that goes absolutely nowhere. Bruce comments that he is happy that the two were able to spend time together. It seems that Jaina was very forward and prompted the dinner (this sounds familiar…*see Batgirl). Some of Jaina’s flirting seems reminiscent of someone else, which prompts Bruce to ask if she has a sister. Insert bad sex joke here. made by Jaina herself. Bruce is then interrupted with a text message from Alfred which tells him that White Rabbit has been spotted rather recently. Looks like the date can continue. So the entire date revolves around flirting and double entendres. If a house cannot be built on shift sands, can a relationship be built on such ephemeral things? Jai is the stereotypical woman that Bruce dates as a cover for his lifestyle. A character like this does not seem to offer anything deeper than a brief fling for Bruce. Does she seem like a deep character when her final words are, “Well, thank God for small mercies and lace panties. Now…are you interested in dessert?” I do not see this relationship going very far, especially if Jaina truly is White Rabbit.
BATMAN AND ROBIN:
Issue #3 makes great strides in the father-son relationship that makes this book. Batman really comes into his role as father: he is protective of Damian and prohibits him from going out on patrol, and he shows his love for and pride in his son, albeit in a misguided manner. The dog is representative of the struggles that Bruce is undergoing as a father. He wants his son’s love and he is ready to give so much of his own, but Damian is unsure of how to deal with it. This frustration felt by Damian really builds up in this issue and he acts out by disobeying his father and inadvertently placing himself in danger. Damian’s feelings leave him extremely vulnerable and Nobody will be able to easily manipulate him until he is able to come to terms with his relationship with Bruce. It will be interesting to see how far Nobody is able to push Damian and what it will take for him to come back from the edge.
Up to this issue, the relationship between Kate and Maggie has been developing at a slow but reasonable pace. I like the caution with which Kate has been progressing because it allows the readers to really invest in the relationship and watch it grow. This issue does not start out well for Kate, for as she is nearly drowning she is also standing up Maggie. This prompts Maggie to come to Kate’s place and confront her. What ensues is the most emotional and romantic scene I have yet encountered in the DCnU, and is the reason why it is my SHIPPER OF THE MONTH! Maggie catches Kate at an extremely raw time, she having just yelled at Bette and refusing to train her while at the same time recovering from a horribly traumatic episode with the Weeping Woman. Maggie presses Kate to talk to her which ends in Kate breaking down and Maggie holding her. This then leads to a special moment where the two share their first kiss.
This is the type of romance that all books should have. It is character driven so you actually care about the characters involved. It is not gratuitous so you are not immediately turned off. It is touching and emotional so you actually empathize. This was such a great moment that it even led me to read the entire Batwoman run in Detective Comics. It is well deserving of SHIPPER OF THE MONTH!
BIRDS OF PREY:
Issue #3 adds a new member, Poison Ivy, to the team. How does the team seem to interact now? When the issue starts off, it is not an overstatement to say that the Birds are divided. Katana and Starling both have reservations with an invitation given to Ivy, while Black Canary feels like it is in the best interest of the current mission to ask for her assistance. There certainly seems to be three different factions here. The explosion in the warehouse seems to act as a catalyst in pulling the Birds closer together. While Starling and Katana may still have trepidations surrounding Ivy’s presence, they all seem ready to put the mission first. On the train, again we see some synchronization, as each Bird has her own job, given by team leader Canary. With two members down, it will be interesting to see how the team proceeds and how they will interact in their first battle.
Issue #3 continues the Batman and Catwoman relationship, albeit in a different vein. As Catwoman proceeds to beat Bone with a bat (what is it with people and bats, anyway—cf. Robin: Year One), Batman appears in his usual manner and Catwoman wonders how he always knows where she is. Batman acts sympathetic in his own way and tells her that to continue would be destroying the person she is and that he would not be able to forgive her. In a moment that reflects all the interactions that we have seen of these two in the past, both let down their guards, if only for a moment. This kiss serves several purposes, not only as a way to comfort or find comfort, but as a way to distract, too. As has happened countless times before, Catwoman uses the attraction and Batman’s weakness for her to win the day. I finally feel like this relationship has gotten on track, following the true natures of the two characters, and I am also happy finally to see a non-gratuitous scene in this book.
