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 #5 (ie. the month of January):
BATGIRL: Babs currently only has a strange relationship with her roommate and a struggling restart with her recently returned mother.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT: Bruce really wants to pursue a relationship with Jai but life/Batman keeps getting in the way. He also finds himself constantly chasing White Rabbit.
BATMAN AND ROBIN: Batman + Robin = dysfunctional father/son relationship, Robin + Titus = growing relationship, Robin + Morgan = Damian released
BATWOMAN: Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer have a sweet and developing relationship.
BIRDS OF PREY: Dare I say it? An actual team!
CATWOMAN: Batman + Catwoman = NC-17 Have we seen the last of it?
DETECTIVE COMICS: Bruce and Charlotte Rivers sitting in a cabin in Colorado.
THE HUNTRESS: None
NIGHTWING: Dick and Raya might have a future…if it were not for her relationship with Saiko.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE: Penguin and Cassandra, could this be love? Cassandra still believes Penguin is a good man.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS: Roy and Starfire may actually be developing an emotional relationship.
NEW THIS MONTH:
*Denotes SHIPPER OF THE MONTH pick.
#6: The relationship built up most in this issue is definitely that of Batgirl and Batman. While Bruce is under the suggestive powers of Gretel and Babs is deciding whether or not to throw a concussion Batarang, she thinks back to history with Batman. The most emotional moment in her life occurred shortly after she had been shot. Batman visits her in the hospital, and while she believes that he will throw out all sorts of negative comments, all he does is comfort her silently.
We read earlier that Bruce and Dick love Babs, but this issue is where we really see it come true. While we are not privy to their full history complete with the growth of trust and love, we do see how the relationship lies now. He tells her that she was ‘always meant to be Batgirl,’ trusts her plan at the ceremony, and even trusts her to do what she thinks best with Gretel. Batman sticks his neck out for her when McKenna threatens to take her in, and the two seem most chummy when they both ‘go to work.’ No, the duo does not seem like the well-oiled machine of Batman and Robin, but they seem like a tight partnership nonetheless. It is great to see Batgirl with Batman, not as a sidekick, but as a partner. The wordless trust between them also shows the love the between them as well.
This relationship does show us that Batgirl is an accepted member of the Bat family, and while it has only just appeared, perhaps to ease our question of whether Babs knows Bruce’s identity or not, I certainly hope that we can see a continuance of this relationship. Batgirl always looked up to Batman, and it was such a great step forward for her when she was fully accepted. To see that this Batgirl is more than just accepted lets me breathe a short sigh of relief.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT:
#6: Does White Rabbit flirt with every villain she happens to be in league with? Is Scarecrow the latest on her list?
And when will Batman finally realize that chasing White Rabbit will only lead to bad things…like punches in the face?
BATMAN AND ROBIN:
#6: When last we saw Robin and his newest mentor Morgan, the two seemed to working together as if this has been the fact for a long time. The previous issue ended with Damian holding a gun and us not knowing whether he is going to pull the trigger. He does. Morgan is 100% open with Damian, telling him of his past with Bruce and never hiding his true nature. This is something that Bruce cannot attest to.
While Damian holds many of the same beliefs that Morgan does, there is still a bit more humanity in Damian than in Morgan. When Morgan is about to dunk the man in acid, Damian tries to stop him, finally proving that he is more like his father than he really thought.
Morgan may have been a good mentor for a little while, but ultimately, through his tutelage, Damian finds his true self. What’s more, we also learn how deeply Damian cares about Bruce. Perhaps now that he is honest about his love for his father they will have a better relationship down the line.
#6: We have not see Kate and Maggie together for a little while. Although they are only shown in one panel together in this issue, a great deal is revealed. We see that their relationship has obviously developed physically, but it seems to be static when it comes to emotional truths. Maggie is shocked when Kate says that she has taken up boxing again, something which her father taught her in order to keep in shape. It seems that Kate has never mentioned her father before and Maggie tries to press for more. Kate does not want to go into it, or anything else, for that matter, she just wants to be with Maggie.
This Kate, one that does not want to talk about her pain or past, is one which we have seen before. This makes sense for the character, but what about that moment on the stairs so long ago when Kate broke down in front of Maggie? Can a relationship survive with no forward momentum in the way of emotional connections? I hope that Kate will somehow find the strength to reveal a little more about herself to Kate. She takes a leap saying that revealing all past relationships will cause problems, but it is not the relationships that Maggie needs to hear about.
