Friday, September 30, 2011

DCnU - Catwoman #1 from DC's New 52

Catwoman is written by Judd Winick with art by Guillem March.

There has been a lot of talk about the perceived sexism in this book online. It starts off with a boob shot of Catwoman, and the whole first page, she is basically running around half-undressed. And we don't see her face. That doesn't show up until page three. And there is a butt shot at the bottom of page 2 as well. To be fair, most of page 2 is taken up by the people coming to kill her.

There have been many reviews, op ed pieces, articles and blog posts taking Winick and March to task for this.

This isn't going to be one of them. I'll note this: There is cheesecake in this book. Mr. March's art is gorgeous, and he clearly enjoys drawing the female form. If you are offended by this, and see it as objectification, you will most likely not like this book. If you are tittilated by this, you'll probably love the book.

It is equally clear what is on Mr. Winick's mind, as when Catwoman's apartment is being searched, she remarks that all they will find are "bras, books, wine and cat food." I was interested by those choices. Had they all been "b" words, I would have understood starting with "bras." But does Catwoman have no other clothes? If it has been "bras, books, booze and baby food. For these babies, of course - my feline companions" I don't think it would have jumped out at me the same way.

So, going in, know that you are getting a book that is about sex. It's clearly on both writer and artist's mind. Catwoman is hypersexualized in this book. Some people will find this offputting.

With that out of the way, as already mentioned, I find March's art to be absolutely gorgeous. And sometimes disturbing. Selina goes undercover to a Russian mob party (and our Mysterious Lady in Red is there, too). There she sees someone who once shot a friend of hers. She loses it. She goes from more of the sex kitten (you should pardon the expression) stuff - in this case used to get close to her target in the men's washroom - as shown on the left into a raging fury as shown below.

The sheer savagery of her attack, for me, shows a few important character details about Selina - she is, much like her namesake, mercurial. She didn't seem to get that upset when her apartment was blown up. Merely curious as to why. But when confronted with someone who hurt a friend? She tears him apart. And she does it with all the gusto of a cat. When a cat attacks something, it goes all out. Catwoman does, too. The power of these images also serves to completely tamp down any prurient thrill that came with the shot shown above.

And again, like her namesake, after this attack, Selina makes her escape from the Russians, with a smile on her face for much of it. The damage done, she returns to her more serene self.

Once she has escaped, she goes back to her hotel room, and Batman shows up. Here is the next part which many people have had issues with... She throws herself at Batman, who turns her down. But when she is a little more forceful, he gives in. She says "Every time... he protests. Then... He gives in. And he seems... angry."

Then, they have sex. Sure, we don't see the penetration or anything, but the suggestion is clear, and the images bordering on erotic. This scene bothered a lot of people. I get why people may not want sex in their comic. I also get that I am not a woman, so I may be seeing this from the wrong perspective, but to me, this scene is not bad. Catwoman is the aggressor - she starts the situation, perpetuates it, and ends up on top. She says "Usually it's because I want him. Tonight it's because I need him." She has been through a lot, and needs to feel close to another person on a day where she lost her apartment and brutally beat, perhaps killed someone from her past.

That doesn't seem a ludicrous reaction. And "between consenting adults" and all that. Even if they both dress up as animals and run around in the night.

Overall, I am certainly intrigued enough to read the second issue. If the emphasis on cheesecake remains high, I will lose interest, bur for now, the combination of Selina's risk-taking personality, her true closeness to her friends and the question of who wants her dead have me interested enough to stick around. Between that and the art, this book is definitely worth me checking out issue 2. If it is more like the middle of the book, and less like the beginning and ending, then I will be around for a while.

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