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 (romantic, familial, platonic, and team-oriented) 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 #3 (ie. the month of November):
Babs cannot date her physical therapist due to ‘ethical uneasiness’ on the side of Gregor.
Babs wants nothing to do with Dick (for the time being) and gives him a large lock of hair.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT:
White Rabbit has a strange/strong desire for Batman.
Bruce has an attraction to Jai and after his suspicions that she is White Rabbit are resolved, it seems the relationship has the potential to grow.
BATMAN AND ROBIN:
Batman + Robin = dysfunctional father/son relationship
Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer have a slowly progressing relationship with an issue-ending romantic scene and kiss.
BIRDS OF PREY:
The team is slowly forming and getting used to each other. A kink is thrown into the team in the form of Poison Ivy, but she ultimately passes the initiation.
Batman + Catwoman = NC-17
Bruce and Charlotte Rivers have a relationship that is quickly progressing towards a ‘serious’ label.
Dick recently joined the Mile High Club with girl-from-the-past Raya. This can no longer be considered a ‘one-night stand’ since he joins the Train Tracks Club in #3.
Penguin and Norman Bates have something in common. After Penguin’s mother dies, could there be someone new for him to love?
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS:
For a good time, call Starfire!
NEW THIS MONTH:
*Denotes SHIPPER OF THE MONTH pick.
#4: Roommates! Love them or not, we will probably all have some experience with them at some point in our lives. The best relationships, even with the worst people, help us grow. I am hopeful that Alysia and Barbara’s relationship helps both characters grow positively. Alysia obviously senses a good heart in Babs, as she readily opens up to her about her dreams and her best Christmas present ever. On the other side, Babs, while obviously beginning to warm to Alysia, is still holding back. She begins to open up but closes up rather quickly just as she is about to lay bare all things regarding the ‘miracle.’ I do not believe Babs does not trust Alysia, but this ‘miracle’ is a tough issue and she seems to clam up around everyone when it is brought up. Babs’ true feelings for Alysia are certainly represented by her gift to her: a Jo Wei ceramic cooking knife. While I believe that it seems too soon for the two realistically to have this type of close relationship (Babs still has unpacked boxes after all), it is nice for Babs to have someone that she may be able to talk to.
The conclusion of #4 leaves us with another question: what will the relationship between Babs Jr. and Babs Sr. be like?
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT:
#4: While this issue progresses a great deal story-wise, it does not progress far in terms of the relationship between Jai and Bruce. With that being said, the two panels of Jai do speak volumes. We see Jai sitting alone in a restaurant, presumably waiting for Bruce. Jai’s sadness is plainly visible. The only words we hear are Bruce’s:
‘What if you finally find a girl you can trust, but you still can’t trust her? What happens when she inevitably finds out she can’t trust you?’
These are heavy words for a man that does not have a large circle of those he trusts. To think that Jai is even a potential for this circle speaks volumes. Bruce must think highly of Jai, but this may also be a sign of a doomed relationship; either a relationship doomed by circumstances or by Bruce himself.
*BATMAN AND ROBIN:*
#4: This is one of my favorite relationships to follow. To say that Batman and Robin have a difficult relationship is an understatement. The two argue constantly, and each have good points to make but are still losing sight of what is important. Let’s break this down:
Damian: Damian has grown a great deal since the first issue, and despite his tough exterior, it is clear that he holds his father in high regard. How can I tell? Well, he does beg Morgan not to kill his father! Damian knows that his father has a lot to offer him in the way of knowledge and technique, and he is frustrated that his father does not trust him enough to teach him. He feels disrespected and treated more as a servant than a partner.
Bruce: Bruce does love his son dearly, and is perhaps overly-protective of him. This overly-protective nature forces Bruce to hide things from Damian and to keep him at arms-length, incorrectly believing that this is the right thing to do. Any sort of argument that Damian makes, whether rightly or wrongly, is somehow turned around and put back on Damian. This seems a bit much, and anything that Bruce says portrays him as a coldhearted father, when really the opposite is true.
Damian asks good questions à Bruce responds to questions by putting Damian in the hotseat à Damian gets upset à Bruce becomes colder
This is a tough circle that only will continue until the two men resolve their issues. This is the SHIPPER OF THE MONTH because I find this relationship thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and altogether very appropriate for the current story. The tough discussions that the two have only further the emotional gap between the two and make it easier for Morgan to insinuate himself between the two.
Another relationship that develops in this issue is Damian and the dog. Look how far Damian has come from ignoring the dog that Bruce gave him to actually naming the dog ‘Titus.’ I hope that this bears good-tidings of what is to come in the Batman-Robin relationship.
