Batman’s secret alter ego just made a splashy return, as he and Catwoman have a memorable night out on the town.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the story “Perfect Matches” from DC: Love is a Battlefield #1 by Christos Gage, Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr & ALW’s Troy Peteri, on sale now. 

Batman has plenty of tools and tactics that he’s used in his war against the criminals of the world, but only one of them involves a cheesy mustache and a signature prop. The Matches Malone identity has been useful for the hero for years, and it just got its best chance to shine in recent memory.

While on a mission to track down multiple villains all at once in DC: Love Is a Battlefield, Batman busted out his infamous Matches Malone identity, and he uses it to accompany Catwoman to a supervillain wedding reception as her date.

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Batman and Catwoman have remained romantically linked, even if their wedding didn’t go through as they’d initially expected. To the world though, the pair haven’t been as bonded, allowing for the pair to hide their romance when necessary. One such occasion, the wedding of Maxie Zeus, proved the perfect opportunity to expose the hero to many of his greatest enemies at once, with Zeus throwing a lavish party atop a yacht to celebrate the occasion. But for this mission, Batman doesn’t show up in the traditional cape and cowl. Instead, he comes to the event in disguise as Matches Malone who quickly claims to be Catwoman’s date for the evening. Doing so allows him to get close enough to the villains to slip GPS trackers onto their costumes and equipment, allowing Batman to hunt them down later.

Matches Malone first appeared in Batman #242 by Dennis O’Neil, Irv Novick, and Dick Giordano, and served as an effective disguise that the Caped Crusader could use to infiltrate the criminal underworld. The identity has become infamous around Gotham, especially for how Matches always seems to barely escape capture and arrest by the skin of his teeth. Following Selina’s advice to “go big,” Batman seems to thoroughly enjoy his night out with Selina, leaning into the charming and roguish qualities that have defined his time as Matches. The pair share a dance in the middle of the evening, and Catwoman endears herself to many of the guests by letting loose.

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Catwoman Matches Malone

It’s only when Riddler realizes someone has been placing GPS trackers around the boat that the evening takes a turn. Catwoman claims she and Matches came to rob the yacht blind, setting up a massive brawl where “Matches” can fall overboard and return to the battle in costume as Batman. Although some of the villains escape capture, others aren’t as lucky and Batman can bring many of them to the authorities. Matches Malone has always been one of the most entertaining ways for Batman to fight against the criminal underworld, adding a stealthy and charming touch to his investigations. The idea that Matches could be how he openly dates the more criminally-aligned Catwoman is an engaging one, as it would allow Selina to further cement herself as an independent player than if she was married to Batman.

The date is also clearly an illuminating one for Batman, who speaks with Selina after the event and admits that it was a great chance to be with Selina in a freeing way. He even jokingly suggests that he could don the Matches outfit again in the future for nights on the town with Selina, potentially turning Matches Malone into Batman’s ultimate date night identity. It’s a perfect way for Batman to avoid unneeded scrutiny, keep some pressure off Catwoman, and even serve as an outlet that Batman has long needed. This could be the perfect way for Bruce and Selina to have a romance that isn’t defined by Batman, and let the two heroes have the closest thing they could ever likely get to normalcy.

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