At the end of my last post, a review of Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, I blamed what I consider to be a pretty bad comic book on DC Comics and the writer, Scott Lobdell. My naming Lobdell as a culprit and not the artist, Kenneth Rocafort, stems from the notion stubbornly stuck in my head that what the artist drew reflects the writer’s wishes. You’d think I’d be over that by now. It once was that way, long ago, but I know from personal, frustrating, recent experience that it seldom is these days. Sorry.
So, to be fair and balanced, after “…Scott Lobdell, get a grip,” I should have added: “Kenneth Rocafort, learn to tell a story.”
Beautifully drawn. However, Catwoman seems to be floating above, rather than resting upon the ledge. She’s totally detached from the background. The cast shadow under her doesn’t seem to help much.
Because lower ledges of the building, some distance away, are colored the same shade of gray as ones closer to our POV, depth is lost. Even a few cars way down on the street are colored that same shade of gray. Little depth-killers.
The logo doesn’t read as effortlessly as it should, because the “C” is a little “G”-like and the pink, cat-clawed “W” is mostly up against darker background elements and loses some pop.
In general, running a logo against a variegated background with light and dark values makes it hard to read. Painting them a variety of light and dark shapes was the way they camouflaged battleships, when there were battleships. A “battleship camouflage” background is a good way to obscure a logo, whether light or dark.
Despite all that, this logo works reasonably well. The halo around the letters helps.
Back to Catwoman herself. She’s apparently comfortable in high, precarious places. She’s languorously lolling. Maybe that sparkly white stuff coming out of the bag is super catnip.
So, what is the “hook” this cover offers? Curiosity about the catnip, I suppose. Intrigue inspired by her looking carelessly comfortable up high without a net. Wondering if she’s high the other way….
Mainly though, I’d say it’s cheesecake. Super cheesecake. If that’s what DC is selling here, as with Red Hood and the Outlaws, I defend to the death their right to do so. If that’s their plan, I’d say they did a pretty good job with this cover.
The artist, Guillem March, tells the story pretty well. Not the way I would have done it, and I have quibbles here and there, but I didn’t have any serious trouble understanding.
March does some nice things with the body language and acting. On page five, for instance, panel three, I love Catwoman’s pose, gesture, and the fact that she’s not looking at her friend Lola, rather looking down as she ticks off the particulars of her situation. Very natural, very human.
I also like the fact that Lola has a distinctive face and physiotype. Not the cookie cutter comic book standard looks. Real-person looks.
For that matter, while Catwoman has the over-the-top “babe” body, her face isn’t the standard babe-glyph. And, as he did in panel four of page four, March gives her human expressions.
This is great: In panel three on page eighteen, March uses a border to select a detail of his drawing, then does a matching inset showing a subtle change—Batman’s grip has relaxed!
Wow. As one who demands a great deal of subtlety from artists and seldom gets any of it, I am impressed.
So…March conveys information pretty well.
Now about some of the information he chooses, or is instructed to convey….
The first time we see Catwoman’s face is on page three. However, by then, we’ve seen close ups of her breasts barely contained by her delicate-looking-but-obviously-industrial-strength bra and her body, front and back, in action poses shot from angles chosen for display purposes. Oh by the way, when we finally see her head to toe, including face, she’s still only halfway into her skin-tight cat-suit. More bra, one cup trying to hold a cup-and-a-half.
The cover accurately represented the contents, then. Cheesecake.
There are lots more examples, some shown below.
So, what else do we have here?
And sex. With Batman. Don’t worry, nothing X-rated is shown, because, as the title avers, “…and most of the costumes stay on….”
March draws well enough, I suppose, especially things he’s especially interested in, like cheesecake and tight, shiny catsuits.
If he’s going to draw this series, he should learn what a cat looks like. Those little three-toed critters he draws are not cats. He should also get ref on a cat carrier, or at least decide if the one he’s drawing opens on top or at the ends.
I suppose that I should warn everyone that what follows is a mega-spoiler. Then again, can you really spoil a story if there is no story?
Writer Judd Winick gives us a series of incidents strung together. It’s not a story. I suppose it might be the beginning of a story, like a bunch of Lego blocks dumped out on the table that might, with the addition of many more blocks, become a little cabin or something.
I have my doubts.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman is attacked in her apartment. Apparently, she saw it coming. She escapes the skull-faced intruders. They blow up her apartment.
I wonder if the neighbors sustained any collateral damage? Well, no one cares about that.
And Catwoman doesn’t much care about having been attacked, or her attackers. Doesn’t know who they are or exactly why they attacked her. No response required, apparently. They are not heard from or spoken of again.