#4: When we last left Kate and Maggie, they shared a romantic/emotional kiss on the stairs. As we open up the scene of the new issue, we see that the kiss has progressed to a more physical stage. The pleasure of Kate and Maggie is juxtaposed with the pain of Bette, making both scenes all the more powerful. Part of me wishes that the relationship would have continued on the slow and steady path that it has been on for the previous three issues.
Nevertheless, the love scene means more than the Batman-Catwoman scene because of the emotion and feelings that exist between the two as exhibited in the previous issue. Maggie leaves with a tender kiss on Kate’s forehead, and one hopes that this relationship continues on the meaningful and romantic path that it has been on.
BIRDS OF PREY:
#4: Perhaps one of the more realistic team-dynamics out there, the Birds have yet to find their correct frequency. Like a dissonant chord in a musical composition, the members of the Birds all go together but right now there is still chafing between the members. Dinah and Ev seem to have the best relationship of all, clearly friends first teammates second. Katana still seems more of an individual than a member of a team. Ivy, while clearly passing the initiation process and acting as if she is on the team, is still distrusted by Ev. Until Ev can accept her fully, they will never truly work as a unit.
Then we have Batgirl. If Ivy was the kink in the previous issue, certainly Batgirl is the kink in this issue. How will the dynamics of the team change with a new addition? Batgirl already seems to seize the leadership position when Dinah is clearly the leader. Do Dinah and Babs still have the close relationship that they had pre-DCnU or has that been replaced by the Ev-Dinah friendship?
Despite all of these individuals coming together and still seeming somewhat like individuals, there are gleaming moments where they really do seem like a team. I look forward to the day when they finally make the right chord!
#4: Just as the scene between Bruce and Charlotte in this latest issue is quick, so will this analysis be. If you recall, after an office rendezvous, Bruce had expressed his desire to ‘get away’ with Charlotte. To see this actually happen, to see these two on the porch of a cabin in Colorado, speaks of the importance of the relationship. Why? Well, Dollmaker is running loose somewhere in Gotham City, Jim Gordon is getting over a physical and traumatic ordeal (probably in a Gotham City hospital), and there is a face—Joker’s face—hanging in Gotham Central. Gotham Gotham Gotham All these things are happening in Gotham City, and where is Bruce? Colorado! Bruce/Batman disregards all the important issues going on in Gotham City and steals away with a girl. I do not think that this is just any girl, but an important future for Bruce.
#4: As is evident in the first few pages, Dick and Raya are continuing their physical relationship. While it may have seemed that Dick was forward and acting like a cad, quite the opposite is true. When Dick prompts Raya to go on an old-fashioned date with him, Raya throws a fastball by saying that their relationship is nothing more than sex. Just enjoy it! One would think that Raya is going to continue with the ‘friends with benefits’ attitude, but this is unclear given the final two panels with her in it. Does she not knock because she wants to keep it casual or because she is hesitant about discovering Babs’ perspective on Dick’s personality herself? And is Dick a little too eager for an emotional relationship? After all, he is only able to describe her as ‘nice.’ It seems that Dick and Raya continue to be a big question-mark.
The greatest gift of this issue (ignoring all events from Batgirl #3) is the Dick/Babs relationship that is portrayed. Present is the fun, the comfort, the love that has always described the best points of their relationship. You can tell that they love each other given how they interact and Babs’ talk with Raya at the end. I hope that there is a time for Dick/Babs once again, though that time may not be now.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE:
#4: With the death of Oswald’s mother in the previous issue, it makes sense that Oswald will be looking for someone to fill the void. How felicitous that he happens upon a blind woman near the Penguin exhibit at the zoo. Like all whirlwind romances, this one is equally quick and dangerous: he asks her out right at their meeting at the zoo; the date is a candlelit dinner at his house; he gives her room in his mansion that night so that she does not have to trouble herself with walking home; he has someone killed for a diamond and gives that diamond to Cassandra; she says, ‘yes!’ As quickly as she has walked into his life, she is now bound to him.
It is great to see Oswald have someone who does not judge him for his appearance, but the relationship is built on deceit because Oswald is not being completely honest with Cassandra. While the quickness with which the relationship developed is disconcerting, equally disconcerting is the scene with Penguin destroying the crypt of his family. This shows his attachment and devotion to his mother and I am worried that he will become equally devoted to Cassandra and this will only lead to pain and suffering.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS:
#4: One word for you: ‘Rrric’hard.’ Why does Starfire call out for Richard? What could this mean, especially since she forgets things easily and has little emotional attachment to her ‘partners?’ Perhaps we will learn what this means in #5…or it will all be forgotten.
That is it for this month’s edition of Shipper Spotlight. Be sure to return next month as we continue to follow the relationships–romantic, familial, platonic, and team-oriented–that develop in the Bat-books. We saw Batman and Robin’s dysfunctional relationship knock Kate and Maggie from the SHIPPER OF THE MONTH spot! What will January hold in store for us?