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I am not quite sure how to begin this review. I’ve been mulling it over for nearly two days now, and I’m no closer to knowing than I was to begin with.

To say that I had high hopes for the new Catwoman series isn't really accurate. I hoped it'd be great, much the same way one hopes it won't rain even though the sky is looking kinda cloudy and yuck. There's always the chance that the clouds will dissipate, the sun will pop out and you can go have that picnic you've been planning, but you bring your umbrella anyway, just in case.

So, with a hopeful heart and my trusty umbrella tucked under my arm, I took the plunge and picked up a digital copy of Catwoman #1 on Wednesday, since my local comic shop is, as of my latest move, an hour's drive away.

I should have invested in galoshes and a rowboat, because what I thought would just be a little rain turned out to be a flash flood.

It's so bad in fact, that I just...can't even process the idea of reviewing this alone. I need a coping mechanism to take my frustration out on.

...

Oh, Invisible Interjector, my old friend?

Yes?

I want to talk about all the reasons why the people defending Catwoman #1 are wrong, but I can’t do that without an idiot to argue with.

This feels like a trap.

That’s because it is.

Well…so long as you’re honest about it. I’m totally your guy! Gal. Figment of your imagination. Whatever.

Excellent! Do me a favor and embody all idiotic comic fans everywhere. And please be thorough.

Dhyuck, boobies.

Perfect.

Now, I could put these pages in context better, but they actually have absolutely nothing to do with the other sparse events of the story, which goes like so:

1.) Catwoman is nekkid and on the run from a bunch of thugs.

2.) Her lair blows up.

3.) She goes to see her fence, a woman named Lola, for a place to crash and a lead for a heist.

4.) Selina goes undercover at a Russian mob sexy party where she runs into Renald, a mysterious figure from her past whom she then beats the ever loving shit out of. Without a shirt on.

5.) The following scene occurs.

Seriously. That’s all the lead-up we get. The story’s events are so thrown together in such a slapdash manner that they’re only vaguely connected to each other. Who blew up her lair? We never find out. Why did they blow it up? Never find that out, either. How does she know Lola? Why doesn’t she have an emergency stash somewhere? Why is she eavesdropping on Russian mobsters rather than just robbing the nearest anything? Who’s Mysterious Past Renald (With Kung Fu Grip)? We don’t know.

This story is so incredibly shittily told that it’s not a story so much as a series of barely connected scenes sloppily strung together to give the book some semblance of an excuse to get to this point.








Please be advised that Invisible Interjector’s arguments mirror those I have heard over the past two days…I am not responsible for the damage done to your faith in humanity. IF I HAVE TO SUFFER, YOU HAVE TO SUFFER WITH ME.

Well, I liked it!

Okay, why?

It was violent and sexy and violently sexy!

Sexy? I think it was unnecessarily graphic.

You’re just being a prude.

I have hentai less graphic than that scene.

Oh. Well, I still liked it.

All right, I’m listening…

I just really love her take charge attitude!

Oh, you mean the sexual assault? You like the sexual assault? Well, bully for you.

Whaaat?

You know…the rape-y-ness.

I don’t see that at all.

Well, I can see how you might have missed it. I mean, the sequence of events is only as follows:

1.) Batman very firmly says, “No.”

2.) Catwoman immediately physically attacks him.

3.) He actively pushes her away.

4.) Her internal monologue reads as follows: “This isn’t the first time. Usually it’s because I want him. Tonight I think it’s because I need him. Every time…he protests. Then…gives in. And he seems…angry.”

Huh.

Before you dismiss that as not being a sexual assault, ask yourself:

If Catwoman and Batman’s genders were reversed, would you consider it sexual assault? If a man attacked me in the way Catwoman just attacked Batman, I certainly would. Of course, everyone knows that female on male rape is totally okay. It’s even got its own TV Tropes page, after all.

You’re taking this too seriously. It’s not sexual assault, it totally fits their established characterizations.

That argument is flimsy at best, since this comic completely disregards and discards their pre-existing characterizations in favor of the sex scene, which I‘ll get to in a minute. Maybe, if I stretch and give a lot of leeway, I can buy this as being like falling into bed with your ex, no matter how many times you tell yourself you won’t. But you know what? That doesn’t change the fact that there are very, very icky connotations.

But Catwoman is totally liberated! This scene is all about her wants and desires! She’s going after what she wants! This isn’t about him, it’s about her! You go girl!

No. It’s not. Let me tell you why the subtext doesn’t mesh with that theory in the least.

Everything about this scene is designed to titillate the straight male reader. Oh, sure, it’s from Catwoman’s perspective, and suuuure, she’s going after what she wants, good for her!

