Does Catwoman #1scratch an itch, or just bite?
Catwoman is on the prowl again.
DC’s New 52 slips on the leather cat suit and whip and gets a little rough, so be prepared, and know your safe word, because Catwoman is back. Watch out for your family jewels.
Like most of the New 52, this book sets about re-introducing the status quo for the character in this new continuity. Like most of the Bat-books, not much is really changing here for the character, except for what has to change to reflect the larger editorial decisions at DC.
Everything about Selina Kyle has been cranked up to 11 here. Winick’s story has Selina starting her life over, yet again, after losing everything when someone she pissed off blows up her home, again. Right from the start there is danger, there is action and look, and there are her breasts about to spill out of her bra.
While the story engages, it’s more likely March’s artwork that will have people talking about Catwoman. The first four pages have Selina trying to escape three large, machine gun totting thugs who have surprised her in her home. As they break down the door, she is hastily gathering up what she needs, while scooping up her brood of startled looking felines, to make a hasty escape. While she is putting on her “work clothes” we get shots of her body. Her legs, her butt and her cleavage, are all prominently featured from provocative angles, all before we get to see her full face.
There will be those who will say its exploitive and sexist, focusing on Selina’s body in such a way. I can’t say that they are wrong. I am reminded of the “bad girl” trend in comics of the mid 90’s. But Catwoman is the original Bad Girl. Is her being assertive with her sexuality a bad thing? If this book had a woman’s name as writer or artist would it be any less exploitive? Does the fact that the name Rachel Gluckstern appears in the credit as editor give it any leeway?
Winick takes us inside Selina’s mind, her motivations, her fears and her needs that shape her actions. She is smart, but impulsive, and it’s that tendency to give into her baser animal instincts lead her into trouble, maybe more trouble than she can handle on her own. The story has Catwoman’s past come back to haunt her. While doing recon for a potential job, a run in with a Russian mobster has her flashing back to a time where she was not as strong (and strongly implying a history of prostitution in her past), when she witnessed another woman beaten and killed. Unfortunately for him, Selina is much more assertive now. Unfortunately for her, this blows her cover, and now adds the Russian mob to those after her.
Oh, then there’s Batman. Between Selina’s exploding apartment, and her beat down of the Ruskie, Batman was bound to wind that she was attracting some attention. Catwoman and Batman, the very mention of the two them together conjures up thoughts of leather and rubber, capes and claws. The idea that they are lovers is not new, but not since Pfeiffer and Keaton has their coupling been so graphically explored outside of slash fan fiction. I have to admit my first reaction to these pages reminded me of being a 13 year old boy, discovering late night basic cable.
“I really shouldn’t be looking at this, but I can’t not look at this.”
Provocative and borderline pornographic, Winick and March captures not just the physical relationship between the Cat and the Bat, but the emotional one. Having Selina admit that she may need Batman, in any capacity is telling of just how she feels for the Caped Crusader. For Batman to allow himself such an indulgence as to let someone get that close to him, both physically and emotionally, well that should tell you a lot.
Catwoman doesn’t need anyone. Batman’s own hesitance, but eventual submission also speaks volumes. Batman does not give in. It’s easy to focus on Selina’s hips and Batman’s abs on the last page, but my attention moved up, to Selina’s hand, resting on the Dark Knight’s shoulder. This is not a booty call. These two need each other.
You do have to stop and wonder, in all those pouches and compartments on Batman’s belt and costume, he has to have some bat-condoms in there, right? He’s Batman. He’s always prepared for anything.
The reaction to this book will be pretty dramatic. You will probably either love it or hate it. The “fetish-ization’ of Catwoman will make some seethe, and work themselves up. Others will be drawn in by the bold risks the creative team is taking. Either way people are talking about Catwoman, which is what DC wanted with the relaunch, isn’t it?
a $2.99 comic, 32 pgs
(w) Judd Winick (a) Guillem March