Catwoman flees her apartment when bruisers come calling, looking for something she stole from them. The flat destroyed, Selina seeks help from Lola, her fence and intel source, who sets her up with a gig at a Russian mafia party. There Selina spots a man from her past, someone who killed a woman in front of her. She surprises him in the mens’ room, distracts him with the offer of sex, and mutilates him. Maybe kills him. Later, at her high-class squat, Batman comes calling to check on her welfare. Which means have sex.
Well there you go. If Catwoman #1 is setting the tone, the series is going to be sex and violence a go-go. Writer Judd Winick does a good job of introducing the new Selina, we quickly get a handle on what her priorities are in life (‘They won’t find anything except bras, books, wine and cat food’). His Selina talks tough, but the vulnerability at the edges – for example, not admitting to Lola that she won’t stay with her because she doesn’t wish to endanger her – is apparent.
The softer side is captured very well by artist Guillem March, particularly in a portrait of Selina watching her apartment burn. And his Catwoman in motion is a joy to see. I’m not keen on the massive emphasis given to her chest (Gotham City is famed for its dirigibles) but I don’t doubt that the proportions are in Winick’s art directions – heaven knows, there are enough narrative references to bras. The opening panel is a focus on Selina’s breasts. And the title isn’t even pretending the book’s not hoping to attract fans of good girl art: ‘… and most of the costumes stay on’.
It’s all a bit adolescent, but teenage boys deserve comics too. I’m sure the sight of Catwoman and Batman having costumed nookie for three pages will fuel plenty of fantasies, and maybe spark a few subscriptions. Me, I like the Bat/Cat relationship played a little more subtly, and I don’t like the presentation of Batman as a man too broken to admit that he wants sex – here, he comes across as more victim than partner.
Plus, a couple of the pages could have been devoted to those adorable kitties Selina terrifies with her lifestyle (click to enlarge).
Selina undercover was a tad jarring, with the tones of her wig and pasty make-up reminding me of Batwoman Kate Kane (this might be the moment, though, to mention that colourist Tomeu Morey does a sterling job throughout). The party scene was also interesting for the inclusion of a Joker-themed gangster … it seems that the chap I was wondering about in Static #1 wasn’t the Crown Prince of Crime, but one of a number of criminal fashion victims across the DCU (the Mysterious Hooded Woman is also present, but she’s a bit boring, truth be told).
So, everything old is new again in the New 52. Catwoman doesn’t know Batman’s secret identity. She doesn’t have a child. Or cash reserves. Or the ability to plan her own jobs. Or much in the way of morals.
Before this month, Catwoman was a thief, but she was also a heroine of sorts. Certainly she didn’t harm innocents, as she does in this issue when she chloroforms a bartender to take over her role for the night. And the speed with which she loses control, savaging the gangster, is disturbing.
This woman, I don’t know her. And that’s fair enough. Catwoman is at an earlier stage in her life, she hasn’t yet learned that playing solely on the dark side of the road doesn’t make for a happy cat. Yes, risk makes for an interesting life, as she tells us – as we’re shown – here. But helping people while taking risks, not lowering yourself to the level of other criminals, is better.
And when Selina learns that lesson, I’ll be back.