Batman and Zatanna's romantic past explored in Batman Urban Legends #11

Batman: Urban Legends #11 excerpt
Batman: Urban Legends #11 excerpt (Image credit: DC)

Batman and Zatanna have a long and complicated personal history together, but as of the newest issue of Batman: Urban Legends, their relationship now has more of a romantic underpinning than previously revealed in comic books. 

Spoilers ahead for Batman: Urban Legends #11

image from Batman: Urban Legends #11 (Image credit: DC)

Of course, the nature of comic books allows for history to be rewritten and reshaped (we call them retcons) all the time, but in the first of writer Vita Ayala and artist Nikola Čižmešija's six-part story 'Bound to Our Wills' in January 11's Batman: Urban Legends #11, not only is Batman and Zatanna's relationship rebranded as having a romantic past rather than just a long-time flirtation, it also adds the twist that the pair have been secretly meeting for many years to contain a mystical problem they created during an idyllic romantic day together in their youth.

In a story interspersing flashback with the present day, we learn that Bruce and Zatanna frolicked (no, really) together in the woods one day, perhaps as young as teens. The scenes make it clear Bruce is very smitten with Zatanna and despite either already being or being on his way to becoming DC's foremost obsessed urban vigilante, he's put aside his thirst for vengeance for one day at least to be happy.

image from Batman: Urban Legends #11 (Image credit: DC)

Batman: Urban Legends #11 page (Image credit: DC)

The pair perform some sort of minor magic ritual during their date, seemingly to allow them to communicate with each other telepathically (and flirt while doing so), but the spell unwittingly cracks open a very menacing "doorway" that the duo only barely manage to close.

The present-day portion of the story (which if you squint could be interpreted as a parable about the lifelong consequences of an expression of youthful romantic flirtation) shows that Batman and Zatanna must return to the same spot in the woods every few years to perform a ritual to keep the doorway closed, which is explained puts a strain on their relationship, so much so that Superman has noticed their periodic trips with one another and the palpable tension between them afterward.

But then he has super-senses.

Batman: Urban Legends #11 page (Image credit: DC)

During their present-day return to the spot (which has slowly turned into a wasteland of sorts), while en route they circle around talking out their issues and about ending their magical problem once and for all, but an experimental new version of their ritual seemingly designed to seal the doorway permanently winds up making things worse, and a villainous character (who kind of looks like a twisted Leslie Thompkins) that appears in a Gotham City alleyway in the story's opening pages makes the scene.

Whoever the character is and whatever Batman and Zatanna did are seemingly big deals in the world of magic, as the event captures the attention of several DC's mystical characters, including Doctor Fate and Constantine, so as far the superhero-supernatural portion of 'Bound to Our Wills' that part of the story is just getting started. 

Batman: Urban Legends #11 excerpt (Image credit: DC)

As to whether the story delves deeper into Bruce and Zatanna's personal history and romantic relationship, that remains to be seen.

Batman and Zatanna's relationship has been hinted at and explored in other stories over the years, most notably in Batman: The Animated series that established that Batman was trained in escapism by Zatanna's father, Zatara, and during this period Bruce and Zatanna had a romantic relationship

In comic books, James Tynion IV's Detective Comics run also established that Batman trained under Zatanna's father, Zatara, and that Batman and Zatanna teamed up to attempt to use a magical artifact in their youth, with Zatara preventing them from using it and causing a magical disaster.

More recently, in Justice League #60's Justice League Dark backup story, Batman reveals that his bonds with Zatanna go back even further than their own youth, with Zatanna having been best friends with Bruce Wayne's dad Thomas Wayne - and even introducing him to Martha Wayne. 

Part two 'Bound to Our Wills' will be published in February 8's Batman Urban Legends #12.

If their spell didn't go sideways, maybe Batman and Zatanna would be among the most prominent superhero couples of all time.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.