WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman & the Outsiders #12, by Bryan Hill, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Clayton Cowles, available now.
One of the most notable things DC has done recently is finally push forward on the Batman and Catwoman romance. While Tom King didn’t pull the trigger on their marriage, we did have a resolution of sorts to the “will they-won’t they” aspect of the Bat-Cat getting together.
This, of course, comes in the form of Selina Kyle getting pregnant for Bruce Wayne. However, as intriguing as that relationship has been, Batman and the Outsiders #12 gives us a couple that has a much better romantic dynamic between Black Lightning and Katana.
Now, not to knock the Bat-Cat chemistry but it felt more style than substance, and way too dramatic. It lacked depth because it’s always been about “self.” Bruce wants Selina to fill that gaping dark hole in his life and to create a true concept of a family away from sidekicks fighting crime. While Selina wants Bruce to see if she can stay on the righteous path. And when they think distancing from each other makes sense, it’s because Bruce fears happiness, and Selina enjoys the thrill of crime way too much.
But while Jefferson Pierce and Katana don’t have all the poetic antics, it’s more nuanced the way they organically come to fall for each other. And then subsequently, opt not to pursue anything. Jefferson’s personal life has been in disarray, but he’s also interested in filling the gap in his heart. Katana literally carries the burden of her husband’s soul in her sword as well, and they find kindred spirits in each other as both know they can take care of each other. But while they connect and offer a shot at the happiness they’ve so desperately avoided, they don’t follow up on it simply because they think it’ll take away from the mission of nurturing the next generation.
It’s a different kind of intimate and personal abstinence, and quite relatable. There’s no agenda or self-serving here because, as much as they love each other, they don’t want to detract from seeking justice for the public. Watching Jefferson go through the motions, handle the grief of Ra’s al Ghul killing his colleagues, and then seeing Katana embracing moving on from her dead husband but masking that fear with a tough exterior and violence is very intriguing. They’re beasts towards their enemies but then when alone, they’re so vulnerable with each other and scared to accept the light, it’s heartbreaking. Yet totally understandable.
With charges like Cassandra Cain, Duke Thomas, and Sofia Ramos now under their care, they know they can’t be distracted from being den parents. Especially when Lady Shiva’s lurking as an ally they can’t trust and Ra’s wants the youths for himself. They prefer to tote around pain and death, and sacrifice a future so the kids can have proper mentors. A relationship would compromise them, and while they find solace in each other, they rebuke a chance together.
It’s a higher calling and not drawn out in a bunch of nighttime rooftop sequences. It’s powerful, wholesome stuff, needled way past a billionaire and a brat, and seeing two people who want to heal and have a cure in the form of each other afraid like this makes a better read. Katana prefers to be alone out of guilt as well, while Jefferson doesn’t want to get his heart broken and deal with her past marriage and skeletons in her closet. It’s ultimately not so straightforward, there are many layers that make these characters feel a lot more human.
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Batman and the Outsiders #12 has confirmed DC has a forbidden romance that's already way better than Batman and Catwoman's dramatic bond.