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Following on the heels of Catwoman #1-4 is Catwoman #5, the first issue that brings Azrael into Catwoman's book, albeit briefly. We'll be getting more into him with the next post, but for now all you really need to know is that he's temporarily filling Batman's shoes.

So, Catwoman #5 opens with Azrael watching over Gotham, which doesn't really have anything to do with anything, and then, after a few pages, kicks over to Catwoman in disguise at the newly opened Skid Row Buds and Flowers. (Cute, Jim Balent, very cute.)

Roller skaters, Ninja Nuns and fighting florists behind the cut... )

Next time, Catwoman meets Azrael for the first time and is seriously not impressed. Same Cat Time, Same Cat Station!
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Today, I finally, finally start tackling Catwoman's first solo series, from 1993.

(If you haven't yet read The COMPLETE Definitive Catwoman Origin, now would be the time...)

This kicks off 31 Day Scans-a-Palooza, in which I rather suicidally try to post something scans-y once a day, every day, until Halloween. CAN YOU DO IT, DODGERS?

In 1993, with Batman Returns bringing Catwoman back into the limelight in a very big way and making her more popular than ever before, the nineties 'Bad Girl Comic' trend in full swing and the speculator comics bubble still intact, it was inevitable that Selina would wind up with her own solo series. Commonly known as the "Jim Balent Era" or, more often, the "Purple Suit Era," Catwoman's first ongoing series lasted from 1993 to 2001, and stretched some ninety-four issues, plus annuals.

Before the Purple Suit Era began, Catwoman's appearances through Batman's history were fairly sparse. Despite her iconic status, there were entire decades where she made just a handful of appearances. After Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred, giving her a revamped history and look (the gray suit), she popped up a grand total of thirty-six times before the series launched in 1993--an average of five times a year--and many of those appearances were cameos.

With the success of Batman Returns--and, to a lesser extent, Batman: The Animated Series--people were clamoring for a Catwoman solo book, and with the huge Batman event Knightfall going on, spanning several Bat-Family titles, it was incredibly smart of DC to start yet another that could serve as a tie-in to the main Batman books.

(Which is why the first few dozen issues are rife with crossover activity: Catwoman's book was treated less as an actual title in its own right and more as a suppliment to whatever was going on in the DC Universe at large at any given time. This is probably one of the reasons why it's never been collected, and should give you some idea of just how much DC actually valued her before Brubaker's run came along: which is to say not a whole hell of a lot...)

The Catwoman we know from the Purple Suit era first appears in Batman #498, when she's approached by the criminal Bane who, after sending every available villan after Batman and finally breaking Gotham's protector with his own two hands, pretty much runs Gotham through a vast criminal network in Batman's absense. Bane 'offers' Catwoman the job of stealing for him, and with no recourse, she 'accepts', thus becoming a thief-for-hire under duress. And that's where the first story arc of Catwoman picks up, with a museum heist gone awry:

The Abridged Catwoman #1-4: SO MANY SCANS BEHIND THE CUT OMIGOSH. )

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So, you want to read Catwoman's solo adventures from the nineties, huh? Think it'll be easy? Think all you have to do is buy every issue in numeric order and that'll be that?

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, wait, wait, I need a minute here. Eh heh, ah ha, ahem. *cough, cough*

I thought that too, once. I was really, really wrong.

With both my very own Catwoman: Year One Timeline and its follow-up Catwoman Year Two out of the way, I can finally start scanning and reviewing all of Catwoman Vol. 2--better known as the Jim Balent Purple Suit Era--which follows the events of those stories perfectly.

There's just one problem: in case you were unaware, comic books from the nineties are a bit of a total custerfluck. I said as much in my review of Catwoman: Year Two, but you really have no idea HOW bad it is. You need a friggin' roadmap to read comics in the nineties, and Catwoman's first ongoing solo title is certainly no exception. It's an intimidating prospect, especially if you're a bit of a newbie or just a casual collector/fan and not...you know...me of the encyclopedic knowledge oh god why didn't I use some of those dendrites for getting better at math.

