Batman’s connection with a fellow Justice League hero gives him a uniquely adult and bittersweet bond and is a terrific idea.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the story “Bound to Our Will” from Batman: Urban Legends #11, now on sale
Batman has had a number of romantic relationships over the years. Bruce Wayne has been romantically tied to heroes, villains, and civilians across the decades. But a notable throughline is that Bruce might never truly settle for happiness. DC just made it even worse by revealing he did find it once and has spent years not truly achieving it.
“Bound To Our Will” from Batman: Urban Legends #11 (by Vita Ayala, Nikola Cizmesija, Nick Filardi, and Steve Wands) confirmed the modern Batman and Zatanna’s past relationship. Combined with their history together over the years, it cements the latter as Batman’s most interesting ex, giving them a uniquely adult relationship in the Justice League.
“Bound to Our Will” focused on Batman and Zatanna. Specifically, it dug into the early days of their relationship, years before they became costumed heroes. As they shared a summer afternoon, Bruce couldn’t stop noting how beautiful Zatanna was as they spent time together. They even cast a spell together, briefly sharing a psionic connection. But the spell went out of control, suddenly creating a massive rift in reality just above the pair that they barely contained. Since then the pair have come together every year to work together and counter the rift when it reopens. Zatanna and Batman are eventually forced to come closer together and possibly shatter that bond between them in an attempt to finally put an end to the spell. However, this left the rift open to cause more chaos and made them the target of a mysterious threat.
Notably, the naturally suspicious and restrained Batman showed a unique side with Zatanna. He flirted with her playfully, and clearly regretted the pain he’s caused her. He smiled and chuckled when he was with her, and seemed to still genuinely have feelings for Zatanna. This isn’t the first time the Dark Knight has been attracted romantically to Zatanna. He had clear feelings for her in the Post-Crisis DC Universe, and the two flirted in the DC Animated Universe. But the pair never truly consummated their romance. It’s clear that Zatanna does what few others ever have; make Batman genuinely happy. He finds empathy with Catwoman and connection with Talia Al Ghul. But both of those romances have in part been defined by the question of if Batman could be truly happy with them.
With Zatanna, it’s not even a question, he’s clearly conscious of her feelings in a way he isn’t with anyone else. She makes him smile, and yet, the pair can never be together in the long run. Their places in the universe have driven them to different places in life. For Batman, it effectively renders one of his most potentially simple and happy relationships moot. For Zatanna, it prevents her from bringing the bright side out of a man she clearly cares for, something that has seemingly weighed on her. She noted to Batman during “Bound To Our Will” that she tried to reach out, and Batman didn’t “return her calls,” either through omission or exhaustion. It’s a painful, bittersweet connection.
It’s so obvious, even Superman could understand there’s a uniquely sad edge to Batman’s relationship with Zatanna. It’s an interesting wrinkle to both characters, giving them a genuinely adult and somber bond that nevertheless has made the leap across reboots and mediums. It’s also one of Batman’s most tragic connections to a fellow hero, which has been highlighted in “Bound To Our Will” — affecting the Caped Crusader in a way no other character ever really has. Zatanna isn’t defined by her place as Batman’s young love turned bittersweet friend, but it adds to her place in the overall universe in a unique way. The two are proof there could be a happy ending for each of them. But it’s one they never seem to truly grasp, a type of lesson that doesn’t just haunt them but other heroes too.
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