Catwoman 2011 #1

Writers and artists alike have the tendency to be swept up in the world-wind of Catwoman's sex appeal and keep their focus on that aspect of her character, never bothering to dig deeper and find that there is a lot more to her than the popularised sexy burglar. It's one of the main problems I've spotted quite frequently reading Catwoman comics. Not only is she a wildly underused character, she is one of my favourites too, and if anyone has read  Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker's take on her, you'd probably find it quite tricky to disagree. They set the bar for Catwoman, and I don't think - in anything I have read after - it has been topped. 

A reinvention of Catwoman came along with DC's reboot of 52 of their current character properties, the New 52. Here was a chance to portray the Catwoman that had been long forgotten - and mostly never remembered - in an updated, modernised version that kept in line with the fundamental appeal of her along with that much-needed depth. 

For the record, I am not much of a singular comic reader. It's not that I don't want to read singular comics and follow a story arc before heading into book form, I have done and still do, it's just that my collection includes quite a lot of collected editions rather than single issues. (This is something I am planning on changing.)

With first issues of comics, one of the things that I do look out for (as I don't have much of a criteria apart from decent artwork at least when I skim through something, then the rest comes later) is that it at least sets into motion the intrigue of wanting to read on; see what happens next. Catwoman #1 couldn't even come close to me wanting to read issue 2, or care about a character that I have followed and loved for many years. And that is where the bad writing comes in - the fault to this 30-page mess.

The story to Catwoman #1 is so thinly laid out that it is hard to understand what is going on, who is who, and why Catwoman is bothering to do what she is doing. All that I gathered, story-wise, was that Catwoman had pissed some people off (standard Catwoman) who then blow up her apartment in an act of vengeance. A new character who is pretty much like Holly Robinson (just one that is so forgettable I can't remember her name), tells Selina where she can crash for a few weeks, and also gives her a local hot-spot for a job heist.

I had to persevere with this comic as it already proved a struggle reading - both within the writing and drawings - very early on, but I decided to give it a chance. And what did I find? A confused, jumbled, often-steaming pile of horse shit, in so many words.

Coming across people who don't read comics or don't really have a grasp on the medium always leads to a confusing discussion. The most common criticism I have heard of comics (and games) is within their potrayal of genders. You have the pumped up, alien-steroid superhero, and the big boobed, fat arse heroine who doesn't really do much. Throw them into some James Bond-like action with explosions and all that shit, and that's a comic issue.

I understand the negatives pitted against comics because I have read things like I described above. Now, though, I find these kinds of comics far in-between - times have changed and the medium is branching out to form a lot of independent publishers and webcomics surrounding the key figureheads. All of these forms have their fair share of great stories and artwork, and that's not to say Marvel and DC haven't had their moments, they certainly have and I hope they will carry on that trend at some stage. Comics are slowly catching up and becoming more of the age and  the 21st century. Women and men can be found on equal ground a lot of the time.

Catwoman #1 has turned the progress of comics on its head and couldn't be more truthful to the negativity surrounding both writing and artwork in this form. It's prehistoric view of both Selina Kyle and Catwoman would be laughable if it weren't so damn offensive to the already-found readership of the cat burglar.

Besides turning Selina into a overtly heightened sexualised version of herself (more so than I have seen before and almost like a parody in certain ways), there were questionable moments about her character that seemed so out of place - how she brutalised that guy in the club she ended up at for one (there was a flashback scene showing what this guy had done to one of Selina's friends, so there was at least some backstory to tie it up loosely with). She seemed like some demonic, possessed demon at one point - crazy eyes and all. This ain't no Catwoman story, I can tell you that.

I get what DC are trying to do with their New 52 series. Attracting a new readership of people who don't know these characters and haven't grown up with them is a good way to get new blood interested in comics. The idea to the reboot is fine, it's just the way that it has been carried out, the stories and artwork just aren't very good. And c'mon, guys, for the love of God you can't include lines like this (about Batman):

"He tastes like metal. He uses an ointment or something to keep his flesh safe. I've grown to like it. A lot."

With the mention of Batman, I bring you to the worst thing about this comic (if it already hadn't topped itself as my least favoured read of the year) - the sex scene. This isn't just any sex scene, though - this is a sex scene between Catwoman and Batman, which read awfully a lot like forced-sex (Catwoman forcing herself upon Batman).

We see Batman and Catwoman fucking. We actually see it.

And my questions is: Why?

I like the relationship between Batman and Catwoman, I am a fan, but there is a step that shouldn't ever, ever be crossed (see Superman fucking Wonder Woman in The Dark Knight Strikes Again) and this is it. Their whole sexual relationship has been eluded to more times than I can count, and that's understandable.  We all know that Batman and Catwoman have had a 'thing' going on for quite sometime in many different canon versions. Showing a very subtle sex scene would have just passed it even, or at least one that had a tad of emotion or purpose to the story. It would have been questionable, yes, but, in it's defense, I'm positive a different sex scene wouldn't have been nearly as close to the likes of this abomination:

Plus, to use the cliché of putting the cherry on top of the cake, if this scene couldn't get more creepy, and disturbingly fan-boyish, Catwoman #1 rightfully takes the crown from Mephisto in Spiderman: One More Day when it comes to the most fucking absurd piece of dialogue put to print:

"...and most of the costumes stayed on."