So why is the emphasis--in this narrative from her perspective, ostensibly about her wants and desires--on Catwoman’s figure? If this were really from Catwoman’s perspective and an accurate reflection of her sexually liberated wants and needs, the focus wouldn’t be on herself, it’d be on Batman. The imagery of her bare chest would be replaced with Batman’s.

Instead, we get what’s called a “POV” in the adult film industry: the view from where the male participant sits. Know what a POV is for? It’s so that the guy who’s watching the porno can more easily imagine himself having sex with the female star. Still think this scene is all about Catwoman’s pleasure and not the male reader’s?

Maybe someone just has a problem with a female character who’s sexually aggressive, empowered and not ashamed of indulging in her sexuality! YOU CAN‘T HANDLE HOW SEXUALLY OPEN CATWOMAN IS!

I love Julius Zimmerman. My favorite hentai is Slut Girl, with Bondage Fairies following up right behind. I have absolutely no problem with public displays of affection bordering on the positively graphic. I’ve engaged in sexual activity in more locations and in more ways than the average porn star. We’re talking blowjobs while speeding down the freeway at seventy five miles an hour, sex on pool tables, parking garages, parking lots, dark alleys, government libraries, public museums, dressing rooms, elevators, graveyards. Handcuffs, blindfolds, corsets, rope bondage, flogging, spanking, dominant, submissive, straight, bisexual, roleplay, costumes…the list goes on.

I am that girl your mother warned you about.

Would you care to re-examine your ‘Clearly you don’t like sexually open women’ argument?

You're slut shaming! You're slut shaming!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Maybe you should look it up.

Oh yeah? Well…well it still works! Since Catwoman was first introduced, she’s been trying to seduce Batman! How about them apples?!

You’re right. You’re absolutely right. Catwoman has tried to seduce Batman more times and in more ways than I can count. You know what makes those instances different than this one? He always shut her down. Always.

But it still shows she’s been going after him since the beginning! It totally fits their established dynamic for him to finally give in!

…are you stupid? How does “Batman doesn‘t give in for seventy years”=“Batman gives in over the course of ten minutes”?

Like all of the members of Batman’s rogues gallery, Catwoman represents an aspect of humanity that Bruce denies in the guise of Batman. The Joker? Humor. Scarecrow? Fear. Catwoman? Lust.

She’s a temptation. She, like all the other villains, is a test of his resolve. Watching them flirt, watching him deny and fight his attraction to her, that is what their interactions have always been about. Sexual tension is what makes them work. I hate to say that, because I do believe that happy couples can make for compelling fiction, but for these two characters? No. You can’t make Bruce/Selina work as a couple. They’re both too epically screwed up to be anything but on-again-off-again.

But Batman and Catwoman have slept together before! Sure, it’s never been this graphic, but it happened in the early eighties AND after Hush!

Hey, dopey, can you tell me what the early eighties and the post-Hush era had in common? What’s that? You can’t? Well, then, let me enlighten you.

Batman and Catwoman did not sleep together until after she was allowed to learn his identity. This Catwoman does not know who Batman is, thus breaking all the established rules of Batman’s characterization.

Batman would totally bang some anonymous chick. He’s a millionaire playboy, after all.

How many major romances can you think of that Batman has had in continuity? Silver St. Cloud? Nocturna? Talia al Ghul? Selina Kyle?

What do ALL of those romances have in common?

Batman didn’t sleep with--or even TRY to get close to--any of them until they knew his identity.

Even setting that aside, Batman is the most paranoid human being on the planet. Remember, this is a guy who has contingency plans for his contingency plan’s contingency plan. Even if he uses protection, guess what? Condoms break. And Batman is not going to take that risk.

Hey, in that Justice League Unlimited episode, they said Batman left his DNA all over Gotham, so--

A.) Different continuity
B.) It’s established in that very conversation that it was most likely blood, and definitely not ejaculate.
C.) You’re a moron.

This is early in Batman’s career, though! He might not be that cautious yet!

Wrong. On several counts, actually. At the beginning of Justice League #1, there’s a Five years ago… caption. There is no such caption on this story, so we must assume it takes place in the present day. But even aside from that

It’s already established in this scene that Batman is paranoid enough to wear some kind of skin protectant--presumably a salve of some kind--for safety. You think a guy who smears a metallic tasting protectant all over the TINY amount of flesh that’s revealed by his costume is going to take a risk as big as putting his cock inside a criminal? Seriously?

But…but okay, how about this? It’s a reboot! This ain’t your daddy’s Catwoman! She‘s totally not the same character as pReboot!

…if that’s your argument, you probably shouldn’t have opened with just how many ways this works because of precedent in continuity. Idiot.

And I suppose you could do better, huh? Go ahead! Make a sexy Bat/Cat scene that's better! HA I BET YOU CA--









LOLERCOPTER. It's hilarious how much I'm not a letterer or colorist.