On day one Dick meets Raya. On night two Dick sleeps with Raya on a plane. Does issue #3 develop the relationship any further? Well, it sure tries! The issue begins with a backflash, setting the stage for the introduction of an important character–Zane. We do not realize this until later because we are distracted by Raya’s role in this backflash. We see that even then, Raya and Dick shared an attraction. At the funeral, Raya accuses Dick of not staying in touch with the circus gang, when really she is accusing him of not staying in touch with her. She seems especially upset that he did not go to Raymond’s funeral. At the end of the issue, Dick goes to see Raya on the train to Philly. He explains that he heard what she was saying at the funeral, but explains that he was at Raymond’s funeral all those years ago. After he saw her there, he just could not approach because he knew how hard it would be to say goodbye again. Raya softens and they continue their relationship…if you catch my drift.
This relationship seems forced to me, and seems like just a distraction from the main story. Could this also be a way to prevent a Dick/Babs relationship? Whether it is or it is not, this issue seems like a romance novel. We are given a view into the characters’ past in an attempt to get us to care about them. Then we see that the relationship has a bit of a rocky moment so that we can add depth and see it ultimately progress to the end. Here we learn that Dick has even deeper feelings for Raya, and these feelings prevented him from approaching her years ago. This warms Raya’s heart, as we knew it would, and they make up. It is difficult to have an attachment to this couple when it seems so superficial with depth forced upon it. Whether or not this will change is anyone’s guess.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE:
The Oedipus Complex continues in issue #2 and seems to morph into a Norman Bates Complex once we see the unfortunate passing of Oswald’s mother. How will this impact Penguin and his motivations? In the past, this issue also shows us how Oswald ended up alone with his mother. As previously stated, his love of his mother seems to be the main driving force of his actions. The mysterious deaths of his father and siblings seem to be proof of this.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS:
Issue #3 finds little development in the Starfire and Roy relationship. I was shocked to see them acting somewhat like a couple, with Roy holding Starfire from behind during the outset of the issue. He does not seem like the best boyfriend, however, as he critiques Starfire’s memory and later makes a somewhat misogynistic remark regarding the fact that Starfire saved their lives rather than be grateful that he is not dead.
The surprising relationship that appears is that of Jason and Batman. In the final scenes of the issue, we certainly see the father/son relationship that Bruce and Damian could have. Jason walks off to let The Proctor do what he wants with Jason’s best memory. We then are treated to a scene in Jason’s past when he was still Robin. Jason has a cold and still wants to go on patrol while Alfred feels like it is not a good idea. Batman says that Jason is responsible enough to come up with his own decision, but then tells him to stay. Jason is then sick, miserable and angry in front of the television when Bruce comes in and explains that it is alright to take a night off once in a while. The two then proceed to watch television together while eating popcorn and Jason falls asleep on Bruce’s shoulder. This scene saved the entire issue for me. It was touching and full of emotion. To see Bruce take off from patrolling in order to be with Jason while he is sick just shows how much of a caring father he is. Batman does not only think of each Robin as his partner, but loves them greatly. This scene also really proves why Batman was so devastated when Jason was ‘killed.’ The father/son relationship in ‘Batman and Robin’ contrasts much with the relationship depicted here, and it leaves me wondering if Bruce and Damian will ever reach this point.
That is it for this month’s edition of Shipper Spotlight. Be sure to return next month as we continue to follow the relationships, both romantic and familial, that develop in the Bat-books. Let’s see if another relationship can knock Kate and Maggie from the SHIPPER OF THE MONTH spot!
Posted by Stella Bowman