As Batman/Catwoman reveals a possible future for Gotham City, an Earth-2 Dynamic Duo has been reimagined for the better.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman/Catwoman #3, by Tom King, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
With Batman/Catwoman‘s story unfolding across three different timelines in Gotham City, the DC Black Label maxi-series has shown a possible future where Batman and Catwoman’s daughter Helena Wayne has inherited the mantle of the Dark Knight from her father to keep Gotham safe after his death. And while Helena and her mother have drifted apart, especially with Selina Kyle having recently employed lethal force against a familiar foe, this new generation’s Caped Crusader isn’t alone in her crime-fighting crusade. And in addition to reintroducing Helena to modern readers, Batman/Catwoman has improved one superhero partnership from Earth-2 for the better by reimaging Helena’s dynamic with the original Boy Wonder Dick Grayson.
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In this alternate future, Grayson has become the latest commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, complete with his own Bat-Signal to summon Helena when he needs her help on the job. While Grayson was always significantly younger than her father, the former Nightwing takes on a more paternal role for Helena as the two crimefighters contemplate the implications of the Joker’s murder. Wearing a trench coat just like his predecessor Jim Gordon had decades before, Dick is well-aware Helena has followed in her father’s footsteps to become the new Batwoman, tacitly approving of her embracing her superhero destiny as the two work together.
On Earth-2, prior to the reality-altering events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dick and Helena had a considerably different relationship and one that was much less age-appropriate. On this world, Dick never had a severe falling out with his mentor Bruce Wayne and, thus, never retired the Robin mantle to develop his own superhero identity. After college, Dick became a lawyer and eventually an American ambassador to South Africa before returning to Gotham as a member of the Justice Society of America upon Batman’s retirement while Helena Wayne developed her own superhero identity as the Huntress.
During their time working together, Dick developed romantic feelings for Huntress but, due to being over two decades older than her and having helping Bruce and Selina raise her, Dick wisely never acted on these feelings. Instead, the former Boy Wonder spent additional time outside of Gotham to process his feelings, unaware that Helena was secretly in love with him, though she similarly never acted on this owing to the age difference and the familial nature of their relationship. While Earth-2 hasn’t been explored in the DC Rebirth era, the reborn DC Multiverse in the crossover event Dark Nights: Death Metal, completely restoring all past histories, suggests some iteration of this Golden Age world has also been restored.
There is a passing reference towards Helena in this alternate future timeline that she is in a serious same-sex relationship and no hints that she and Dick are secretly harboring romantic feelings for one another. As a dynamic that has been reestablished as familial at best and professional at least, this is a welcome change to the relationship the two crimefighters shared on Earth-2.
While superheroes certainly have been known to lead complicated, convoluted romantic lives, one of the more questionable elements of the Golden Age DC Universe has been discarded while also helping Helena step further out of her father’s shadow to become her own superhero while updating the character for modern sensibilities. Just because Dick and Helena fight crime together, thankfully that doesn’t mean they have to become romantically involved, and it’s something that Batman/Catwoman underscores in a subtly beautiful way.
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