Pulled this out of my ass in thirty minutes with a super shitty internet photoshop clone. It ain't great, but it ain't awful. Sexy, but most ages safe, not rape-y, not slut shaming, not out of character, not objectifying, an innuendo for those who are old enough to get it but still a very soft PG-13, with a bonus "ambigous enough to be an easy out" last page if the internet gets pissed off about the content. THAT'S RIGHT, NEXT ISSUE BATMAN PUSHES HER AWAY AND THE STORY GOES ON, INTERNET...unless this doesn't make you mad, in which case...morning after!

...

NEVER LET IT BE SAID I AM NOT THOROUGH IN MY ARGUMENTS.

Well, even after you have pointed out all these problematic issues from IRL, characterization and continuity standpoints, I still like it.

Well, you’re a bad person and you should feel bad, 'cause now you're just being willfully ignorant.

I accept this. Can I stop acting like a prickish fanboy now?

Yeah, whatever. Back to the brain-ether with you.

Yay! Ether!




Okay, look, I can understand not seeing all the potential problems here. They're numerous and they're easy to miss in such a mediocre story, especially if you're skimming. I wish I had the ability to skim, or the ability to not see the subtext, but I don't.

And some of the people who enjoyed this issue enjoyed it because they're Bruce/Selina shippers Which brings up the mind boggling question of how you can be Bat/Cat shippers and be thrilled with a scene that comes out of nowhere and betrays both their established characterizations, thus serving sensationalist sex before character, but whatever... so that's understandable too.

But from literally every angle this scene does not work. In context, it's random and nonsensical, coming straight out of left field. This is our introduction to Catwoman; even if we assume there's a long standing relationship between Batman and Catwoman, we certainly never see any real evidence of that. We're told that the history of a sexual relationship is there, but telling=/=showing, and telling=/=showing=bad writing.

Catwoman, who's always been about the tease, even when she's sleeping with Batman, isn't a flirt anymore. She's the sexually desperate, aggressive fantasy figure of an immature fourteen year old boy's wet dreams.

...I just realized something else. God, this book is so many layers of bad. It's an onion of bad.

This Catwoman is the ultimate fantasy figure for the insecure, socially stunted manchild. A woman who's so sexually aggressive she takes all the effort and guesswork out of trying to get her into bed. How many fanboys do you know who'd be utterly thrilled with this scenario? I mean, the fanboys who are too shy to talk to girls? Or the fanboys who are too asshole-y to secure dates?

God knows I've known my fair share of both...

This isn't a judgment on them, or to suggest that those are the only kinds of people who read comics, but rather, this is a judgment on Judd Winick. This is Winick's idea of the ultimate fantasy for his audience, which says a lot about what he thinks his audience s comprised of--and therein lies much of the problem.

This book is written with an eye towards appealing to the straight male comics reader and only the straight male comics reader.

There is nothing in this scene that is meant to appeal to anyone who is not a straight male. That excludes not only women but also all individuals who identify as any sexuality other than straight. If there were actualy character or plot development, it could be excused, because that appeals to everybody, but...no. There's just straight up graphic heterosexual sex designed to appeal to the heterosexual male.

Even if the overall issue appeals to a handful of people outside Winick's own self imposed demographic, that doesn't change the fact that he seemingly forgot any of us exist and might drop a few dollars of our hard earned money on this title.

Sure, you can argue that since most comics readers are straight males, he doesn't need to try and appeal to anyone else, but comics as an industry need as many readers as they can get--and alienating them with the very clear message "This title is not for you!" isn't a good thing.

And, further, this, more than any other non-Elseworlds take on the characters, is so wildly out of character it might as well be bad fanfiction, or about some other random Cat Burglar/Vigilante pairing. It's actually more OOC than most Elseworlds, including the one where Batman and Catwoman are pirates...or the one where she's a cursed werecat...

...it's more in-character than Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham, though.

If you enjoyed this issue? And can still enjoy it having read all these points? Well, you know what? More power to you. You have fun with that. I'll just judge you quietly over here in my little corner of judgeyness. The series had potential and I was ready to forgive a lot up until the last five pages when it burned through all the good will I had left.

I've defended DC at every turn with this reboot, never, ever ready to believe the worst and always hoping for the best.

Well...thanks for kicking me in the teeth again, guys. I won't run out of boundless optimism anytime soon, but God damn if you don't make me really fucking tired on a weekly basis these days.
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STUFF AND NONSENSE

This is the back-up account for what I hope will be the Ultimate Catwoman Fan Blog--Dr. Von Fangirl on LiveJournal. You should go check it out over there. I much prefer the original article.

November 2011

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