New 52 Review: Catwoman #1

So... hear any good Catwoman jokes lately?

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Unless you've been living a cave, you've probably heard about the ending of Catwoman #1. So, rather than mark time until we get there, let's just get it out of the way now.

Batman drops by to see Catwoman and they verbally spar despite their largely unspoken romantic attraction for each other. Nothing we haven't seen dozens of times before.

But then Catwoman pushes Batman to the ground and holds him down until he relents and gives her a hickey. Then they have sex on panel, in costume.

And therein lies the fandom eruption. Some readers like it and the rest are up in arms over the blatantly lurid scene designed to lure in new readers.

My take on it is slightly different.

I don't believe that Batman would ever do that. Not the Bruce Wayne Batman that I've read about for most of my life. The God Damn Batman of Frank Miller? Oh yeah, he's done that with Black Canary. In costume sex and all. But that guy was the also bats*** crazy dude who told Dick Grayson to eat a rat if he got hungry. That's not Batman anywhere other than in Frank Miller's mind.

Batman has one of the greatest rogues galleries in comics and several of his female villains like Poison Ivy, Talia and of course, Catwoman have been very overt in their attraction towards him. Fans have probably had hundreds of erotic fantasies about Batman and his lovely villainesses. The difference between them and Judd Winick is that they're not laying out their fantasies as an actual Batman and Catwoman comic.

Do I believe that Batman and Catwoman would sleep together? Sure, absolutely. But I don't buy them taking that step without knowing their respective identities. And I sure as hell don't believe that they would ever go that far in costume. Prior to the reboot, Bruce and Selina actually knew who each other were and there was at least a basis for a romance. Retconning that away makes their union here even more unlikely. Here, Winick essentially turns them into "underwear perverts." Oh my God, Warren Ellis was right!

Is it degrading to Catwoman? Yes… and to Batman as well. If it had happened completely off panel, there probably wouldn't have been as much uproar about the scene. It's also a surprisingly ugly sequence to look at, thanks to the art.

However, that scene did not affect my rating for this issue. No… this comic achieved that distinction long before the end.

Going back to the beginning, the first things we see are breasts, breasts and breasts. Welcome to the first issue of Breastwoman, everyone! The amazing adventures of a chest that has no head, at if you were to judge it by the first page. Seriously, it's three pages before we even see Catwoman's complete face in a panel and she's still got part of her bra sticking out from under her costume. The artist, Guillem March is well known for his cheesecake-ish style and he can draw a woman's body well. But he's not as good at faces and I'm not a big fan of his style. It reminds me too much of some kind of advertisement for a French fragrance.

The long and the short of it is that Catwoman pissed off some criminals who found out where she lived and blew up her apartment. Needing a new place to stay and money to rebuild her life, Selina drops in on her new best friend, Lola. Anyway, I assume she's a new character. Afterwards, Catwoman goes undercover at a bar frequented by Russian mobsters.

That part is actually kind of fun. Selina poses as the bartender and she uses her knowledge of Russian to pick up on potential objects to steal. She also spots someone from her past and proceeds to beat the crap out of him in the restroom. It's not clear who he is, but it almost seems like Winick is reinstating Selina's past as a prostitute… which was incidentally introduced by Frank Miller and then ignored or retconned away by the other Batman writers. 

On the whole, the issue is actually pretty boring and Selina herself comes off as surprisingly bland. While discussing this issue, a few comic book commentators have brought up the Catwoman run by Jim Balent as a previous low water mark for the character. And that's ridiculous. Balent had his excesses even back then, but his art on Catwoman was never ugly. Plus Chuck Dixon was the writer for most of that run and people seem to forget that he was very, very good at spinning adventures for Catwoman, Batman, Robin and any related character that he got his hands on.

I don't think that Winick and March will come anywhere close to that. Catwoman #1 was the most thoroughly mediocre comic that I've read in a long time. It is so terrible, that I am instituting a new low water mark for the Crave Online Rating system.

And believe me, Catwoman #1 earned it.

Crave Online Rating: 0.1 /10