Catwoman’s one of those characters I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with as a comic book reader. When I got into Batman books, it was during Knightfall and then Knightsend, which she played a part in. Not long after that, someone offered me a subscription to a comi, I went with Catwoman because it seemed fun and Jim Balent’s art looks pretty neat (and not just for the T&A factor, though I’m sure that didn’t go unnoticed at the time). I’d pick up issues here and there, but never really got into either the Ed Brubaker or Will Pfeifer stuff. I did love the character in the animated series and The Dark Knight Rises.
I’m not nearly as tapped in as I used to be, but I think there was some controversy about this book when it launched because Guillem March draws Catwoman very sexy and because she has sex with Batman at the end of the first issue and into the second. As I said when I read the first issue a few months back, that doesn’t bother me. I talked to a few friends and the point one of them made was that it might be a bad choice having one of the marquee characters in your universe raw dogging it with a criminal the first month of production. I get that, but, again, it didn’t bother me.
I’ve taken a new kind of approach to comics lately. I don’t so much care about one big cohesive universe or continuity anymore. The way I look at Big Two comics now is that a writer comes in, has access to all the past stories that have been written about said character (basically, the building blocks) and they construct their story with whichever blocks they choose while adding their own. I liked the ones Winick decided to play with. This Catwoman is a thief who steals out of greed, but still has a good heart, a code of ethics and a few friends she’s very attached to.
In the process of doing her thing, Selina Kyle finds herself with one less friend and in the presence of a man who wronged her greatly in the past. Seeing how she reacts to these situations gives us a chance to see how she really is and it’s not always as pretty as March’s art might make it seem. I got a very film noire/detective vibe from this story. Catwoman’s not a good character, but she does some good things and you wind up on her side even if you don’t think you’d do the same things in her situation (or be in that situation in the first place).
I’ve been a fan of Winick’s on books like The Outsiders, Green Lantern and Green Arrow, so I wasn’t surprised I’d like this book. I think there’s one more volume before he bounces right? I’ll give that one a read if I can get my hands on it.
I was less interested in Tony Daniel’s take on Batman in Detective Comics. This doesn’t have anything to do with my thoughts on Daniel — I like him quite a bit — the problem is that I think I’ve reached my fill of basic Batman stories. I have no idea where I read this, but I remember someone writing that they think some comic readers have a certain amount of a particular character’s story they can read and then they’re all filled up, the idea being that most writers can only do so much with a particular character (either because of their own level of ability or what the editor wants to see). While I can still read Catwoman stories, I’m just not sure how interesting I find another story where Batman has to track down a group of unknown criminals and deal with them in time to save an innocent (in this case Jim Gordon).
Don’t get me wrong, though, Daniel did some really cool things in this book. I actually like how he came up with a small army of new villains, either as part of Dollmaker’s crew or Penguin’s new pals. I also thought making Penguin’s club, The Iceberg Lounge into the floating Iceberg Casino is a great idea. I also appreciate the kind of old school Batman nature of the story which not only involves the aforementioned bad guys in outlandish costumes, but also a scene where Batman’s strung up like a puppet and has to fight four dudes dressed as Joker in the same states. That’s just a fun, weird idea that works when you’re dealing with guys in bat suits and, well, someone as bugnutty as Joker.
The Joker stuff is actually part of the only real, concrete thing about the book I didn’t like: it’s super dark. The Dollmaker’s people are all literally sewn together from other people, Joker’s face gets chopped off (and later shows up in Suicide Squad, which made that story make a lot more sense to me) and a handful of other nasty things happen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these elements are inappropriate by any means, but to return to my above metaphor, they’re not the kind of blocks I’m as interested in reading as I might have once been. I’ve also read plenty of Batbooks along those lines in my years of fandom, so I might just be plain full up.