With this in mind, I've put together a handy guide/checklist, separating each storyarc within the series, and pointing out all the crossover tie-ins that you'd need to pick up to get the whole story. As I scan and review these storyarcs, I'll use this post as a master links list, so that if you're looking for something in particular, you'll be able to refer back to it. I've even included covers, because picture just make everything nicer and will probably whet your appetites better. I personally own all of these issues, so don't worry: there won't be any gaps in my reviews. You'll be getting the entire solo series from start to finish.

Please note: Several annuals have been left out of this listing, since none of them actually fit within the book's own continuity. They WILL be posted, but since two of them are Elseworlds and the other two are pretty nebulous continuity, it seems kind of silly to try and make them fit within the larger context of the series.

Ready? Hooray! Let's get started.

Catwoman #1-4

Tag Lines
#1: When she's bad, she's very very bad...
#2: She'll make them with they were never born...
#3: Some people are dumb enough to get in her way...
#4: They'll never take her alive...

#1: Life Lines: Rough Diamonds
#2: Line Lines: Blast from the Past
#3: Life Lines: Shadow of the Cat
#4: Life Lines: Full Circle

A look ahead at what's on the way in the next few weeks, arc by arc! )

And there you have it. If there are any issues you guys are especially looking forward to, or are really curious about, please don't hesitate to tell me in the comments! I plan on reviewing everything in order, but who knows? If you're looking forward to something specific, it might motivate me to review faster than I would otherwise! :D

Of course, I still have to finish the listings for all the mini-series and guest appearances and cameos and Elseworlds and Animated appearances and her other solo title and...why did I start this blog again? NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. Thank God I started my own database to keep everything neat or they might just find my rotting corpse under an avalanche of comic books. Sheesh.
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Cheesecake (noun): Also called Leg Art. Photographs featuring scantily clad attractive women.

T&A (abbreviation): Tits and Ass.

I know some people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around why we in the comics blogosphere are blowing our stacks over Catwoman #1, especially people in the comments of places like Comics Alliance and Newsarama. I mean, after all, comics are a medium in which women are portrayed as hyper-sexualized all the time, and thus, we should expect it to come with the territory.

Never mind that nobody can actually give me a good reason for why that is the way it is, other than “That’s how it’s always been.” which, frankly, isn’t a reason to do anything.

“I keep stubbing my toe on that coffee table!”

“Well, why don’t you move it?”

“But it‘s always been there!”

Highly illogical.

One of the biggest defenses rising from that mentality is that Catwoman qualifies as a Cheesecake Art Book and not an Objectfying Claptrap Book.

I am here to shut those people up. So sit your ass down, you’re about to get schooled.

Webcomic courtesy of Ty Templeton, six pages from Catwoman #1 (2002) and some mildly NSFW cheesecake art behind the cut. )

How people are still defending this issue is completely beyond me. It’s not just offensive, it’s objectively bad because it’s poorly written. LE SIGH.

And the worst of it is, in all fairness to Winick, I actually really like some of his work (some of his Batman run, specifically, and a bit of his Green Arrow) and by all accounts, his Batwing does right everything Catwoman does wrong. What is it about this title that made him totally jump the rails?

*A note to commeters: Though I'm posting this webcomic, I don't condone use of words like 'hooker' or even 'prostitute'; sex worker is the only term really welcome here in regards to the profession in question, so I ask you to please respect this when commenting. Sex workers read comics blogs, too, you know. :)
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The following is a dual review of Catwoman: Year Two, written by myself, [livejournal.com profile] dr_von_fangirl, and my counterpart for all things Two-Face, [livejournal.com profile] about_faces. For ease of reading, my commentary is in colored font, while his is in black. Mine also centers on Catwoman, while his centers, unsurprisingly, on Two-Face. Funny how the work just magically divvies itself up like that when you're each experts on those respective characters.