Trying to think of something redeemable about this one has proved a struggle. Usually I can find something, even it is a small little thing - maybe a written scene, or an unusual panel. Nope, there was truly nothing. Not even on a schlock entertainment level was there something to hold onto dear life.

Truly, it is a big let down - there is so, so much potential with this character that just wasn't realised or introduced properly. Everything about this Catwoman rendition is cringey - from the eye-stabbingly (new word?) bad dialogue, to the unappealing sexed-up artwork- it's one of the most pointless and stereotypical reworkings of a character I have seen for quite sometime, and hopefully there won't be any more of this stinking tripe soon.

If you haven't read anything Catwoman-related before, for your own well-being, don't start here. Catwoman #1 isn't the Selina Kyle I know and it shouldn't be the one you know either. 


  1. This is insanely depressing. The art looks spectacular, but the they're taking a huge step back. So disappointing.

    1. It is really depressing. You'd think that companies as big as DC Comics would have really learnt their lesson in terms of understanding the demographic that read comics don't actually all want a cardboard cut out oversexualised character, Catwoman or not. Same with a lot of superheroes as well. Does make me lose faith in them with their comic output. Their TV shows seem to be fairing a lot better these days.

      I'd have to disagree with you on the art. It's not really my thing, though I did like the drawing style of Catwoman beating up the guy in the club, even if it was really out of place in terms of character.

  2. I dont think you can take away one more days crown. It pretty much killed the spiderman franchise.

    Also check out Atop the 4th walls blogspot he also released a video review of a catwoman comic. Like a couple hours after you review this. Coincidence?

    1. Nothing in your eyes can be as bad as One More Day obviously haha. I hope you enjoy my review of it when I put it up, you're mentioned.

      Haha what the fuck, that's weird. Just looked it up, but it's Guardian of the Gotham, which, incidentally, I was going to read and possibly review. GET OUT OF MY MIND, MAN.

    2. *Guardian of Gotham

      Can't seem to edit my comment above for some reason, argh.

  3. It is disappointing when Catwoman gets used like this. When done well, she's a fantastic character, one of the best in the Batman universe, but it seems a lot of people use her for the cheap sex angle.

    Even in some beloved Batman books, she seems to be thrown into the mix just to add some sex appeal. Yea, I'm looking at you BATMAN: YEAR ONE.

    I'm curious, what do you think her best stories are?

    1. It's what is frustrating about it most - you can still keep her as a sexy character, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have some kind of brain at least.

      I couldn't disagree with the Batman: Year One comment (even though, like many others, I do like it), as Frank Miller isn't one for not sexualising his women - a point, as a fan of his earlier work and Sin City run (have yet to read 300, heard it is good)I don't agree with. I guess Elektra had a lot of heart to her too, definitely his best female character to date.

      The best stories I have read of her have to be Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker's 2001 - 2002 run. Can't really describe how much I love all of those issues. I also really liked Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb's When in Rome. Those two are the definite ones to spring to mind, but I'm re-reading and finding new Catwoman comics that I hope to review, so fingers crossed that I can spring out some gems!

    2. Meant to say *don't not agree with*, on the subject of Frank Miller.

  4. Ouch...
    Aiming for a Neveldine & Taylor made movie from the sounds of it.
    Is there a need for sex in graphic novels do you think? I sell a lot of specifically sexual comics to a few customers in the bookshop and they always look tacky and silly. Whenever I've come across them in regular books i think it feels forced 9 times out of 10 and detracts from the overall feel of the book.

    1. Sex is a part of life, so I do think it is necessary to include it in some way if it is benefiting the story and characters involved.

      The sex scenes that I immediately remember, and for good reason, when I think about comic sex scenes, is in NANA.

      NANA does sex so perfectly. It is a central part to the story and how character's view each other, but it is never done in a gratuitous way, there is always care shown for what is going on.

      If it's there for the sake of drooling fanboys, then sex doesn't need to be in it. But if it has a purpose, and is done well in terms of drawing, etc., then by all means it should be included.

  5. I have never read a Cat Woman comic yet, but I have been meaning to. Where should I start?
    Great post btw.

    1. As I mentioned above, everyone should definitely read Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke's run, along with When in Rome (which is a parallel of Batman: Dark Victory).

      I liked the Catwoman mini-series, which is a 4 issue short run. It was a pretty good origin story I thought, even if it hasn't dated too well. There are a couple of iffy things about those comics, but they're enjoyable all the same, and I liked this origins of her character, which has stuck for most versions(when it comes to her parents, anyway).

      I'm making my way through the old issues of Catwoman that had a fair few comics under its belt. The Brubaker/Cooke run carries on after the end of that Catwoman series (which finished in 2001), so it'll probably be good to start right at the beginning.

      I'd recommend reading Catwoman comics before going into things like Gotham City Sirens or Gotham Girls where she appears alongside other Gotham females, as you'll get a better grasp of her as a lone character that way.

      Hope that helps, and check out this link as there are a list of Catwoman comics there that might interest you!

      Glad you liked the post as well!




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