As Batman ’89 continues the unresolved plot lines and direction from Tim Burton’s Batman films, one familiar frenemy has just made a splashy return.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman ’89 #2, on sale now from DC Comics.
While the first issue of the continuation comic book series Batman ’89 largely continued planned plot lines and narrative loose ends from, appropriately enough, the 1989 Batman film helmed by Tim Burton and written by Sam Hamm, the series’ second issue makes it crystal clear that this particular story is also set after the events of 1992’s Batman Returns. This development is evidenced by not only the appearance of a programmable Batarang utilized by the Dark Knight over the course of the sequel film but also the return of one of the biggest, fan-favorite characters in any Batman film: Batman Returns‘ depiction of master thief and antihero Catwoman.
And judging by her appearance in Batman ’89 #2, Selina Kyle is still very much just as much of a wild card as ever when she makes her big return.
Batman Returns reimagined Selina as a timid secretary working for the unscrupulous businessman Max Schreck, with both her professional and personal life in shambles at the start of the film. After learning that Max plotted to steal Gotham City’s power surplus through an energy capacitor and positioning his own mayoral candidate in the Penguin to approve of its construction, Max murdered her by pushing her from his corporate skyscraper offices to the alleys below. Reborn by cats assembling under the moonlight, Selina became the uninhibited Catwoman, both launching a career of crime robbing Max’s corporate shops throughout the city but also defending women being menaced by the muggers and villains of the city. While briefly entering a truce with the Penguin against their mutual foe Batman, she struck up an immediate attraction to the Dark Knight but was last seen shot multiple times by Max and both apparently fatally electrocuted, with a denouement quietly confirming her survival.
Batman ’89 #2 — by Sam Hamm, Joe Quinones, Leonardo Ito and Clayton Cowles — has Bruce Wayne leap into action when local auto garage in the Burnside district of Gotham is set on fire by arsonists. As Bruce nears the scene, he discover that Catwoman is not only back but has already intercepted the arsonists and subdued all of them, leaving each of the crooks with visible cat scratches across their faces to make them easier to identify to the authorities later. While the nature of Catwoman surviving her electrifying experience and subsequent activities are not disclosed, she reveals that she has quietly been tailing Bruce for some time, still very much aware of his superhero secret and attracted to him, as she bids him to save innocents from the raging fire.
While Batman Returns was the final movie in the series directed by Burton, a spinoff starring Catwoman’s adventures after the events of the film in a different city were planned by Burton and Batman Returns screenwriter Daniel Waters. Stuck in development hell for years, the project was radically reworked as the solo Catwoman film starring Halle Berry as a completely different character taking on the mantle of the antihero in 2004, with no direct relation to Batman Returns or Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle, leaving Selina apparent survival one of Batman Returns‘ biggest loose ends.
Right from its opening issue, Batman ’89 has been something of a synthesis of many components of the extended Batman mythos rather than a mere follow-up to the two superhero movies Burton directed. Bringing in fan-favorite elements of the DC Animated Universe and the comic books, Hamm and Quinones have just revisited one of the most beloved characters from the Burton era of films as Catwoman has indeed lived to fight another day. And with Harvey Dent’s eventual transformation into Two-Face teased, the Dark Knight may soon need all the help he can get.
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