Nothing new to report
BIRDS OF PREY:
#6: One exchange summarizes the state of the team thus far:
Choke (via mind-wiped office workers): How much do you trust your team?
#6: Since the hardcore love in the beginning of this series, we have not seen any progression in the Batman/Catwoman relationship. This issue has all their conflicting feelings come to a head. Words do not need to be said in their violent tango. Batman is thinking a little too simply in this issue, merely wanting the money back but not seeing what the money means or the trouble behind it all. Catwoman attempts to mask her pain through sarcasm, but it only lasts so long. In the heat of the moment, she tells the truth, that perhaps she wants to slip up and die.
We see what this relationship is really built upon when Batman walks away. Catwoman has the idea that it will be for a decent amount of time. I am not sure what I expected Batman to do, but it seems weak for him to walk away. If he cared for her at all he would have stayed and helped her through this, but instead he goes off on his own and with more of a regard for the damaged city than for Catwoman. Other than steamy moments, is there anything else to expect from this relationship?
#6: Bruce is protective: He sewed a tracking chip inside of the dress he bought for Charlotte. Perhaps it is better said that Bruce is over-protective.
Bruce is caring: He blames his feelings for Charlotte for clouding his judgment for a mere moment. Perhaps it is better said that Bruce puts a little too much power in his feelings.
This issue does not really portray the burgeoning love between Bruce and Charlotte that we have seen heretofore, rather we are treated to an obsessive and overly-protective love. This relationship has progressed to such an extent that Bruce now blames his faults on his feelings. This seems a bit much. Can we really be a fan of a relationship that has gone from 0 – 60 in less than a story arc? Colorado is one thing, a tracking device is quite another.
#6: Readers know now that there was a reason they disliked Raya given that she is dating the enemy Saiko. Could there be more to the story? In her conversation with Saiko, it is clear that Raya has some reservations. Saiko is able to convince her by saying that it has always been and will always be just the two of them.
With Saiko’s words still ringing in her ears, she still shows some of her earlier doubts while she is out on a date with Dick. Her words, her hesitancy, and her facial expressions all show how much she may disagree with this plan. It is especially tough for her given the setting of the Grayson tribute show. Perhaps Raya is just new to the badguy game and is having trouble accepting her new role. Perhaps she does not want to tarnish the Grayson name with whatever heinous act Saiko has planned. Or perhaps she actually cares about Dick and does not agree with Saiko. I hope that next week reveals more about Raya and whether we should continue to dislike her or maybe we should sympathize with her.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE:
#5: Tragic characters will either find hope in something and change their destiny or remain tragic. It is too bad that Penguin remains the tragic and jaded character that we have always known. In a few short issues, we have seen how quickly people can fall in love, that Cassandra stands by her man, and we all wondered what tragedy would befall her. In this final appearance of Cassandra, we see that she truly loves Oswald (as if there were any doubt) and thinks him so handsome. Oswald, due to years of ridicule and only trusting that his mother truly loved him, kills Cassandra. After learning that his beliefs differ from the truth, Penguin is left alone again. His tragic life continues as it started, with no hope of redemption or a normal life once Cassandra has lost hers.
*RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS:*
#6: The majority of relationships in this series involve Starfire, and the majority of times that we see interactions between one character and Starfire there is usually a sexual tone in the dialog. While at times this issue does have that, there are also some really special moments dotted throughout.
This issue is all about the history of Jason and Starfire. We start off with a naked Jason being nursed back to health by Starfire, given some of Dick’s clothes, and forging a bond with Starfire (in more ways than one). It is clear that there is chemistry between the two and they take advantage of it. What was refreshing is the way that the two seem to bond on a deeper level. They share their histories, doubts, and fears, forming a friendship before a romantic relationship. There is a deep trust and bond that forms which helps each of them, but it especially helps Jason heal from the rage and hate that seems to drive his life.
Yes, there are some badly placed moments like Starfire kissing Jason in order to assimilate herself to the language and…well, Starfire just walking around scantily-clad in a bikini, but these moments do not detract terribly from the wonderfully deep and emotional relationship that we see between the two characters. This relationship experienced a complete 180 from issue #1, and to do that, it truly deserves the Shipper of the Month title.
That’s it for this month’s installment of Shipper Spotlight. Where will the Shippers lie next month? Who will be my next pick for Shipper of the Month? Stay tuned next time to find out!
Posted by Stella Bowman