Catwoman goes to her friend Lola for help. Lola, her “fence” and her “intel man.” Fence? Catwoman is a thief?
Yes, I know that the original Catwoman, dating back to 1940, was a criminal, but this is the New 52, a partial do-over, so can we really take anything for granted?
Lola knows of an unoccupied luxury penthouse where Catwoman can “squat” for two weeks and tells her where she might find information that she can use to make money. A “job.”
Posing as a bartender at a Russian Mob soiree—rife with cheesecake, of course—Catwoman, who speaks Russian, learns of a painting worth a lot of money, but only to the mobsters. Why not steal it and sell it back to them…!
But, she sees a mobster, Renald, at the party who should be in prison. He’s free?!
Renald brutally murdered a young woman for doing something that pissed him off. This is shown in a flashback.
Abandoning her post at the bar, Catwoman (still disguised as a bartender) follows Renald into the men’s room, partially strips and approaches him seductively. Purple bra this time.
He buys it. Once she’s in his arms, she takes him by surprise. Half-dressed, she wreaks bloody vengeance.
She’s exposed in more ways than one.
The mobsters discover that the “bartender” is an infiltrator while she’s still in the men’s room. Fortunately, she has her Catwoman costume hidden above the suspended ceiling tiles…
…in the men’s room?!
She changes into Catwoman and fights her way out through dozens of burly, heavily armed mobsters, doing them major, bloody damage en route.
Wait a minute. If she’s able to easily rip through a dozen big thugs absolutely unscathed, why did she need to strip, pretend to come on to Renald and sneak-attack him? Why not just walk in and carve him up?
Oh, right. Cheesecake.
Speaking of which, Catwoman apparently has some kind of very sharp claws built into her gloves. However, when she carves up Renald, she does it with bare fingernails, which seem to be every bit as effective. Super fingernails?
Interesting that Catwoman was moved to seek vengeance for the young woman murdered by Renald but didn’t even bother to check on neighbors who might have been killed when her apartment was blown up by skull-faces.
I acknowledge that there is a mystery hinted at regarding the murdered young woman. Maybe the reason for Catwoman’s uncontainable, killing rage will emerge, who knows how many decompressed issues from now.
Back at her fabulous penthouse “squat,” a pensive Catwoman sits among her pet kitties.
Batman enters. He knows her apartment was blown up. He’s worried about her.
There is no introduction or explanation of Batman. We’re supposed to know. Fair enough. I guess most people these days know who Batman is. Or do we? This is the New 52. Can we really take anything for granted?
Catwoman throws herself at him, kisses him. She wants sex. He says no.
No means no, right?
Nope. She persists. Tackles him, in fact. They struggle on the expensive carpet, her on top, going for the pin. So to speak. After some resistance, he “…gives in.”
They have sex, shown as graphically, I suspect, as DC’s “Teen +” rating allows.
That’s the end, for this issue.
The collection of episodes presented here in issue #1 is pretty sparse. Very much decompressed. I make it sound like more happened than did.
Catwoman speaks to us through narrative captions, most of which are declarative: “I’m Selina Kyle, Catwoman.” “This is Gotham City.” “This is the Ivgene clan. Russian Mob.”
Or expository: “I’m a good eight rooftops away before I bother to look back.”
Some are her describing herself: “I’m not sure I like doing anything unless it puts me out on the limb. ‘Cuz that’s where the fruit is, right?” Her musings about herself tell us that she’s a thrill-seeker who loves danger. Okay.
At least it’s clearly her narration and there are no other narrators.
The dialogue, when there is dialogue, is pretty tepid. People say baldly what we need to know or mouth boilerplate lines: “<You think this is a game? Some kind of joke?>”
Then there’s this exchange:
Renald: “… You should know…I am not easily impressed.”
Catwoman as the Bartender: “Good. I like a challenge.”
So, what is this thing?
It’s cheesecake, as is evident on the cover. It’s nasty-violent, which isn’t evident on the cover, but the “Teen+” is a license to kill, I guess. It’s sex in the form of a blatant sex scene—“Teen +” strikes again.
I guess that’s what DC, Winick and March were going for. If so, they accomplished it well. Luckily for Winick, basic story-crafting and wordsmithing skills were not required.
A publisher can sell publications featuring T&A, violence and sex. A publisher can make the protagonist a thief, a self-appointed executioner and abusively, sexually aggressive. It’s up to them.
If you find any or all of the above offensive or of no interest, don’t buy Catwoman. What’s the alternative? Storm DC with torches and pitchforks?
If DC Comics thinks this is a good way to go, that it serves their goals, let them.
But, jeez, Louise, did they have to drag Batman into it?
NEXT: I’m Determined to Find One I Like….