Cover of Cat-Tales: Strange BedfellowsStrange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows catches up with the DCU in removing Lex Luthor from the presidency, which Jeph Loeb accomplished in the Superman/Batman series. As always, the Cat-Tales version is less comicbooky, attributing the more fantastic elements ("Lex buzzing Dupont Circle in a space suit that looks like a Tylenol capsule decked out for Mardi Gras, hopped up on venom and challenging Superman to a fist fight") to the fabrications of the Gotham Post.

The non-fantastic detail that Cat-Tales did take from the comic resolution was Talia al Ghul bankrupting LexCorp and Bruce Wayne buying the building. Cat-Tales specifies Talia's incompetence, creating a parallel to DC Comics mismanagement of their assets:

“Talia, you didn’t understand the first thing about your own product line or why it was successful. You poured massive sums into R and D, ‘reinventing’ products until nobody would buy them anymore. Then you poured more massive sums into marketing to convince your ex-customers that all your mistakes and bad decisions were really a great improvement. You can’t insist things into being what they’re not, Talia. It didn’t work with corporate buyers any better than it did with… with me. You never turned those sales around, despite all those ads and all those press releases. And you are never going to become dear to me by calling me Beloved. Can you understand that, Talia? Or is it too adult a concept for you?”

Her failure at Lex Corp leaves Talia very close to rock bottom with neither Luthor nor her father as a means of support, a point at which Selina says she must return to Ra's, find a new protector, or evolve. It is at this point we begin to see more depth to Talia, though all her objectionable qualities remain, we begin to see they are a product of her upbringing: superficially elevated as the child of Ra's al Ghul but diminished in all meaningful ways in world where women are chattel.

Evolution is a major theme of this tale, and the significant one from the relationship POV is Selina's. Bruce notices the ways she has adapted to life at the manor, outgrowing her near-paranoid obsession with her independence. It introduces the possibility of marriage, and reveals his own baggage on that subject. "Maybe to me, marriage will always mean dead in an alley."

The final significant evolution is in Batman's relationship with the Riddler, for he has now figured out the Dark Knight's identity under that mask. But just as Batman is really Bruce Wayne, human being, The Riddler is Edward Nigma, Selina's good friend. The relationship among all three will be in flux and a new source of dramatic tension for quite some time.

Like all Cat-Tales, Strange Bedfellows can be read online on the Cat-Tales website or mobile mirror, and can be downloaded as an ebook or pdf, which is sized for printing at Cafe Press. It is collected in Cat-Tales Book 3.