Friday, 23 September 2011

Catwoman #1 review

Catwoman flees her apartment when bruisers come calling, looking for something she stole from them. The flat destroyed, Selina seeks help from Lola, her fence and intel source, who sets her up with a gig at a Russian mafia party. There Selina spots a man from her past, someone who killed a woman in front of her. She surprises him in the mens' room, distracts him with the offer of sex, and mutilates him. Maybe kills him. Later, at her high-class squat, Batman comes calling to check on her welfare. Which means have sex.

Well there you go. If Catwoman #1 is setting the tone, the series is going to be sex and violence a go-go. Writer Judd Winick does a good job of introducing the new Selina, we quickly get a handle on what her priorities are in life ('They won't find anything except bras, books, wine and cat food'). His Selina talks tough, but the vulnerability at the edges - for example, not admitting to Lola that she won't stay with her because she doesn't wish to endanger her - is apparent.

The softer side is captured very well by artist Guillem March, particularly in a portrait of Selina watching her apartment burn. And his Catwoman in motion is a joy to see. I'm not keen on the massive emphasis given to her chest (Gotham City is famed for its dirigibles) but I don't doubt that the proportions are in Winick's art directions - heaven knows, there are enough narrative references to bras. The opening panel is a focus on Selina's breasts. And the title isn't even pretending the book's not hoping to attract fans of good girl art: '... and most of the costumes stay on'.

It's all a bit adolescent, but teenage boys deserve comics too. I'm sure the sight of Catwoman and Batman having costumed nookie for three pages will fuel plenty of fantasies, and maybe spark a few subscriptions. Me, I like the Bat/Cat relationship played a little more subtly, and I don't like the presentation of Batman as a man too broken to admit that he wants sex - here, he comes across as more victim than partner.

Plus, a couple of the pages could have been devoted to those adorable kitties Selina terrifies with her lifestyle (click to enlarge).
Selina undercover was a tad jarring, with the tones of her wig and pasty make-up reminding me of Batwoman Kate Kane (this might be the moment, though, to mention that colourist Tomeu Morey does a sterling job throughout). The party scene was also interesting for the inclusion of a Joker-themed gangster ... it seems that the chap I was wondering about in Static #1 wasn't the Crown Prince of Crime, but one of a number of criminal fashion victims across the DCU (the Mysterious Hooded Woman is also present, but she's a bit boring, truth be told).

So, everything old is new again in the New 52. Catwoman doesn't know Batman's secret identity. She doesn't have a child. Or cash reserves. Or the ability to plan her own jobs. Or much in the way of morals.

Before this month, Catwoman was a thief, but she was also a heroine of sorts. Certainly she didn't harm innocents, as she does in this issue when she chloroforms a bartender to take over her role for the night. And  the speed with which she loses control, savaging the gangster, is disturbing.

This woman, I don't know her. And that's fair enough. Catwoman is at an earlier stage in her life, she hasn't yet learned that playing solely on the dark side of the road doesn't make for a happy cat. Yes, risk makes for an interesting life, as she tells us - as we're shown - here. But helping people while taking risks, not lowering yourself to the level of other criminals, is better.

And when Selina learns that lesson, I'll be back. 

26 comments:

  1. "Gotham City is famed for its dirigibles"

    and being a profitable market for chiropractors.

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  2. What a disgraceful comic! All it was was boobs, bums and oh yes, more boobs. Never been a fan of Winnicks work at the best of times,[ Im waiting for the requisite gay character to turn up any minute, to remind us all how politicaly-correct he is as a writer] but this effort was abysmal. Selina seemed to be a total maniac slut here...why? Why ruin a cool anti-hero just for the sake of [no pun] titilation? And was she really doing what I think she was doing to Batman?Just no need for it at all. Nor the implications that she and Bats are victims which is supposed to excuse their behaviour.
    I expected more; I expected better, even from a writer I dislike. This makes Jim Balents over-sexy run on Catwoman from 93 look sedate by comparison.
    The worst book of the relaunch.