You might not know it from previous posts, but I'm an incredibly harsh critic, even when it comes to things I like. Picking a story apart, whether it's a film or a comic book or an eighty chapter epic is one of the most enjoyable things about digesting entertainment for me. It forces me to examine things I dislike, come to understand why I dislike them, and helps me to appreciate what I enjoy about them all the more. Such is the case here. While there's a lot to like about Selina's '90s series, there's a lot to dislike, too, and this story is, sadly, one of the best examples of those things. Please be advised it's going to get torn to shreds before your very eyes.

[livejournal.com profile] about_faces: So, I've been reviewing Doug Moench's various Two-Face appearances for some time, going in chronological order. They've been a mixed bag, but a far more interesting mixed bag than I thought from back when I read the stories originally. Even the infamous Face Schism story had more going for it than I originally thought! So maybe the *next* Harvey story of his might not be so bad either! Hmm... wait, what *is* is the next Moench story?

... oh. Oh no. Not that one. Not... it... I... I can't...

... Ummm... Henchgirl? *singsong* Oh my beloved Henchgiiiirl? Hellooooooo, [livejournal.com profile] bitemetechie?


Hi! Thank god! Say, uh, how masochistic are you?

...is this the sort of question I should be openly answering on your fanblog? You know my tendency to overshare.

Erm... *cough*... it's just, I only ask because... well, I am about to review a story which is very relevant to your interests! I mean, considering that you moonlight as [livejournal.com profile] dr_von_fangirl, expert in all things Catwoman, queen of Selina... *cough*even the Jim Balent years...*cough*

You don't mean...


Because... because it has Harvey in it! And also, I thought that maybe you and I could maybe kinda sorta do a dual review together maybe? You know how much I love your geek brain. Not to mention your geek everything-else...

Oh, hush. Look, don't get me wrong, there is a lot to enjoy about Selina's nineties series, but you have no idea what kind of clusterfuck you're getting into here. BECAUSE CATWOMAN'S ENTIRE NINETIES SERIES IS A CLUSTERFUCK. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE CLUTERFUCKNESS OF THE CLUSTERFUCK. I MEAN LOOK AT ALL THAT EMPHASIS. EVEN THAT FALLS SHORT.

Yes, but Catwoman: Year Two, which ran through Catwoman #38-40, is at least a *standalone* clusterfuck! And besides, the events of this story follow pretty directly after the events that you so excellently covered in your comprehensive, complete, and definitive origin of Selina, which tied all her Post-Crisis stuff into a neat little package.

Oh, you mean that post that everyone everywhere should read because it totally took nearly a year to complete, you shameless flatterer? That one?

Exactly! So you might be interested to know that C:Y2 is the only story thus far to bridge the gap between Frank Miller's gray-suit Catwoman into the purple-suited Jim Balent character from the 90's solo series!

But even still, this story is kind of...not-great.

Oh, it's awful. Lousy. Dialogue is horrible, characters are all over the place, and the art is the visual equivalent of being unreadable. You'd probably know better than I, but it might just represent the absolute nadir of Selina's 90's series. BUT it features both of our favorite characters "facing off"!

I see what you did there, HURR.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I want... no, I need to drag you into this mess with me, so that perhaps we can at least get some entertainment value out of this crap.

Hooray! I'm helping!

Besides, I think it'd be fantastic to see what happens when our two favorite characters meet up for the first time. Just imagine: Selina Kyle and Harvey Dent, hanging out together! Do you think they'll get along as swimmingly, as perfectly, as absolutely lovey-dove-ily wonderfully as we do?

I'm guessing not.

On with the trainwreck! Choo-chooooooo!

When Selina met Harvey (...and the Joker... AND the Penguin): WARNING: SCANS HEAVY! )

So, readers, any thoughts?
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)
In the late nineties, to compliment her solo series, Nintendo released a Catwoman game for the Gameboy Color. By all accounts, it wasn't a very good game, but it marked the first time in gaming history that you could slip into Selina's skin and pull a museum heist. Here's the nifty (if poorly written) intro, featuring Selina and Talia Head.

