The current Batman arc “Superfriends” moves forward this week as Batman encounters Wonder Woman for the first time since becoming engaged to Catwoman. Based on the first installment in which Batman went on a double date with Superman, what comes next is bound to be a lot of fun and dig into what makes these characters work as a duo.
It also raises the question of what Batman and Wonder Woman’s standing is in the Rebirth status quo. They’ve had almost no interactions outside of the pages of Justice League, and some key elements of their history remain up in the air. What elements of their relationship will King emphasize, and which will be pushed to the wayside?
We decided to take a look at the history of this dynamic duo for the best examples of Batman and Wonder Woman team-ups. In spite of a rabid fan base, there are surprisingly few stories that focus primarily on this pair alone. Most of their shared stories take place within the expanded team of the Justice League, and it’s only recently in the pages of Joe Kelly’s JLA and in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon that their specific relationship was emphasized. However, what is there is truly great and all five of these stories come highly recommended as the best examples. We hope that the newest issues of King’s Batman expands this canon a bit further.
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, Original Graphic Novel
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by J.G. Jones
Inks by Wade von Grawbadger
Colors by Dave Stewart
This is the indisputable gold standard of Batman and Wonder Woman stories. Building on Rucka’s original Wonder Woman run, this story was produced as an OGN, meant to highlight his critically-acclaimed take on Wonder Woman alongside the lush art of J.G. Jones. The result was a story that would define both characters, apart and together.
“The Hiketeia” refers to an ancient tradition of hospitality that requires Wonder Woman to care for a woman who has recently committed a crime and is fleeing the Batman. The two legends have a war of words (and fists) over the fate of the criminal that delves into their unique motives and appeal. It is a story that transcends the showdown between two classic heroes and becomes a tale about crime, mercy, forgiveness, and empathy. It’s not only the best Batman and Wonder Woman story, but one of the best graphic novels produced by DC Comics. If you only read one comic from this list, make it this one.
Justice League Unlimited, Season 1, Episode 3
Written by Henry Gilroy
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited first popularized the notion of a romance between Batman and Wonder Woman. While that idea hasn’t become a key part of comics, it was absolutely charming within the cartoon. Nowhere was their relationship better defined than in the episode “Kid Stuff” where they along with three other heroes are shrunk to children with their powers intact.
When in the form of children all of the heroes behave in character, but act with less maturity of reservation. The heroes are more pure, innocent versions of themselves, which makes the crush between Batman and Wonder Woman really shine. They are both bossy as children and Batman remains reserved, while Wonder Woman is far more outgoing. She challenges Batman and brings out the best in him, even as he attempts to revert to being a loner. “Kid Stuff” is a top-notch example of why Justice League Unlimited is one of the best DC cartoons ever produced, and Batman and Wonder Woman are the stars of the episode.
JLA: A League of One
JLA: A League of One, Original Graphic Novel
Created by Christopher Moeller
This OGN focuses much more on Wonder Woman telling the story of how she incapacitates the entire Justice League so she can face a dragon prophesied to slay the team alone. While there are interactions between Wonder Woman and almost every one of her teammates, it’s the showdown with Batman that stands out.
Batman is the League member who is able to recognize what is happening and attempts to stop Wonder Woman from going alone. It shows how the pair engage both as the strategists of the group and the member’s most capable of guile. They are self-sacrificing and unwilling to let others suffer in their stead. That makes their showdown here tragic and their friendship inevitable.
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Chris Cross
Inks by Tom Nguyen
Colors by Chris Sotomayor
Hints of a romance between Batman and Wonder Woman did emerge in the comics during “The Obsidian Age” story arc of JLA when the two kissed in the midst of battle. Writer Joe Kelly did not follow that particular thread up for almost a year until JLA #90 when Wonder Woman examined what their future together might be like.
The issue plays out a variety of possibilities, like an anthology of what if tales, most ending with some form of tragic twist. Ultimately the pair decide that there is too much risk in romance, especially with the possibility of losing their friendship. The issue stands alone well, providing many intriguing ideas on what could have been and emphasizing the strength Batman and Wonder Woman lend one another as friends.
And Then There Were Three...
Wonder Woman Annual (vol. 5) #1
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott
Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
This story from the Rebirth era is notable for establishing both Superman and Batman’s relationships with Wonder Woman. It’s the tale of their first encounter when Wonder Woman first appears publicly. The entire story emphasizes character and dialogue above all else, and it makes for a quick, charming read.
It’s clear that Rucka has not lost any of his interest in Batman and Wonder Woman in the 15 years since he wrote “The Hiketeia.” Wonder Woman still shines a light on Batman while Batman recognizes the incredible strength and resolve within Wonder Woman. It’s clear even from their initial first encounter that they’re a pair of great individuals who are even greater together. Comics fans would be lucky to see more stories like this down the road.