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  3. Bit too porny for my tastes. If I want porn, I can get it for free from the Internet. I don't have to waste my money on a comic.

    Good article about why Catwoman and Starfire aren't great portrayals of womanhood in the New DC 52:
    http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/

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  4. First of all hats off - you've got 100 times more readers on your blog than I'll ever get due to your writing talents and fair minded approach...

    However!! Sometimes you just have to call a turd a turd!!!

    I can't help thinking you've ducked out of your reviewing responsibilities by concluding with a paragraph that suggests the problems with this comic are down to the protagonist rather than the writer. That it's Catwoman's fault and she'll 'grow up' one day.

    The fault lies with Judd Winick for pooping this one out! Flaming Nora!! That final page takes some beating!!

    That final sequence seems to (worringly) suggest what the 'new 52' is really about - appealing to the tastes of 14 year olds. They seem to be pitching it to the 'summer blockbuster' market (fair enough) but with added luridity!

    I don't think this queasy mix of superheroes and 18 certificate material works particularly well. It fails the adult audience which makes up most of the buyers and the younger crowd they want to attract get this in full moving flesh for free online.

    And I was quite surprised by the panel you picked to showcase her supporting cast of kittens. The most prominent thing is big arse - hot the terror stricken cats-in-peril.

    I didn't buy Jim Balent's Catwoman due to the space-hopper boobs and this takes it one step further. I really do think we're entering a new era which is going to both alienate long time readers and fail to attract the new audience they're so clearly desperately aiming for.

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  5. One thing struck me about all the comics coming out this week [and no, it wasnt Selina's tits, though going by this issue I wouldnt be surprised]...it was all the female heroes. WW, Supergirl, Birds of Prey and now Twatwoman. Now we know why this was left till last.

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  6. You're not wrong, Gene, some of those back contortions ... you'd have to be Starfire to manage them.

    Karl, I think Lola may be the 'requisite gay character' (I'm still waiting for such to show up in Power Girl and Justice League: Generation Lost ... oh, hang on).

    It's weird that DC doesn't seem to worry that a scene like this may bring a spate of shocked stories in the newspapers - surely plenty of parents would be up in arms if they knew Batman was shagging criminals in such an upfront manner.

    And-Ru, all your training and you use all these extra exclams!!!!!

    We all know Selina's fictional, you can take it as read that when I'm talking about her behaviour, I'm blaming Winick. It's just reviewer talk. And speaking of which, I don't think I HAVE a reviewer's responsibility ... no one elected me, this is jus a hobby. If anyone notices me being daft/objectionable, I hope they'll jump in with a nice rejoinder.

    As for the cat panel, it illustrates my point, surely? Next time I shall be sure to crop out any distracting bottoms!

    And we still have Voodoo to come next week, Karl. Pass.

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  7. Sufferin' Sappho!

    Crikey blimey. But at the same time you're saying "it's reviewer talk" you're saying you have no responsibility as a reviewer and it's just a hobby.

    But you're reviewing! So there has to be some balance!

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  8. I never say wasn't a reviewer, I just don't agree I have a responsibility to take a particular position.

    Right, I'm coming over to Bottle City of Kanga to be pixie-ish ...

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  9. I love the line: "It's all a bit adolescent, but teenage boys deserve comics too."

    Not only because it's true, but also because it's a bit sad all the same.

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  10. This one has given me a dilemma because I liked the characterisation of Selina (she's already showing more depth than a lot of the relaunched characters) but the drawing was awfully gratuitous.

    But not totally gratuitous: look at Lola's face and body. She's a normal woman. You would expect them to go to town on an "ex-showgirl" character, but they made her normal.

