One of the issues I was most looking forward to reading in the new DC relaunch is sure to catch you by surprise, but is it too much?
If you're a Catwoman fan then there's no doubt that this series is one you were looking forward to more than many of the new 52 books coming from DC Comics. Artist Guillem March has a lot of experience drawing Catwoman from the stuff we had seen from him in his Gotham City Sirens series, and as expected, his Catwoman here is not much different. While March's Catwoman is not my favorite artistic interpretation of the character (that's a tie between Darwyn Cooke and Adam Hughes) the art is not terrible. March's pencils are fluid and Catwoman looks acrobatic and sexy, complimenting the story and the way the character is written here rather well.
Winick's story starts off with a chase -- Catwoman's home is abruptly taken over by some thugs, and following a brief altercation, she quickly grabs a few of her possessions and leaves the scene -- taking care not to forget a crate full of kittens. The story moves from that scene to her friend's home where the reader is introduced to Lola, one of Catwoman's "actual" friends who not only knows about her secret life as Catwoman, but who actually looks out for her well being. The relationship between the two characters is sweet, and I liked seeing someone look out for Selina's best interests and overall safety.
Catwoman is sexy, self assured and confident here -- and a lot of what we see is within the realm of her character. Half the things she does in this issue she would probably do. The first issue is a solid introduction to Catwoman's character, and is accessible to new readers.
There's a lot of gratuitous imagery in this comic. A good portion of the issue consist of Selina being in her underwear -- in fact, when we see her on the first page she's wearing nothing but her underwear. Is this the first time we've seen a woman in her undergarments in a comic book? No. Does it happen too frequently in this comic? Well...it certainly happens very frequently. In at least 7 panels, Selina's breast or breasts are exposed to some degree; and I don't mean just cleavage. But hey, who's counting!?
Keeping in mind that DC rated this issue "T+," some amount of sexual content as well as a rather high level of violence isn't entirely unexpected, but is it excessive here? Admittedly the scene where Selina attacks a Russian mobster in the bathroom of a bar is definitely violent, but the amount of violence here is within the scope of what I consider acceptable for a T+ rated comic book.
What we do get a lot of in this issue (perhaps an excessive amount of) is sexual content. Batman and Catwoman's sexual relationship is always something that's been implied; it's never really been blatant. In HUSH, for example, the scene that follows Batman's reveal to Selina that he is Bruce Wayne implies that the two had had a sexual encounter. They share a kiss and she wraps her leg around his waist and that's as far as it goes in panel, but more is implied off panel. The only other time I can recall a scene like this one is when Bruce and Talia had an "encounter" in Batman: Demon and Son; and even then it was not nearly as graphic as what we see here. Here we have a very graphic depiction of a lot of what's been left up to the readers' imagination. Is it excessive? A little bit. I admit I was probably not as bothered by the scene in question as most people because I always assumed this was the sort of stuff that went on between these two characters off panel, but I can understand how it made some people uncomfortable. In fact, reading the issue made me blush a little bit in the office, but maybe that's because I'm shy.
Were the tactics that Catwoman used to defeat her adversaries in this issue out of line? I personally don't think so. Catwoman has always been known to use her sexuality and sexual prowess in order to defeat her enemies and to get what she wants -- this isn't something new. Was there a little bit of fan service in this issue? Yeah, there was. That hot and heavy scene shared by Selina and Bruce at the end of the book was like nothing I have ever seen in a comic book, and not something I anticipated when I turned the page. Could I have done without it? Sure; however, it didn't irk me so much to see it in there (that might be because she seduced him) because I can see her doing something like that. Overall, it isn't necessarily a question of whether what she did was out of character for her (because I don't believe it was) but rather whether or not what happened in this comic should be the kind of stuff we read in comics. Selina is known for being a sultry seductress, but her actions were often implied; here they are obvious, almost in your face. Looking beyond what they did, we have to ask ourselves why she did it. When Bruce shows up he asks Selina "What's wrong," and rather than explaining to him what is wrong, she seduces him. Is she using sex to deflect talking about her feelings? Definitely. Overall I enjoyed this issue; it was sexy, clever and fun; and I look forward to the second issue.