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It's Cover!Wednesday again! Today, we're going to do something a tad bit different than the usual 'post pretty pictures' thing, because I've noticed something.

Looking at the covers I've posted thus far of Selina's 90's series--the ones that I consider to be the coolest from an aesthetic viewpoint--it's interesting to note that the covers suffer from the same visual character development/derailment that the old Nancy Drew novel covers did. In the earliest covers, the main character is always doing something active--something badass--and always confident. For example:

Later, she's still active but scared/startled/apprehensive while in action:

Then she's falling off things...a lot. Or otherwise 'in danger':

Now, there are several instances of Catwoman being confident/badass after and in between these issues, but it's still an interesting trend to consider. In fact, this progression from active to active-but-scared to menaced eventually goes all the way to victim.

This progression inevitably leads to what our cover theme is for the day: The Damsel in Distress.

I find it interesting to note that, while in her solo series from the nineties and in various Bat-family titles she's often portrayed as the damsel in distress, whereas in her second solo series she's almost never portrayed as such. In fact, there are only three instances that I can find:

Let's compare, actually, by the numbers, her 90's series versus her '01 series. But just to make sure we've got things nice and even handed here, the criteria for being 'in distress' is as follows:

1.) Unconsciousness OR
2.) Being bound OR
3.) Falling off things
4.) No apparent means of escape
5.) Not visibly fighting back

Starting with the 90's series:

Issues #15, 20, 34, 42, 48, 49, 56, 57, 60, 63, 70, 74, 80 & 82


Issues #16, 24 & 45

That's fourteen vs. three, for those of you playing along at home.

Something else that I find interesting is that--overall--the same number of issues with DiD covers in series one were penned by both men and women. So it's clearly not a gender bias.

Series One
Jo Duffy: 0
Chuck Dixon: 3
Doug Moench: 3
Devin Grayson: 5
John Ostrander: 1
Bronwyn Carlton: 2

Series Two
Ed Brubaker: 2
Will Pfieffer: 1

In fact, stories written by a woman (Devin Grayson) are the worst offenders by sheer volume, it would seem.

Now, comics writers generally don't have much say over which cover goes on their comic-of-the-month. That's up to an editor to decide, based on the story's content. Does this mean that those stories themselves cast Selina as a damsel instead of a protagonist? Not necessarily, but it's interesting to note, nonetheless.

Of course, there is one instance of the Damsel in Distress trope being turned on its head, from Brubaker's run:

I'm not particularly fond of the art--I find it a bit on the grotesque side, actually--but it's nice to see this sort of thing happening. Rather than being cast as the victim collapsed in the hero's arms, Selina is cast in the hero's role.

Selina as Savior has always been more interesting to me than just Selina for Self. At least, it's always been more interesting since I've been a grown-up who no longer harbors the desire to be a pretty, pretty princess with a castle closet full of flouncy dresses and a treasury full of precious gems.

So, my Fellow Feline Fatale Fans, what do you make of this?

Edited to Add: It's no longer Off-Topic!Tuesday, but this tidbit is too good to just sit on for a week:

The New York Post (which is a bit of a scandal rag, I know) reports that a woman dressed as Catwoman recently robbed a shoe store in New York City.

The thief browsed in the store--in a cat mask!--for an hour and then made off with a whopping eighty-six dollars.

Well...points for cajones and execution, at the very least.
dr_von_fangirl: (Default)

And that's the end of the truly choice scans from Selina's 1993 (purple-suit era) series (the rest will follow as each issue is reviewed/scanned). But, to pad out this post, here's a nifty Nightwing cover featuring our girl:

dr_von_fangirl: (Default)

(Confused about why #0 comes AFTER #1? Catwoman #0 was published sometime around issue #14 and was part of the Zero Hour Event.)


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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