Warning: Spoilers for Batman/Catwoman #3!
Throughout his lifetime, Batman has had two significant lovers, and the first ever clash between these femme fatales will now force the Dark Knight to make a choice between them. Tom King and Clay Mann’s Batman/Catwoman has already introduced plenty of exciting new story elements – the least of which are the shocking death of an old-man Joker and the introduction of the future Batwoman – but possibly the most drama-breeding element of all is the return of Andrea Beaumont, aka the Phantasm.
The Phantasm was first introduced in 1993’s animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which was praised by both critics and fans. Surprisingly enough, however, Batman/Catwoman is the first series to finally introduce that movie’s fan-favorite character and plotline into DC’s primary comic book universe. Given that Bruce Wayne was once engaged to Andrea, long before her mad-streak of murderous vigilante vengeance officially tore them apart, it’s safe to say some drama between Batman’s current lover Catwoman and an unexpectedly returned Phantasm has started to bubble. This simmering tension reaches an explosive peak when the Phantasm arrives at Bruce Wayne’s home to kill a sleeping Selina Kyle in issue three of the maxi-series.
After spending years in hiding, Andrea first resurfaced in Gotham City following her son’s death. All signs point to the Joker as the one responsible for this senseless murder, so Andrea begins exacting her vengeance as the Phantasm, assassinating an array of the Joker’s associates as she closes in on the Clown Prince of Crime. The Phantasm’s expertise as an incredibly stealthy assassin is on full display when she arrives to off Selina. Lucky for Selina, her cat’s hiss at the sight of Andrea’s menacing costume awakens her just in time, leading to a ferocious battle between the two bat-lovers that ends in a stalemate after their fall from a third story window renders them both unconscious.
Eventually, Bruce will arrive home to find the two most significant loves of his life passed out and he’ll have to make a choice. Selina won’t exactly be forgiving following Bruce’s former lover attempting to assassinate her, making this a problem even the world’s greatest detective will have trouble solving. Even more intriguing is the question of exactly why Andrea wanted to assassinate Selina in the first place. Did she arrive at Wayne Manor with the intention of hurting Bruce by killing his current lover as retribution for his protecting the Joker during her murder spree? Or does this connect with the storyline of the past that’s also currently unfolding, wherein Catwoman is working with the Joker behind Batman’s back? If so, then Andrea will likely bring Bruce up to date on the history of lies the Cat’s been feeding him. In which case, Bruce will have a hard time willfully lending his protection to Selina.
The involvement of both Catwoman and the Phantasm in the same storyline has been a compelling treat thus far, and the drama’s only just ramping up. It’s perplexing to consider how many years went by before Andrea was brought into the comics’ lore to further expand upon her rich characterization. Her propensity for vigilante justice resembles Batman’s endless pursuit in so many ways, yet they tragically differ when it comes to killing their enemies. Selina, on the other hand, shares Bruce’s fundamental need to escape into a costumed second life; only her guiding moral compass differs greatly from the Bat’s. Despite the fact that associating with both these women contradicts the very principles he’s built upon, Batman – like all of us – ultimately can’t control who he falls in love with.