Some people say love is a many splendored thing -- but for Batman and Catwoman love is a battlefield! Ever since they first met, way back in 1940, the Bat and the Cat have played a complex game of “will they or won’t they” across the rooftops of Gotham City. Their stormy romance is the cornerstone of writer Tom King’s current ‘Batman’ run, culiminating in 'Batman' #50 (read it here on DC Universe) and King's upcoming ‘Batman and Catwoman’ series. Whether you’re a longtime Bat-Cat shipper, or you were just introduced to their decades-long, on-again/off-again romance, we’ve put together a handy guide to the comics depicting pivotal moments in their relationship. Here’s your chance to learn how their relationship has evolved and deepened over the years. So, slide on over Sam and Diane, move aside Ross and Rachel, and make way Jim and Pam – here's everything you need to know about Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle...
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: First meeting
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #1
THE STORY: It all began on a boat, or at least that’s the way Batman remembers it. Batman meets Catwoman (called “The Cat” at the time) in this classic Golden Age tale, as the cat burglar attempts to rob a luxury yacht. Batman is immediately taken by her beauty, and although he captures her, the Caped Crusader feigns clumsiness to allow the Feline Fatale to escape. Their mutual attraction was apparent to the readers from the beginning, and to Robin, who was bemused by his mentor’s lapse in morality. At the time, Bruce Wayne was still engaged to Julie Madison, but his encounter with the Cat left him so infatuated, that he mused about her beautiful eyes to Robin for the rest of their boat trip home. This was one of Batman and Robin’s first adventures together, and one must wonder if Dick Grayson was beginning to question what he signed up for.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: First kiss
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #3
THE STORY: Catwoman (calling herself “Cat-Woman”) returns and dons a full-face mask for the first time. This early mask looked like a realistic cat-head in contrast to the cloth cowls she would later become known for. Batman clashes with Cat-Woman when a criminal group known as the Diamond Syndicate contract her to steal jewels. The crooks betray Cat-Woman, not wanting to share their cut with her, and it’s up to the Dark Knight to save her. Batman intends to arrest her along with the others, but Cat-Woman gets away by distracting Batman with a passionate kiss. Although Batman failed to bring her in, the embrace gave him a brief sense of euphoria. It was their first kiss, but wouldn’t be their last.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Selina Kyle (as Elva Barr) meets Bruce Wayne. First Batman and Catwoman engagement.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #15
THE STORY: Years before she was called Selina Kyle, Catwoman took on the alias Elva Barr and attempted to maintain a secret identity. Catwoman met Bruce Wayne in his civilian identity for the first time, when Elva Barr won a beauty contest that the playboy was judging. Captivated by Catwoman, and curious about her secret plans, Batman decided to keep a close eye on Elva Barr by dating her as Bruce Wayne. He hoped that her love for Bruce would convince Catwoman to give up her life of crime. After a short romantic montage, Bruce and Elva become engaged. That’s right readers; Tom King wasn’t the first person to have Batman and Catwoman get engaged! The move confuses Robin, and infuriates Bruce’s real girlfriend Linda Page, who he neglected to tell about the plan. Whoops! Elva soon finds out about Linda as well, leading to trouble. How does Batman get out of this peculiar polyamorous predicament? Read the rest of the story to find out!
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne enter a long-term committed relationship.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #308-326
THE STORY: During the Bronze Age of Comics, Selina Kyle attempted to turn her life around. She released from prison on parole and gave up her life as Catwoman. Seeking a new beginning, she approached Bruce Wayne about donating the remainder of her money to charity, but as usual, sparks began to fly. Selina and Bruce began a serious romance, but their happiness is soon tested when Catwoman is accused of being the burglar behind a series of thefts. Has Selina really returned to crime, and can Bruce trust her? This extended subplot took Bruce and Selina’s relationship to the next level. For the first time, the two of them were together for romantic relationship that lasted more than a single issue. In addition to altering Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, this story changed Selina’s direction forever. After this subplot, Selina never returned to her earlier days of malicious villainy. Stories afterwards began to portray her as a morally grey anti-hero.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Catwoman first displays knowledge of Batman’s secret identity.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #355
THE STORY: Catwoman returns to Gotham and is infuriated to find that Bruce Wayne has moved on with his life. Bruce is now back together with Vicki Vale, and Catwoman angrily retaliates. After attacking Bruce and Vicki, Catwoman is confronted by Batman, who is confused by her violent behavior. The Dark Knight is able to snap Catwoman out of the violent trance she’s in and help her begin to heal. This story is notable for Bat-Cat fans because it’s the first time Selina displays awareness of Batman’s true identity. The way she learned this is never stated, but the knowledge takes their relationship to a deeper level.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: The Earth-Two versions of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle get married.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘The Brave and the Bold’ #197
THE STORY: Set on Earth-Two of DC’s Multiverse (which features characters from DC’s Golden Age that have aged as time progressed), Bruce Wayne faces a midlife crisis after attending the wedding of an ex-girlfriend. His fear of being alone is soon put to the test when Scarecrow causes Batman to believe all his allies have disappeared. Batman turns to the only person left he can trust – Catwoman. The duo team-up to take down Scarecrow, and Catwoman proves herself to be Batman’s emotional anchor, as she talks him through his fears and insecurities. After a time-skip, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle get married, allowing their Earth-Two counterparts to live happily ever after – for now! This issue not only established Batman and Catwoman’s marriage, but it set the stage for later stories featuring their daughter, the Huntress.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Catwoman and Batman enter into a crime-fighting partnership and enjoy a date.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (1940) #392
THE STORY: Who needs Robin when you have Catwoman? The Dark Knight and Feline Fatale try to enjoy a quiet date night, but they keep coming across crimes that require their attention. This amusing date night issue featured a fun ‘Lady and the Tramp’ homage as Batman and Catwoman attempted to quietly dine on a reserved table in the back alley of an Italian restaurant. During the mid-1980’s, Batman and Catwoman become partners in crime-fighting, and partners in love, and this issue was the gold standard of that era. A bonus, this comic contains a funny subplot where Harvey Bullock clumsily attempts to convince Commissioner Gordon that Catwoman doesn’t deserve a pardon.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Catwoman forgets Batman’s secret identity and returns to crime.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Detective Comics’ (1937) #569-570
THE STORY: Batman and Catwoman’s on-again off-again relationship is interrupted by the Joker, when he kidnaps Selina. The Clown Prince of Crime puts Catwoman in a mind control device, hoping she’ll reveal Batman’s secret identity. Something goes horribly wrong, and Selina’s brain is scrambled. As a result, Catwoman loses all memory of her partnership with the Dark Knight, and any knowledge of his secret identity. This development breaks Batman’s heart, and puts him at odds with Catwoman, who has returned to a life of crime. After the events of ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths,’ this story was used to bring Catwoman back to her roots, when she was a burglar who didn’t know Batman’s true identity. Although these issues reversed their relationship, it honored their history as Batman’s emotional turmoil leap from the page of the comic, and into the reader’s hearts.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: A revamped version of Batman and Catwoman meet for the first time.