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  11. Wait.. Catwoman is shown as having DEPTH? Where? When she's running from her house being firebombed for the SECOND TIME and not caring at all? Or when she's hanging out with her fence/friend Lola and talking about a new place to go? Or when she's randomly beating up some guy in a bathroom while in her bra again? Or when she's screwing Batman? Like what shows DEPTH? She seems pretty.. bland and shallow to me. She's supposedly impulsive and that's why she does everything she does, but she's only impulsive when she's showing off her body.. the other time, her motivations make no sense at all. She doesn't seem to be developed at all, she's just a disaster.

    She seems.. dumb to be honest. She's not the smart, sexy Catwoman we've seen before. Instead, she's just.. all over the place. She has SOME planning skills apparently, but they're sadly under-developed, but she's apparently been doing this long enough to have a rather nifty costume (not a home made one) and to have gotten a NAME for herself and she's had several meet ups with Batman, but.. she's just starting out at the same time? And she's so stupid that various people can find and blow up her apartment with EASE, Batman KNOWS about her apartment being blown up, and she still thinks Bruce doesn't know who she is? Wow.. That's crazy.

    As for Lola, she was drawn like a "normal" woman, but her face looked VERY masculine.. like just because she is a full figured woman that she has to look manish like she's a really BAD Drag Queen. It was almost as if they have to make her COMPLETELY unattractive because she doesn't have the size 0 body like Selina with HUGE melon jugs.

    It's sad that Catwoman's comic has reverted to nothing more than T&A. If we WANTED more Tarot comics, there would be more.. I'm not a fan of softcore porn and this? This is just disgusting. I don't care what anybody else says.. Selina's boobs in my face a bazillion times in an issue (I was able to thankfully ignore her butt shots) is a HUGE turn off for me as a gay reader and then to take away ALL her personality and all her DEPTH to make her a shallow porn star.. it makes me sad. I WANT a good Catwoman comic.. not this GARBAGE.

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  12. man, can you change your background colour ?
    thsi blue is killing my eyes !

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  13. Heh, Shame on me! I enjoyed this in a ridiculous kind of way. Reminded me of All Star Batman and Robin. Stupid, OTT and a good laugh!

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  14. Martin, while we were completely on the same page when it came to "Wonder Woman #1" I have to disagree with you concerning "Catwoman #1."

    I'm not even going to touch the "cheesecake" factor, since I think far too has been made of it. I think the discussion about Selina in her bra, or the last scene, or the rest of it has just been taking away from actual discussion of the rest of the story.

    What I really liked about what Winick did here is that he managed to work a lot of different elements into one issue, and to introduce us to many different facets of Selina's character.

    Right off the bat, we get a view of how cool and calm Selina is under pressure, we get Selina as action heroine. People blowing up her place and shooting at her? No problem.

    Next, Winick introduces a supporting character who will probably show up often in the future. They already have a relationship, and Selina gets not only a place to stay (for a while), but a little job, too.

    The club scene was undercover Selina, showing that she's more than action Selina, or cat-thief Selina. She's also a detective. And, when the situation calls for it, Selina can be very violent. This guys' a sleezeball, and Selina's not going to let him off easy -- at all.

    Finally, yes, the "infamous" sex scene happens. What I got from it was that she's attracted to Batman, interested in him, and she doesn't mind having a good time without lots of (if any) strings attached.

    To me, this issue painted Selina as a very strong character, multi-faceted, and set up a number of possible story elements.

    Plus, March's art was beautiful for the most part throughout.

    I don't know what else I could have wanted from the issue, really. This delivered it all, AFAIC.

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  15. @Jan Arrah

    "Or when she's randomly beating up some guy in a bathroom while in her bra again?"

    She wasn't randomly beating up some guy. She was taking revenge on someone who was a murderer, who had brutally killed someone right in front of her.

    It wasn't random at all.

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  16. In a way, Jeff, it feels as if DC believes we've all gone down a few IQ points.

    Put the dilemma away, David, you enjoyed the book, buy more. Nowt wrong with that.

    Thanks for the points Jan. One thing though, I wouldn't say Lola looked mannish, just that she doesn't look doll-faced. I've seen as many drag queens who look like Selina.