WHERE TO READ IT:‘Batman’ (1940) #404-407
THE STORY: Although ‘Year One’ is mostly known as an origin story for Batman and Jim Gordon, it’s also notable for giving Selina and Bruce a new beginning. Before he became Batman, a rookie Bruce Wayne first encountered Selina Kyle one night when he tried to fight crime in a plainclothes disguise. At the time, Selina was a street hustler and she immediately leapt into action once she saw Bruce strike her friend Holly. The two strangers began to spar on the streets, each impressed by the other’s skills. Technically this makes Catwoman the first foe Batman ever fought. As ‘Year One’ progresses, readers see how Batman’s emergence inspired Selina to make changes in her own life and become Catwoman. After reading ‘Year One,’ make sure you check out Tom King’s ‘Batman’ (2016) #50 to see what Selina and Holly really remember about that night.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Batman and Catwoman have a passionate love affair. Batman unmasks to Catwoman.
WHERE TO READ IT:‘Batman’ (1940) #608-619
THE STORY: Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Batman magnum opus is a 12-part saga where the Dark Knight is targeted by a mysterious bandaged foe known as Hush. As Batman attempts to unravel the conspiracy, he finds himself drawn to Catwoman, who has also been caught in Hush’s crosshairs. Batman decides to throw caution to the wind and begins a romance with Catwoman that lasts throughout the storyline. For years, Batman has used his head to tell him that he can’t be with Catwoman because she’s on the wrong side of law. Now the Dark Knight is giving in to his heart. Batman even decides to reveal his secret identity to Catwoman, but is everything what it seems? With Hush pulling the strings on everything, is it possible that he’s somehow brought Batman and Catwoman together for his own purposes? This story is a major turning point in Batman and Catwoman’s modern relationship, as the two make a serious attempt at romance. An animated version of ‘Batman: Hush’ will be premiering right here on DC Universe on August 13th, which makes it a perfect time to read this classic story.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Tom King’s Batman and Catwoman saga reaches a turning point as the couple gives into their passions for one night.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (2016) #14-15
THE STORY: Tom King’s Batman and Catwoman saga reaches an emotional high note in this 2-part story. Batman had borrowed Catwoman from prison to help him retake Santa Prisca from Bane, and he’s now tasked with returning her. Catwoman convinces the Dark Knight to put their ideological tug of war on hold for one night, and just enjoy each other’s company. The Dark Knight temporarily pauses his mission to return Catwoman to prison and gives into his passions. Batman lets his guard down and allows himself to emotionally vulnerable to Catwoman in a tender tale. As the story progresses, readers learn that Selina is serving her sentence because she took the blame for a series of murders her friend Holly Robinson had committed. Batman struggles to unravel the truth, hoping that his lady love can go free. But like Batman, Catwoman is steadfastly loyal, and won’t do anything to endanger Holly, even if it means giving up her one chance at happiness. When the night is over, Batman and Catwoman are forced to be at odds again, but for one night they were able to put their conflict on hold and enjoy their mutual love for each other. This two-parter also introduces one of Batman and Catwoman’s greatest conflicts – the boat or street debate. Batman is convinced that his first meeting with Selina was an encounter on a yacht, while Selina remembers meeting Bruce for the first time when she defended her friend Holly against him on the streets. If you’ve read the stories on this list, you would know both are technically true.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Batman and Catwoman grow old together in this tale set in a possible future.
WHERE TO READ IT: ‘Batman’ (2016) Annual #2
THE STORY: If Tom King’s run can be considered a love letter to Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, then this annual would be considered the final sonnet. The story begins in the past, as readers see Batman and Catwoman fight the romantic tension they’re feeling in one of their earliest encounters. The story then jumps ahead to the future, where an elderly Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have spent many happy years as a married couple. Longtime readers will be amused to see that they’re still arguing over the great boat/street debate. After years of conquering powerful foes, Bruce Wayne finds his aged body helpless against a deadly illness, forcing Selina to come to terms with saying goodbye. This comic is a must-read for Bat-Cat shippers everywhere, as it shares the story of their relationship from their first kiss, to their last. It’s possible that Batman and Catwoman’s story will never end, but if it does, this can be considered a fitting final word on their enduring love.