    It'll be interesting to see if DC tweaks this comic after the huge backlash. It's weird to think that after the universally praised portrayal of Selina by the likes of Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker, they'd revert to the tits and ass Catwoman.

    Anonymous, hope the eyes have stopped hurting. I've been trying to work out how to tweak the template to white for awhile. Until then, maybe you could cut and paste the text into an email or something!

    I've never tried ASB&R, Autoganzfeld - a big and stupid read?

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  17. Cheers for the input, Hal. The only thing I'd seriously disagree with there is the idea that we saw Selina as a detective. I'd say we saw Selina in a wig.

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  18. Martin, a couple of points:

    "It'll be interesting to see if DC tweaks this comic after the huge backlash. It's weird to think that after the universally praised portrayal of Selina by the likes of Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker, they'd revert to the tits and ass Catwoman. "

    Hmm, while I'm a HUGE fan of those runs, the fact is that this iteration of Catwoman doesn't seem particularly different to me, yet. We're one issue in. That's it.

    "Cheers for the input, Hal. The only thing I'd seriously disagree with there is the idea that we saw Selina as a detective. I'd say we saw Selina in a wig."

    I'd have to disagree. Selina goes undercover into a situation with people she's obviously familiar with. She listens, and eventually finds out something of value, something she can use (how, we don't know yet). So, I'd say she did some detecting there.

    However, I do agree that it wasn't a lot of detecting. But it was only one sequence of a four-sequence story, so not a lot of pages could be devoted to it.

    Anyhow, just differing opinions. Thanks for the review.

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  19. Jan Arrah: "Like what shows DEPTH? She seems pretty.. bland and shallow to me."

    Fair enough. I confess that my only previous exposure to Catwoman is Julie Newmar, and this version is like a Booker-prize-winning character in comparison.

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  20. Martin: "Put the dilemma away, David, you enjoyed the book, buy more. Nowt wrong with that."

    Thanks :) I enjoyed the book, but with 52 titles to winnow down for next month it has to be something more than just enjoyable. I don't buy comics for soft porn (there are plenty of better places to get that!), so it comes down to whether there is enough else in the book to bring me back. That's still a "maybe" from me. It's interesting how other people's reviews can change my perceptions, though!


    "I wouldn't say Lola looked mannish, just that she doesn't look doll-faced. I've seen as many drag queens who look like Selina."

    I actually thought Lola looked like a woman here at work, who I suspect would be desperately unhappy to be thought of as mannish!


    Isn't it interesting that this comic has generated more comments that any other review this month? I'm sure DC are banking on that. They're not as dumb as they look. (I think.)

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  21. Martin - I do agree on some of the books DC seems to think 'we've all gone down a few IQ points.'

    Maybe this was why they split things into sections on the free guide??

    Like, if you're over 20 you might like the 'dark' section? Coz everything else is going to be boobs, boobs, boobs from here on in?

    Crikey.

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  22. Well, I think teenage girls deserve comics, too.

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  23. If you want teenage girls to think you have to behave like a slut to be taken seriously, then this comic, and Starfire's appearance elsewhere is right up your street.
    Personally, I have more class than to think this Catwoman can be held up as any kind of role model; teenage girls certainly do NOT deserve this!

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  24. Karl, I'm pretty sure that's Carol's point. I wrote: 'It's all a bit adolescent, but teenage boys deserve comics too.' She's bemoaning the fact that there's bugger all in the new 52 in the way of heroines young girls may aspire to be.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Carol!

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  25. uuummm....I didnt take her point that way. For me, a more appropriate role model for teenage girls was Steph Brown as Batgirl, not the sex objects Catwoman and Starfire seem to be written/drawn as.
    I thought this reboot of DC was going to present a more politically correct version of heroines; ie more covered up and not so sexual. Seems to be the opposite for the most part[ and Im not even a fan of political correctness].

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  26. Karl, you've been around long enough, surely, to know the new Catwoman and Kory would not be Carol's idea of heroines to be enjoyed by young girls. If not, believe me.

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